If the rumors are true, and the smartphones of the future are going headphone-jack-free, then you'll want to invest in a good pair of wireless buds. The Bose Soundsport ($149) are on the bulky side, but provide a strong, steady Bluetooth connection to your phone whether you're walking or running. And they offer Bose's trademark high-quality audio, making them a great set of earbuds whether you're working out or relaxing at home.
Sturdy and comfy (but bulky)
The Bose Soundsport earbuds are some of the bulkiest Bluetooth headphones I've worn. At 0.8 ounces, they're much heavier than the 0.5-ounce Under Armour JBL Wireless Headphones.
Each bud protrudes pretty far, which made me more than a bit concerned they'd go flying out of my ears when I started moving. Much to my relief, they stayed put, even during runs. A small silicone winglet, which hugs the inner contour of your ear, kept the buds in place no matter what. Bose also includes two alternate-size wings for different ear sizes.
I found Bose's earbuds to be more comfortable to wear than the JBL set, which felt much tighter in my ear, no matter which of the inserts I used.
Connecting each bud is a wire, which has in-line controls that can be used to raise and lower the volume, and play, pause or advance tracks. If the Soundsport is connected to an iPhone, pressing and holding the middle button on the controls will activate Siri.
Another small but reassuring feature was a small clip on the wire, which I hooked onto my collar to make sure that even if the buds popped out, they wouldn't go too far. I also found that the clip helped to keep the wire from catching on my neck when I turned my head to the right or left.
I tested the Bose Soundsport in two different scenarios. The first simulated how I would use it on a daily basis: connected to my iPhone 6s, with the phone in my pocket, walking around. Next, I connected the Soundsport to a Samsung Gear Fit 2 (worn on my left wrist), and went for a run.
With my iPhone, the Soundsport maintained a steady connection no matter what. I never experienced any drops or hiccups in music, even when I turned my head to either side. By comparison, the Under Armour JBL Wireless Headphones would start skipping when I turned my head to the right, and the Motorola Verve Ones+ constantly cut out, no matter what I was doing.
On a run, the Soundsport would skip on occasion, but no more than once every few minutes, and the sound came back within a second.
While the Soundsport is sweat-resistant, some users reported that the headphones stopped working under "heavy sweat" conditions. I took the Soundsport out for a fairly sweaty run, but didn't experience the same issue. However, Bose has diagnosed the problem, and will replace any earphones that have been damaged as a result of excess perspiration.
Audio quality, as you might imagine from a Bose product, was excellent. The thumping bass line in Eminem's "Lose Yourself" helped me keep my pace up, without overwhelming me with low-end noise. Like other Bose headphones, the audio profile is balanced, so you won't hear the overblown bass that's common on many other headphones.
A smartphone app for Android and iOS lets you keep the Soundsports' firmware up-to-date, but isn't very useful otherwise. I wish it had a method to switch audio profiles, for instance.
The Soundsports' built-in battery should provide up to 6 hours of playtime; that's 2 hours longer than the Jaybird Freedom, but 2 hours less than the Under Armour JBL headphones.
Despite their bulk, the Bose Soundsports are comfortable to wear, and deliver clean and mostly uninterrupted audio, whether you're on the move or sitting at your desk. And, at $149, they're no more expensive than many of their premium competitors, such as the $149 Jabra Sport Coach or the $199 Jaybird Freedom, making this Bose product competitive in more ways than one.