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Naenka Runner Pro Review

Verdict

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The Naenka Runner Pro are cheaper alternatives to the Aftershokz Trainerz that offer solid sound, good battery life and a built-in music player so you leave your phone behind.

Pros

  • Light, comfortable design
  • Good sound quality
  • Works for swimming

Cons

  • Flimsy charging cable
  • Audio drowned by busy roads
  • Bigger battery drain when using music player

Availability

  • UKRRP: £119.39
  • USARRP: $165.90
  • EuropeRRP: €132.82

Key Features

  • Bone ConductionSends audio towards the ears via vibrations through the cheekbone
  • Built-in 8GB MemoryCan store up to 1500 songs on its internal memory

Introduction

The Naenka Runner Pro are bone conduction headphones designed for exercise that deliver audio to your ears while still keeping you aware of your surroundings.

Along with streaming from your phone over Bluetooth, they also pack in a music player with 8GB of storage to drag and drop your audio. They’re also slapped with a waterproof rating that makes them safe for swimming if you’re after some musical motivation in the pool.

Aftershokz is the name synonymous with sporty bone conducting headphones right now, but the less known Naenka could have come up with a pair to give them a run for their money.

The Naenka Runner Pro is available to buy for a discounted price of £93.60 from Naenka’s website and $118.99 from Amazon US.

Design

  • IPX8 waterproof design
  • Weighs 33g

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and with the Naenka Runner Pro, you’re basically getting something that looks a lot like the Aftershokz Aeropex and OpenMove bone conduction headphones. I’ve compared them side-by-side with the Aeropex and while they’re not identical, it’s clear where Naenka has got its design inspiration from.

The pleasingly light titanium alloy frame sits on top of the ears with the speaker elements sitting in close proximity. Meanwhile the skinnier end of the frame sits raised above the neck and has a nice flex to it. It’s light at 33g and it didn’t budge during runs and home workouts. When donning it for swimming, it does struggle to sit snug under a swim cap, though it didn’t move around or feel like a nuisance to wear in the water.

Naenka Runner Pro on a person's head

The reason you can wear it in the water is because it’s been slapped with a IPX8 waterproof rating. That means it’s safe to be submerged in water. Naenka uses an exposed magnetic charging port that helps keep the headphones’ look streamlined and waterproof. However, the proprietary charging/transfer cable that clips into it is pretty flimsy and easy to knock out of place. So it pays to double check it’s definitely securely clipped in before you turn over for bed.

Next to that charging port is a single LED light that flashes blue to indicate when it’s in Bluetooth mode, and remains blank when you’re in music player mode. Below that are a set of physical controls. It’s here where you can turn the headphones on, play and pause music, answer/hang up a call and long press to launch your phone’s smart assistant.

There’s also dedicated volume controls that can be long pressed to skip tracks and while all of these buttons are quite closely grouped together, they are easy to locate on the move once you get to know where they sit.

Features

  • Bluetooth 5.0 with a 10 metre range
  • 8GB storage

Naenka delivers sound using bone conduction technology, which works by delivering vibrations through your cheekbones up towards the ears but not into the ears.

That means you’re getting an open ear design, which still means you’re letting some sound around you in. Early bone conduction headphones struggled to deliver strong sound quality and offered an uncomfortable tickle when channelling that vibration up to the ears. Thankfully, that’s not the case here.

Naenka Runner Pro sensor for detection

Naenka gives you the option of two listening experiences. The first is a pretty standard Bluetooth streaming one, letting you pair it to smartphones. I tried it with an iPhone and a Realme Android phone and had no problems pairing or suffered any sort of connection drop outs with either phone.

When you don’t have your phone or other music streaming device nearby, you also have the option to transfer music to the headphones. There’s 8GB of storage offering room for roughly 1,500 songs, and it’s compatible with WAV, FLAC, MP3, APE and WMA file formats.

Naenka Runner Pro accessories

It’s a drag and drop affair here, so you’ll need to grab the USB bundled cable to simply move your music over to the headphones. The flimsy nature of the magnetic cable and port means it’s best to do it on a flat surface as it’s very easy to knock the cable out of place when transferring music over. It doesn’t rapidly transfer that music over when I moved some podcasts and music over from my MacBook.

When you want to access the music player, you can hit the power button on the headphones to effortlessly switch between the two modes. This is a big plus because the AfterShokz XTrainerz in comparison does include a built-in music player also, but doesn’t offer Bluetooth streaming.

Naenka Runner Pro hanging off edge

On the battery front, there’s a 230mAh capacity battery that’s slated to deliver around 6-7 hours when listening to music, and I found they have the capacity to deliver that and maybe more depending on how regularly you’re using them in Bluetooth mode. From an hour’s worth of running, it dropped by 10% from 100% battery.

Switching to the music player mode, and the drop seemed to be slightly less than that for a 45 minute swim, though overall with the music player in use, battery seemed to be around half of that 6-7 hours battery life and more like 2-3 hours. It’s not quite class leading for bone conduction headphones but it felt good enough on the whole.

Sound quality

  • Good sound for bone conduction
  • Doesn’t leak sound terribly

With bone conduction headphones you have to be willing to make some compromises in terms of the sound quality you’re going to enjoy. After all, it’s about delivering audio but in a way that you’re still aware of your surroundings.

The Runner Pro’s pack a 16mm speaker driver that Naenka says promises ‘dynamic stereo sound quality’. While they’re certainly not going to blow you away, they’re up there with the kind of performance you’ll get from Aftershokz’ top end bone conduction headphones.

They don’t roar with bass, but there’s ample bass response here. They’re not tinny and there’s a good top volume as well. The level of clarity and detail make them a good fit for vocals and podcasts, but they still did justice to more up tempo drum and bass, house playlists and podcasts I tend to listen to for exercise.

Naenka Runner Pro on running track

At top volume you do still get that hint of that tickle you often get with bone conduction headphones, but it wasn’t enough to put me off cranking up the volume right up.

Sound leakage is another problem with bone conduction and if you do have them up loud in relatively quiet environments, those close to you will be able to hear. If you’re in mildly busy environments it’s less of a problem, but you will get some leakage.

When I was out running near busy roads, they do get drowned out by traffic. In less busy spaces and running against smaller spots of traffic they hold up well, and it doesn’t feel like a struggle to hear what’s playing.

Naenka Runner Pro in someone's hand

It’s more good news when you get in the water. Naenka does provide a set of ear plugs to improve sound quality while swimming, but I didn’t find using them all that necessary in my pool swims. They match what Aftershokz Trainerz offer in sound performance for swimming and that’s actually a good thing because the Xtrainerz are some of the best sounding waterproof headphones available right now.

Submerged and lifting your head above the water, there’s no horrible murkiness in sound and you get audio performance that overall is surprisingly robust and well-rounded considering it’s being dipped in water. I’ve taken them for a bunch of swims and there have been no issues with how they operate or function afterwards, so they seem to hold up well on the durability front too.

Should you buy it?

You want Bluetooth headphones and a music player Unlike AfterShokz’ Xtrainers, you can switch between Bluetooth streaming and music player modes if you want to use these headphones without your phone or for swimming.

You want something with stellar sound Bone conduction headphones means sacrificing top quality sound, which you can get from headphones that do cost less.

Final Thoughts

The Naenka Runner Pro are cheaper alternatives to the Aftershokz Trainerz that offer solid sound, good battery life and a built-in music player so you leave your phone behind.

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We test every headphone we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.

FAQs

Are the Naenka Runner Pro waterproof?

Yes, with their IPX8 rating they can survive submersion into water.

How does the 8GB internal memory work?

Connect the headphones to a computer via the included cable and you can drag and drop audio files over the headphone.

Can I listen to music when swimming?

Yes you can, but a Bluetooth connection is not supported so audio can only be played via the built-in storage.

Specs

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