Meet SoundSport Free, Bose's $250 AirPods killer

Bose's SoundSport Free totally wireless earphones are more expensive, but they may sound and fit better than the AirPods.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
2 min read
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The Triple Black version is available to preorder now for early October delivery. Midnight Blue with Yellow Citron (see image below) will be available later this year. 


Remove the cord from Bose's popular and highly rated SoundSport Wireless earphones and you're left with SoundSport Free, the company's new totally wireless earphones that ship in October for $250. They will initially only be available in the US, then will come to other markets next year. (The US price converts to about £185 or AU$313.)

Yes, that price is $90 more expensive than Apple's AirPods, which have dominated the totally wireless headphone market (and wireless headphone market as a whole). But the SoundSport Free are true sports headphones and -- despite the higher price -- could prove to be a compelling alternative to the AirPods, particularly for fans of Bose's StayHear+ Sport tips and a semi-open design that doesn't require you to jam the tips into your hears to maximize sound quality.

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The snazzy blue-and-yellow model ships later this year.


SoundSport Free aren't equipped with Apple's custom W1 Bluetooth chip, but Bose claims they'll deliver up to five hours of battery life (like the AirPods) and the included charging case provides two additional full charges for up to 10 additional hours of battery life.

The earphones are sweat-resistant, with an IPX4 water-resistance rating, and there's a new "Find My Buds" feature on the Bose Connect App that displays the last time and place they were used to help locate them should they get lost.

While they integrate control buttons into the buds themselves instead of an inline remote, as noted they otherwise look very similar to Bose's SoundSport Wireless earphones sans cable. I expect they'll sound very similar and may even fit more comfortably and securely since they don't have a cord to weigh them down.

The only likely design gripe is the same one levied at the SoundSport Wireless: The buds stick too far out.


The charging case charges the earphones two extra times for a total of 15 hours of battery life on the go.


The Triple Black version is available for preorder now with Bose setting a delivery date of early October on that model. However, if you want the Midnight Blue with Yellow Citron version, you'll have to wait. Bose has only said that it will arrive "later this year."

Bose also announced the QC35 II, an updated version of its full-size noise-cancelling wireless headphones that now incorporates Google Assistant.    

I hope to try out both new Bose headphones soon and will report back on their sound and wireless connectivity as soon as I do, followed by a full review.