I *Hated* Wireless Headphones Until I Tried the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

A review on the design, specs and sound quality

PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here.

bose ultra open earbuds review uni
Getty Images/Bose

I wouldn’t say I’m a music snob, but I don’t mess around when it comes to my listening experience. In fact, I almost always have three types of headphones in my bag at all times. Over the years, I’ve found that over-ear headphones are great for getting in the zone during work, while wireless earbuds cut down on bulk when I’m going out sans bag. They’re also a better choice during hotter months as over-ear headphones can get super sweaty running around NYC. 

In the past, I have openly shared my disdain for some very popular white wireless earbuds with friends, and I’ve opted for wired headphones instead (which, funnily enough, is becoming trendy among Gen Zers). I was tired of having my earbuds constantly falling out and providing mediocre sound quality. When I tried the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds ($299) for the first time, I was ready to cut down on my headphone lineup. Here is my full honest review, from how to wear them to if they’re really worth the splurge. 

bose ultra open earbuds review a photo of unboxing the earbuds
Chelsea Candelario/PureWow

The Unboxing

Once you remove the sleeve, the first thing you’ll notice is a close-up image of how you should wear the earbuds. This image was pretty helpful as I kept forgetting how to wear them. The flap also showed all the features of the button located on the top of each earbud, from how to change the volume to how to answer a phone call. 

I was surprised to see the earbuds were already charged and ready to be used. It also has a voice assistant, so it notified me every time my earbuds successfully paired with my devices. It syncs well with my computer, however, I had to go through an extra step to have it sync with my phone. And it won’t connect to Bluetooth unless you add the Bose Music app. 

bose ultra opean earbuds review screenshots of bose music app
Chelsea Candelario/PureWow

The Bose Music App

I’m not fond of having another music app on my phone (as I already have one for my over-ear headphones), but I started viewing the Bose app as more of a digital guidebook. It taught me how to wear the earbuds, how to use the buttons located on the barrels and how to make the most of my listening experience. Another random, but cute touch was that the app gave me the option to name my earbuds. While it may feel a little silly, it just makes it a more personalized pair. (I named them “sonic earrings” BTW.)

The app provides six different features such as:

  • Battery percentage: I can see how much battery each earbud has and it notifies me when I need to charge them. 
  • Modes: They come in stereo and immersive mode, which I will explain more later on. 
  • Bluetooth source: A list of places my earbuds are currently connected to like my iPhone and Mac. 
  • Equalizer: Play DJ and change the bass and treble of any song. I was shocked that it’s a free service on the app as my current over-ear headphones make you pay to customize your music. 
  • Immersive Audio: This feature really enhances your music experience. The best way I can describe it is it sounds as though the artist was suddenly singing in front of you and around you. It’s definitely a trippy option and comes in still/motion. 
  • Shortcut: Whether you want to cycle through different modes, immersive audio or devices, you’re able to create shortcuts for the buttons.
  • Product Tips: A helpful guide to make the most of your earbuds and learn more about the features above. 

My Review of Bose Ultra Open Earbuds


  • lays comfortably on ears
  • easy to control buttons
  • ability to enhance sound quality
  • long battery life


  • needs app to sync with phone
  • pretty pricey
  • not noise-cancelling
  • immersive audio can decrease battery life


  • Value: 17/20
  • Functionality: 19/20
  • Ease of Use: 20/20
  • Aesthetics: 19/20
  • Sound Quality: 20/20
  • Total: 95/100

The Bose earbuds immediately surpassed my current pair based on the design alone. It’s designed to clip onto your ears for a more secure fit and is crafted in flexible rubber to stay comfortable for a long period of time. Whether I'm walking, running or dancing around my room, these earbuds do not move. I even unleashed my inner Tina Turner and flipped my head hard and they didn’t pop off my ears once. It has a very comfortable fit, though I would be mindful if you wear earrings. They were fine with my regular studs, but I had a difficult time laying them over large hoops.

The buttons also are a great addition to the earbuds. You actually have to press down on them to change the volume or stick to a specific mode. It may seem old school for some, but I love knowing I can control my sound. With my old earbuds, one small movement would pause my music or disconnect them. The manual press truly cuts down on any mistakes. While it will take some time to remember the shortcuts (like double pressing to skip a song or pressing down only the left earbud to increase the volume), I like having the option.

Aesthetics wise, it comes in a slick black or white smoke color with a unique shape that definitely sets them apart from their competitors. They’ve even been coined as fashionable tech with some TikTokers comparing them to mimicking classic huggies or ear cuffs. I opted for the black earbuds and they’ve quickly become a trendy addition to my wardrobe.


Now, let’s talk about the sound quality. The open design was made to sit near the ear canal but not directly inside like regular wireless buds. The micro speakers provide direct sound, but still provide awareness of the outside world. I was able to hear my music clearly even if the volume was only turned up halfway (so imagine if I had it on full blast). However, they aren’t noise-canceling, so I did hear a bit of background noise. The app does have a feature to adjust the volume based on your surroundings so that can help a bit drown out some of the noise. It’s not the best for phone calls and Facetime, but at least no one can hear me jamming out to Hamilton for the millionth time. 

The modes and immersive audio feature can also play a role in elevating your listening experience. The ‘stereo mode’ reminds me of regular headphones that provide direct sound to your ears, while the ‘immersion mode’ expands the sound so the audio moves with you (which is great for active activities). You can definitely hear a difference, but I personally don’t toggle too much between the two as it won’t drastically change my music. Note: The app lets you create ten custom modes based on your environment such as commute, focus, home, music, outdoor, relax, run, walk, work and workout. 

Now, the immersive audio feature (aka spatial audio) is a completely different ballgame. I’ve never experienced music this way and was in awe of earbuds’ capabilities. It has two options: ‘still,’ which is recommended for use while you’re sitting and ‘motion,’ which works best when you’re moving around. As mentioned, both options feel like music is surrounding you; it’s almost like you’re in your own concert bubble. I listened to “Snow Angel” by Reneé Rapp in immersive audio and let me tell you it sounds ten times better than it did before. The only downside is that it can drain your battery, so use this feature wisely and maybe just save it for your favorite songs.

Are the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Worth It?


If you’re a music lover, you’ll enjoy being able to really enhance the sound quality of your favorite artists to your liking. If you also have a hard time keeping regular earbuds in your ears (like me), the hook design offers a more comfortable fit that won’t slip off with sudden movement. It has definitely changed my outlook on wireless earbuds due to its clip-on design and the sleek design makes it a standout tech accessory. 

The biggest downside? The $300 price tag. The Bose earbuds cost at least two times more than my original earbuds. They are actually closer in price to my over-ear pair, which may turn some people off from buying them. The earbuds also require an app to get all the snazzy features, which some people might not need nor care about. It has great sound quality, but it’s not noise-canceling, so external noises will come through—especially if you live in a noisy city.  

The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds made me reconsider having wireless headphones (and maybe cutting down on how many pairs I carry around in my bag). While I don’t see myself relying on them in a noisy NYC office, I appreciate how comfortable they are in my ears. I never have to worry about losing them or getting disconnected on their own. The real cincher is being able to listen to my favorite music in immersive audio mode, which has me sold on splurging on these headphones. 

Fast Facts

  • Colors: black, white smoke
  • Wireless range: 30 feet
  • Battery life: 7.5 hours (19.5 hours with case)
  • Battery charge time: 1 hour

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Wear Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

Slowly open up the barrel and wrap the silicone band over your ear for a comfy fit. One thing to remember is that the button should be facing upwards, while the battery side (which has three small circles to fit nicely in the charging case) faces downward. According to Bose, it should sit around 45 degrees, but you can easily slide the earbuds up and down your ears to find the best angle for you. 

How Long Do Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Last?

The earbuds can last up to 7.5 hours (but only 4.5 hours if immersive audio is turned on). The charging case can provide an additional 19.5 additional hours (or 12 hours if using immersive audio). It takes about an hour to fully charge.

How Do Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Work?

The Bose earbuds can be used regularly to listen to music, podcasts or make phone calls. If you’re looking to get the most of your listening experience, the app allows you to change the sound quality. They’re also great for workouts, as the clip-on design allows you to do an intensive class or run a couple of miles while keeping your headphones secured around your ear the whole time. The earbuds are water-resistant, so they can withstand sweat and rainy days. 

Can You Wear Glasses with Bose Ultra Open Earbuds?

Yes! Since the barrel hooks on the lower part of the ear, it doesn’t get in the way of wearing glasses. In fact, you can wear your glasses, a hat and even a mask without feeling too bulky. The earbuds are pretty lightweight so you might forget you even have them on. 

about face matte fluid eye paint review chelsea candelario

Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...

Why You Should Trust Us

PureWow's editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series (where we rank items on a 100-point scale) to our painstakingly curated lists of fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family picks, you can trust that our recommendations have been thoroughly vetted for function, aesthetics and innovation. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.