Bose Ultra Open Earbuds — 3 reasons to buy and 3 reasons to skip

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds
(Image credit: Future)

As part of my full Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review, I tried to figured out who these $299 earbuds are best suited for. On one hand, this earbud style is great for keeping your ears free to stay aware of your surroundings. On the other hand, they're a bit niche, and probably not the only pair of earbuds the average person wants to own.

The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds are Bose’s attempt to rethink how often you wear your earbuds. Unlike many of the best wireless earbuds, they're marketed as buds you can keep on all day long thanks to a barely-there, almost earring-like fit that leaves your ears unobstructed. That way, you can listen to music while going about your normal routine.

In general, open-ear buds tend to suffer in the sound quality department, especially when it comes to bass. But Bose surprisingly managed to outfit these with some of the spatial audio features from its mainstream noise-canceling headphones, such as the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds and Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones.

I found that these earbuds deliver a satisfying listening experience despite not giving you a true seal. I mean, that’s definitely what you deserve if you’re going to spend $299 on them. So, are they worth it for you?

Reasons to buy the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

Comfortable fit

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

(Image credit: Future)

The first reason I think you should buy the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds is that they might be the most comfortable earbuds I’ve ever worn — I'm serious. They have this super flexible and soft silicon exterior that wraps around your upper ear lobe. You can adjust the positioning a bit to find the best fit for your ears.

Besides the fact that I think they look stylish alongside my earrings, they fit so well that I wore them for hours at a time with no problem. I even fell asleep with them on, I was staying in a hotel room with a friend and wanted to watch some shows and do work on my laptop while being respectful. 

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: $299 @ Amazon

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: <a href="https://target.georiot.com/Proxy.ashx?tsid=45724&GR_URL=https%3A%2F%2Famazon.com%2Fdp%2FB0CPFVB5VN%2Fref%3Dtwister_B0CV64LPNF%3F_encoding%3DUTF8%26th%3D1%26tag%3Dhawk-future-20%26ascsubtag%3Dhawk-custom-tracking-20" data-link-merchant="Amazon US"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">$299 @ Amazon
The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds feature an open ear design that lets you hear the world around you while still enjoying great sound quality, complete with spatial audio support. The design is flexible and comfortable and you get up to 27 hours of battery life with the included charging case. 

Premium sound features

Another reason you should buy the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds is that the sound quality actually is great as far as open-ear earbuds are concerned. Bose’s OpenAudio tech gives you distinct bass, while the auto-volume feature intelligently adjusts to the ambient sound levels of your environment. 

But what’s really special is the spatial sound, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before for this category of earbuds. There are still and motion modes: ‘still’ was solid for when I was at a desk doing some work but ‘motion’ was awesome when I was commuting around the city or moving around in the gym, keeping my ears in the sweet spot of the soundstage.

Great battery life

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

(Image credit: Future)

A final reason you should buy the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds is for the battery life. These are earbuds that you’re supposed to be able to wear all day, even when you’re running errands cooking dinner, like, as 24/7 as a pair of earbuds can be. 

The battery life is seven and half hours with continuous listening, but the battery won’t drain when there’s no playback and you get up to 27 hours with the charging case. In attempting this all-day experience for my review, I was able to get past almost three full days before needing to charge, though that will vary depending on how many hours you're listening on average. 

Reasons to skip the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

They're lifestyle dependent 

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

(Image credit: Future)

I think you can skip the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds if you don’t actually see yourself being in situations where open earbuds make sense all day. Personally, I wanted to switch out to noise-cancelling earbuds while at the office, and if I were traveling in any form I would definitely need a pair of beefier noise-cancelling headphones that essentially block out the world. 

Another weak point is call quality, especially when I was outside on busy streets, so I actually ended up having to switch to my phone as an audio source for important calls. Consider what your average day looks like before buying.

Expensive (and maybe overpriced)

I also think the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds aren’t necessarily the right choice for someone looking to spend $300 on earbuds. I could make the argument that these are overpriced, considering the Shokz OpenFit are just $180 and still keep your ears open. 

Even if you’re looking at these as a lifestyle product, the Meta Ray-Ban Smart Glasses also start at $300 and those do a lot more than just play music. Of course noise cancelling earbuds with passthrough or aware modes like the AirPods Pro 2 or Bose’s QC Ultra Earbuds, too are hard to turn down if given the same budget.

Small size = easy to lose

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

(Image credit: Future)

Finally, if you’re someone who tends to lose earrings or fusses or touches the area around your ears a lot, you probably want to avoid the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds.

They do feel secure enough, but for example when I said I slept in them, they weren’t still on my ears in the morning. Luckily I looked for them right away but I can already see them ending up lost in sheets heading to the laundry with how small these truly are. I also wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up knocking one off when fixing my hair and not realizing before it’s too late.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Outlook

Should you buy or skip?

If it were me spending my $300, I would buy Bose Ultra Open Earbuds, but keep in mind that I sorta specialize in wearable tech, and I’ve done a full video on why I’m a proponent of open-ear headphones from a personal safety standpoint. But to have a pair of open-ear earbuds that have the more premium spatialized audio features is a game-changer and I can see people who are moving around a lot during the day being able to embrace them.

That said, the price is tough to swallow, especially since these probably aren’t the only pair of wireless earbuds you’re going to want to own if you ever need to tune ambient noise out. These are also a no-go if call quality no matter what environment you’re in, is a big priority. I think if Bose was able to make these less expensive than the more traditional QC Ultra Earbuds, we’d be having a different conversation. 

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.