Android Central Verdict
Price: $199Bottom line: The SoundSport Free delivers impressive sound that's full of depth and clarity. There's plenty to like here if you're in the market for truly wireless workout earbuds.
Fantastic sound quality
Decent battery life
Design isn't for everyone
Mushy control buttons
Bulky charging case
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Truly wireless earbuds are still in their infancy, but we're already starting to see exciting products in this category. Bose made its foray in this segment last year with the $249 SoundSport Free. The earbuds sound fantastic, offer a five-hour battery life, and provide a secure fit that makes them a great option during workouts.
Bose has since slashed the price by $50, and the SoundSport Free is now available for $199. Let's see if it's the right time to pick up Bose's first truly wireless earbuds.
Bose SoundSport Free What I like
The SoundSport Free is made out of plastic, and the design makes the earbuds protrude considerably from your ears. The bulky design does make the earbuds seem ungainly when you're wearing them, but they provide a secure fit.
The key to the secure fit is Bose's StayHear+ wingtips, which hook to the outside of your ear canal, ensuring the earbuds don't fall out even under strenuous activity. There are three wingtip sizes to choose from, and you should be able to find one that fits snugly in the ridges of your outer ear. I went for a long-overdue run, and I gave out before the earbuds.
The right earbud is the primary, and can be used on its own for calls. It also houses the buttons for music playback and volume controls, and a long press invokes Google Assistant. The built-in microphone works very well for calls and communicating with the Assistant, even in noisy environments.
While the wingtips provide a snug fit, they don't fully isolate ambient sound — and that's a good thing as you'll still be able to hear traffic sounds if you're using the earbuds when running outdoors. But if you do manage to lose an earbud during a run, there's a feature called Find My Buds in the Bose Connect app that lets you locate them. The app essentially pinpoints the location when they were last in Bluetooth range, and the earbuds emit a tone that makes it easier to find them.
The SoundSport Free manages to deliver an impressive amount of bass considering its size, along with crisp highs and detailed mids. Boston's More Than a Feeling sounded wonderfully rich, with the earbuds translating Tom Scholz's soaring vocals with precision. The earbuds also did a great job balancing the synthesized and live instruments on Daft Punk's Random Access Memories.
When it comes to battery life, I got a smidgen over the quoted five hours, and the charging case provides an additional ten-hour charge. The case itself is rather bulky — just like the earbuds — but it starts automatically charging the buds as soon as you slot them in. It takes just over two hours to fully charge the earbuds, but you'll be able to eke out 45 minutes' worth of juice from a 15-minute charge. There's also an IPX4 certification, making the earbuds resistant to sweat.
Bose SoundSport Free What needs work
The SoundSport Free offers integrated media controls on the right earbud, with a single playback control button located in between the volume rocker. The buttons are housed in a rubber casing, and they lack any tactile feedback whatsoever.
The stiff buttons take away from what is otherwise a great experience, and you're better off not using them altogether.
Furthermore, there's no NFC, so you'll have to use the traditional Bluetooth pairing mode to connect the earbuds to your phone.
Bose SoundSport Free Review
There's plenty to like in the SoundSport Free, particularly if you're looking for a set of wireless workout earbuds. The sound quality is incredible, and the bundled wingtips provide a secure fit that ensures the earbuds don't fall out even during strenuous workout sessions.
Sure, the bulky design isn't for everyone, and the charging case isn't as portable as other options in this category. But overall, Bose has managed to do a great job with the SoundSport Free.
4 out of 5
The snug fit, great sound quality, and IPX4 certification make the SoundSport Free a great option if you're in the market for truly wireless workout earbuds. They're not exactly affordable at $200, but you're getting your money's worth.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.