Suunto Wing Review
My partner and I have had a couple of weeks to review the Suunto Wing headphones and compare them to the SHOKZ equivalents we often use.
TL;DR – Compared to SHOKZ, Suunto Wing is safer, looks cooler, is comfier, sounds better, is more innovative and is a bit more expensive.
I guess you can sense where this review is heading, if you want to read more about the Suunto Wing, a summary follows and here are the manufacturer’s details on Amazon.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Look Good. Sound Good. Are Good. Better than Shokz but a tad more expensive
Price - 80%80%
Apparent Accuracy - 90%90%
Build Quality & Design - 95%95%
Features, Including App - 95%95%
Openness & Compatability - 90%90%
Bone-conducting headphones leave the ear completely unblocked, the sounds travel to your ear drums via the bone rather than through the air. Because the ears are completely open you have significantly more awareness of normal environmental sounds. Audio quality using this method is always going to be limited.
SHOKZ, formerly AfterSHOKZ, is the incumbent and founder of this type of product which claims several patents in this area. Whilst new competitors have come and gone, SHOKZ is still there despite not innovating and improving its product as much as it might.
Safety: Bone-conducting earphones are inherently safer regardless of which company makes them. You can hear sounds around you be that cars or other people talking. You can wear these headphones alongside a bike helmet though perhaps that’s not advisable but many runners do wear headphones and these are a perfect alternative. Suunto takes safety for runners one step further and adds a flashing red LED which scores highly on the ‘can’t hurt’ scale. OK, you can’t see the LEDs under a beanie or long hair but there will be occasions when they attract someone’s attention at just the right time on a run on a dark winter’s night.
Smart: Suunto has added head control meaning that various shakes and nods of your head can advance to the next song or answer/reject a call. It works well and, again, is one of those ‘can’t hurt’ features.
Sound Quality – I’m somewhat of an audiophile but I set the bar very low when it comes to running earbuds. That said, over the years we’ve seen great advances in audio quality from Jabra and many others; some even support HD codecs. Suunto hasn’t gone as far as supporting high-definition codecs like aptX HD as that would probably be pointless given the audio quality limitations of bone-conducting tech. However, Suunto Wing does use aptX and it sounds pretty good and perfectly good enough for running. One of the issues with other running earbuds is wind noise as the wind whistles around the earbuds in the ear canal, I’ve only run in lightish winds but there is no wind noise caused by the headphones. When cycling at higher speeds then there is wind noise but that’s because there’s wind noise, not that the Suunto Wind causes additional noise, if that makes sense! The bottom line is that bone-conducting headphones DO sound duller than high-fidelity earbuds, I’ll caveat that by also adding that sound quality seems to improve with a tighter fit to the head.
Call Sound Quality – Yep, pretty similar to music. Good clarity for both the caller and receiver. No hiss as there is cVc noise reduction which should be good to 30km/h
Stability – The tradeoff you face compared to earbuds is that earbuds might fall out of your ears whereas headphones might bounce if – for example, you run off-road. Weight affects the potential to bounce and Suunto Wind weighs 32g which is slightly more than some of the SHOKZ models but that weight is almost all in the pod section to the front of the ear. Simple physics says that it must move a bit, and it does…but not much, and movement doesn’t especially affect sound quality.
Suitability – You can make calls more safely when cycling. Suunto Wing is sweat and showerproof (IP67) and can handle all practical temperatures you’ll encounter in sports.
Voice Coaching – You can get voice feedback from your Suunto RACE watch when following workouts (not tested).
Battery life is 10 hours with an additional 20 hours from the rechargeable power bank which also boasts rapid charging. That’s better than some SHOKZ models and on par with others.
- Audio and visual safety features
- Great sound quality for this genre of tech – even has aptX
- Super-easy setup and easy-to-use
- Lights could be brighter and are obscured by long hair
Table of Contents (Click to Expand)
How Do I Charge Suunto Wing?
Suunto Wing is not QI charged. It comes with a power bank that itself can be charged from your mains supply. An electrical contact is made between the Wing and the charger when the two are placed together
A 10-minute charge is claimed to give a 3-hour playback time.
Alternative Bone Conducting Headphones
I’ve only previously used Shokz (USA, UK) branded headphones but there are many alternatives ranging from $50 to $200 from these companies: Philips, Tayogo, YouthWhisper, Naenka, Haylou, Sanoto, UCGOU, Echaar and Creative. Follow the links if you want to learn more about them, perhaps only Creative & Philips will be trustworthy alternatives.
We both found Suunto Wing more comfortable to wear. I guess head shapes differ.
Suunto Wing – How do the controls work?
The smart controls are simple: Two nods answer a call whereas two shakes of the head reject a call. Whilst playing music, two shakes skip a song. That’s it. It works. No doubt there is scope to add more gesture controls there but that does the basics.
The two black buttons on the underside of the right speaker are volume controls and the red button on the left stops and starts music. Press and hold the front of those black buttons to turn the headphones on/off. The buttons on the right side aren’t buttons but rather HD microphones.
What light modes does Suunto Wing have?
There are 3 red LEDs on each side of Suunto Wing. They’re bright enough to get someone’s attention…just.
When in use they lower the battery life, I don’t know how much by. Then there are three light modes – constant, flash and SOS-flash. I can’t tell the difference between the SOS mode and the flash mode. When is a flash an SOS flash? IDK.
Suunto Wing vs Suunto Sonic
Suunto Sonic is 10g lighter and Eur50 cheaper. For the lower price, you get inferior IP55 waterproofing and none of the smart features ie lights or gesture control. There is a Lime colour option and Sonic isn’t as cooly branded as the red Suunto Wing.
Suunto Sonic is available from November 2023.
Suunto Wind is priced sensibly compared to the upper end of SHOKZ range but set aside that is the greater brand awareness and trust with the SHOKZ brand. That said, Suunto will be trusted by its existing customer base, albeit little-known beyond that.
Other than capitalising on the brand name, what Suunto’s new owners might be trying to do here is to get a foothold in other sport-related tech markets to boost the awareness and sales of core Suunto products. I guess they also want to make money from these headphones and I assume that Suunto’s owner already has similar products in its portfolio of companies.
Apart from a chest strap what other running tech products could Suunto realistically make some money from? I’m struggling to think of meaningful alternatives – a foot pod would be one but Stryd is a patented product as a power pod so they can’t do that.
Anyway, it’s a well-functioning and good-sounding product that will see our SHOKZ headphones returned to the cupboard. It remains to be seen if the pricing is right for wider acceptance in the market, it might be too high but this is the kind of product that can be readily discounted in sales.
Price and Availability
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