While we are very impressed at the super-useful skip-forward function and wish other bonephones had it, unfortunately the sound quality of the 9 Digital Super Q3 bone conduction sports headphones is not good enough for us to recommend buying them for outdoor use while running, so we’ll just have to keep digging out our smartphone out to skip those irritating adverts.
Very low price
Bone conduction for safety
Easy to pair with phone
Buttons easy to find and press
Smooth, yet grippy silicone coating
Good battery life
Quick charge option
Sound quality definitely not as good as higher-priced models
Wind noise audible to phone call recipients in exposed locations
High wind and wet road noise obscures sound
No quick charge option
No dual device connection
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9 Digital Super Q3: first impressions
• List price: £60 (UK) / $76 (USA)
• Weight: 32g / 1.1oz
• Colors: Black
• Water protection: IP67 – very waterproof
• Battery life: 8 hours
• Quick charge time: na
• Full charge time: 1.5-2 hours
• Charger type: USB-C connection to USB
• Dual device connection: No
• Compatibility: Running indoors or outside use in still weather
We’ll get to that in a moment, but let’s first look at the basics. They weigh a respectable 32g and they’re very water resistant, rated IP67. They're covered with smooth-but-grippy silicone that keeps them nice and secure on your head and on a full 1.5 to two-hour charge they last for eight hours, which is up there with much pricer alternatives.
The on/off button and volume controls under the left side are raised high enough that they’re reasonably easy to find with running gloves on and not mistake for the charging port, and there’s another easy-to-find function button on the left ear piece.
These 9 Digital bone conduction headphones have all the functions you’d expect from more expensive models, including volume, the ability to skip tracks back and forward, and activate your phone's voice assistant. However, the function I'm thrilled about is called 'skip to forward song'. With a triple-click you can skip forward through music or an irritating podcast advert by a few seconds. We haven’t seen any other bonephones with this very useful function. Why? Are they in league with the podcast advertisers? I don't know, but I love it.
9 Digital Super Q3: on the trails
Sadly, the excitement ends when you take the 9 Digital Super Q3 out in the noise of nature. Yes, the sound quality is better than a very basic pair of $20 bonephones we were also testing at the same time, but music still sounds very tinny and like it's playing far away in an echoey room.
You also have to have the volume on as loud as possible to hear a podcast or phone call, even in light wind, which causes a slight buzzing sensation on your cheekbones. It’s not the most pleasurable of listening experiences while out running on the roads and trails and the wind noise of cycling at any great speed would rule these out for sure (see also: headphones vs the sounds of nature).
During a call, my recipient reported a crackly, sometimes intermittent sound, even light wind. When we connected to a higher-priced headphone without telling them, they immediately reported a much better sound experience, along with a sigh of relief.
It’s a shame because the 'skip to forward song' function on these super-low-priced bone conduction headphones is such a great feature. However, if you aren’t too bothered about sound quality and want to wear them indoors or in good, still weather, you might get on well with these.
The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.