Bose Freestyle Earbuds review: A sporty in-ear headphone that floats comfortably in your ear

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The Good The Bose Freestyle headphones are secure and comfortable as well as sweat-resistant, and their "open" design is appealing. They also offer pleasantly full bass and include an integrated remote and microphone and a nice carrying case.

The Bad They let sound in, so they're not good for noisier environments; not all the remote's features will work with Android and Windows phones.

The Bottom Line While it may not be the best-sounding headphone for the money, the Bose Freestyle's superior design and comfort level make it a go-to choice for anyone seeking a sporty and stylish in-ear model.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Sound 7
  • Value 7

This is the Freestyle, Bose's new $129.95 (£114.95, AU$179.95) earbud-style headphone, which comes in Indigo and Ice Blue, and complements the existing IE2 , SIE2i , and MIE2i in-ear headphones but does not replace them.

If the headphone looks familiar, that's because it's not so different from its cousins. What you're looking at are some small design improvements and a rebranding of an existing product rather than a truly new product. In some ways this is Bose's attempt to loosen up a bit and appeal to a younger audience with more fun, eye-catching color choices (naturally, some people may not like those color choices, so hopefully Bose will expand those choices in the future). The earphone itself is probably most similar to Bose's SIE2i sports model but has a different, arguably superior cord design. Like that model, the Freestyle is also sweat and water-resistant.

The SIE2i comes with a default shorter cord for those who want to use the headphone with an armband (an armband case is included), as well as extender cable that ends up making everything a little too long. The 45.3-inch (115 cm) cable on the Freestyle is a medium-length cable that feels long enough without being too long.

Floating 'buds

As with all of Bose's earbud-style headphones, this is the in-ear headphone for people who don't like to have eartips jammed into their ears. The buds are designed to sit loosely in your ears, but they're held in place by Bose's StayHear tips, which feature a soft silicon wing-like design and come in three different sizes.

I really like the fit -- the medium-size Stay-Hear tips worked well with my ears and kept the buds locked in. I think most people will find these earphones very comfortable, but because of their open design, they do let a lot of sound in, so they're not good for noisy environments (Bose also makes the QuietComfort 20 , an impressive high-end noise-canceling version of this headphone, but it costs $300).

The integrated remote is higher up on the cord (and better placed) than the remote on the SIE2i. Sarah Tew/CNET

In terms of features, there's an integrated remote with microphone for cell phones calls (it's placed better on the cord than the SIE2's remote). This is an Apple-friendly headphone, so not all the remote's features will work with Android and Windows phones, but you can still make calls with the headset. Call quality was good.