Whether or not you think Apple AirPods look silly, you can’t question their popularity. Demand has outpaced supply for much of their nine-month existence, fueling both Apple’s bottom line and the market for “true wireless” earphones — models where there’s no wire connecting the two earbuds.
Competition in that market is heating up, though, and the latest entrant is Bose. The Bose SoundSport Free is a true-wireless version of its predecessor, the SoundSport Wireless. One of the better features on the Bose models are rubberized cups to hold the buds securely in your ears and minimize external noise — something AirPods lack.
As their name suggests, the SoundSports are specialized for exercise. Bose claims they are sweat- and water-resistant, and that they deliver up to five hours of battery life. Similar to AirPods, they have a Find My Buds feature to help you locate a lost earpiece.
Your pair also comes with a charging case for fueling on the go. Bose claims a fully charged case will provide two full extra charges, or up to ten extra hours of battery life.
And unlike AirPods, the SoundSport Free has buttons on the headphones themselves to control your phone, meaning you can make calls while wearing them without fishing around for your phone.
For “true” wireless designs like AirPods, the connection between the two earbuds is often an issue. Bose claims that its antenna system creates a rock-solid connection between the two headphones as well as your device, though it’s difficult to judge without having tried them out.
You can pre-order the SoundSport Free now, but it won’t ship until early October. Initially it’ll only be available in black, but if you want the snazzier-sounding Midnight Blue with Yellow Citron, you’ll have to wait longer (no word on when).
That said, don’t be fooled by this product’s name: The SoundSport Free is expensive. The price is $249.99 — a full $90 more than AirPods.
SoundSport has some tempting features that set it apart from competitors. The rubberized buds make them more suitable for running and workouts than AirPods, and Bose headphones are typically known for good sound.
In any case, we can’t argue with AirPods getting a little more competition. It’s a true-wireless future, after all.