Who has two thumbs and can’t wear in-ear headphones? This gal! I have never been able to wear in-ear headphones because they simply won’t stay in my ears. My ears are not designed for AirPods, earbuds, earplugs, or anything else that’s meant to be smushed into them, and that’s because I lack the cartilage to keep them in place.
I’ve tried countless headphones. While almost all of them never stayed in my ears for more than 30 seconds, the few that managed were often uncomfortable. And when it comes to traditional headphones, I find them eventually headache-inducing or too bulky.
When I finally found some off-brand over-the-ear corded headphones that worked, I kept buying them until they were discontinued, which made me hesitant to actually use my final pair for fear of shorting them out like their predecessors.
It wasn’t until I discovered the Suunto Wing Headphones — headphones that didn’t care that I was challenged in the ear department. These not only ended my pitiful situation but also completely revolutionized my experience with headphones.
In short: Bone conduction headphones are not just for those who can’t wear in-ear headphones. The open-ear design provides a much safer alternative that allows you to listen to your music, podcasts, and audiobooks while remaining aware of your surroundings. You don’t have to choose between entertainment and situational awareness. But that’s not the only reason. Suunto has packed plenty of other brilliant features into these headphones that have raised the bar for headphones in general.
To size up the Suunto Wing against the rest of the bone conduction headphones on the market, check out GearJunkie’s Bone Conduction Headphone guide.
- Battery 10 hours; 30 hours with charging bank
- Weight 1.16 oz.
- Water-resistance IP67
- Microphone Dual microphones and clear voice call noise reduction
- Connectivity type Bluetooth
- Phenomenal comfort
- High quality
- Exceptionally long battery life
- Easy-to-use app
- Red LED flashing lights for visibility in low light
- Portable charging dock
- It doesn’t fit everyone the same
- Not great in loud settings
Suunto Wing Headphones: Review
I admit that, as someone who had never used or even heard of bone conduction headphones before, I was intimidated by the Suunto Wing headphones and their sleek, black, rectangular portable power bank. It all reminded me of a gadget from a “Black Mirror” episode. And at $199, I didn’t think these were special enough to warrant such a hefty price tag, especially since my old ones functioned just fine. Well, sort of.
I was mistaken. I knew these headphones were special the instant I put them on, connected them via Bluetooth, and started listening to my audiobook. But it wasn’t until I tested them for two magnificent weeks in the Pacific Northwest — rain, shine, and snow — that I was entirely sold, price tag and all.
What Do the Suunto Wing Headphones Have to Offer?
The short answer: Lots.
Suunto’s open-ear design is better at offering safety because it doesn’t drown out the environment. As a petite person of color who jogs solo, I can attest that these really did allow me to be engrossed in my audiobooks and music while still being fully aware of other joggers and cyclists approaching from behind. The only better option would be nothing at all. But to me, that gets old real fast.
The tech itself works on vibration. Transducers in the temple pads transmit the beat into the ear via the bones behind them, bypassing the ear canal. This allows for easy listening while staying aware of your surroundings.
And the tech is no joke; the sound is crystal clear, not drowned out while working out, as will happen with some other workout headphones. And despite the bone-conduction tech, your head doesn’t vibrate with sound waves or anything.
Other features, like a respectable 10-hour battery life, on-ear comfort, performance tracking via the app, and red LED lights, support overall quality and active-user design.
These headphones contain two rows of red LED lights on both sides for visibility, but keep in mind that they work best in very low light environments. While I only left them on one setting, there are several light modes to select from, including static lights or blinking at different intervals.
All can be controlled using the app or by tapping and holding the minus button on the headphones. And if you don’t want them on, you can turn them off.
I felt like this was such a clever and welcome design for added safety, and as far as I know, the Philips Go A7607 model is the only other one, to date, that features red LED lights.
When it comes to the sound quality, other reviewers claimed it wasn’t so great, but I beg to differ. Perhaps I’m no audiophile expert, but the sound quality on these headphones, I thought, was better than many of my other headphones.
My only issue was that if there was a lot of ambient background noise, it was challenging to hear my audiobook. These do come with earplugs so that you can block out noise and still listen to these headphones, but for me, earplugs won’t work.
The other thing people complained about, in general, was the vibration. During my weeks of testing, the only time I ever noticed any vibration was when I maxed out the volume, but at that point, I was more concerned with my eardrums.
The dual microphone and clear voice call noise reduction technology worked incredibly well for talking on the phone the times I tried it, although I did not use this feature extensively. On both ends, each person could hear the other clearly and without a lot of background interference.
I’m assuming Suunto is proud of the battery life because only the Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones can match them — kind of. While they both offer 10 hours of battery life and a quick charge of roughly 1 hour to completely recharge, Suunto provides an additional battery bank that gives another whopping 20 hours of playing time.
And while 10 hours is impressive in theory, I clocked in the time and found that indeed, it went to about 9.5 hours before I heard the low battery alarm warning every 5 minutes. I imagine it could have gone longer if we didn’t have an arctic blast that swept through the Pacific Northwest. If you know you’re going to be out for a while, you can also go to the app to check the battery status.
Fit & Feel
I assumed that any headphones that sat on my jawbone would irritate or cause friction — maybe not right away, but eventually. Nope, not with these. Over 22 hours of wearing these headphones, not once did I feel any discomfort. In fact, when I put these on, I found them so lightweight and secure that I often forgot I was wearing them.
I did notice some shifting while running or jumping, but not enough that made them come off or disrupt them to the point that I could no longer hear my audiobook, which I was impressed by.
Another thing I noticed when I let my partner try these was that the headphones had more points of contact with his ears than mine. And, while these are not adjustable and may fit differently from person to person, he reported they were nonetheless versatile and quite comfy.
Suunto Wing App
The Suunto Wing headphones come with an app, but you don’t have to download it if you don’t want to; they’ll work without it. I was hesitant to download the app, so I used the headphones without it for the first week.
However, I realized I should have. The app is simple to download and register, and once you have it, you have complete command over the headphones, including the red LED light patterns, battery tracking, and performance metrics such as distance, duration, and pace. It also lets you share your location with others.
Room for Improvements
I have almost no complaints about the Suunto Wing headphones, save for the times I had to turn the volume up to the point where I felt the pesky vibration in loud environments. But in my case, that didn’t happen often since I used them primarily on outdoor walks and runs or while doing chores.
Another thing to note, which is not a complaint but rather an observation, is that the red LED lights only appear to capture people’s attention in very low light conditions. If I were someone who ran at dusk or dawn, I would consider the lights incredibly useful. But since I don’t, I found the lights to have no real use, not even on cloudy, gloomy days.
Suunto Wing Conclusion: Who Should Buy It
Other headphones on the market range in price from $40 to $160, so with the Suunto Wing costing $199, these are some of the pricier bone conduction headphones on the market. But with all the clever features, I understand why these are considered higher-end headphones.
Thankfully, there is also a newly released version of the Wing that specs out with no power bank, no lights, is IP55 water-resistant (compared to IP67), and $50 cheaper called the Suunto Sonic. Folks aiming for endurance activities should stick with the Wing, but for gym use the Sonic should provide much of the same for less.
No matter what kind of style you’re used to, if you can swing the cost of the Wing, you’re getting a sturdy design, lengthy battery life, a power bank, nearly vibration-free sound, and exceptional comfort. And those who are like me and must wear over-the-ear headphones will rejoice to have another alternative without sacrificing quality. I know I am.