Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate review

Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate Review

Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate review

Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate Review

Gone are the days when your ears were left out of the wearable equation, with the hearables scene growing rapidly right now. Not only have the likes of Apple and Samsung released smarter earbud options, but devices like the Bragi Dash and Doppler Labs’ Here One are taking this space forward.

Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate Review

And looking to get in on the action is Under Armour’s Sport Wireless Heart Rate headphones — a smart version of its standard, dumb sibling — which have been powered by the folks at JBL.

Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate Review

Read this: Best hearables and smart earbuds

Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate Review

With the earpieces calculating heart rate and also providing a mix of standard and exclusive metrics for you take in after your exercise, this potentially leaves it open as an option to rival a basic GPS running watch.

Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate Review

But how does this package all come together? And are these headphones right for you? Well, read on to find out.

Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate Review

Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate: Design and features

Despite the Sport Wireless HR’s tracking smarts, there’s no real indication they’re anything other than just another pair of headphones. But since comfort during exercise is an area which can often prove to be a deal breaker, let’s explore the looks and what you’re getting with these buds.

As you’ll have already picked up, the headphones feature a hook that goes around your ear to keep them in place. This is probably the biggest difference in design between the Wireless HR’s and its rivals, such as the Jabra Sport Pulse.

And it goes without saying that this isn’t as neat an option as simply popping in a pair of buds, but we’re happy to report that this doesn’t wear down your ears, and actually serves as a solid addition to keep the pieces in place and the all-important heart rate connected. And to keep the wire behind your head flailing to one side, a clip can be attached to your top.

But how do they feel once in your ear? Well, while you’re able to tweak this with four different tips, it’s not designed to be an in-ear experience that will sit deep — think of it more along the lines of Apple’s AirPods. The headphones never shift about in your ear, and this doesn’t affect sound quality (which we’ll explore later), but it won’t be for everyone.

As for controlling the action, this can be performed through the tab sitting on the wire, which holds volume adjusters and a pause button. Holding down the volume up button will let you skip a song, while the same action can set you back a track on the volume down presser.


This also acts as your way to charge the headphones, with a port neatly tucked on the side and an LED light indicating when things are at maximum juice and when it’s trying to connect. A microphone is also located on the rear, meaning you can also handle any phone calls on your way back from the gym, if you need to.

We wish there was a way to pause workouts without having to pull out your phone — not ideal for when you’re at traffic lights on a run — but being able to simply tap the right earbud for an update on your heart rate is responsive and simple, providing you can co-ordinate yourself during a workout.

Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate: Heart monitoring performance

You’re not getting these headphones to measure your cadence or for any VO2 Max feedback, but what Under Armour does bring to the table is heart rate monitoring.

We tested the work of the Sport Wireless HR primarily against a Polar H7 chest strap — which we consider to be the peak of heart rate accuracy — but also wore an Apple Watch Series 2 for some extra glances.

Depending on your settings within the app, you can receive feedback on your pace, average heart rate and current heart rate between a range of minutes, and also tap that right ear for instant readings on your current beats.

Let’s use the outdoor run below as an example of how the headphones perform pretty regularly. Essentially, it’s okay, but not without issues. As we can see, both devices were able to lock onto heart rate pretty quickly, while also recognising the initial drops for traffic. But when looking at the breakdown of different heart zones, the headphones consistently struggle to recognise the higher end.

Under Armour (left), Polar H7 (centre), Apple Watch Series 2 (right)

While the chest strap and Apple Watch were able to stay within two or three beats of each other when hitting the top tier, the Sport Wireless HR’s seemingly underreported our heart rate. This is also reflected in the after-run metric of average heart rate, which the headphones notes was 159BPM. The chest strap and watch, meanwhile, both listed this as 168BPM.

It’s a similar story on the treadmill, which, although not the ideal place to measure distance, does provide what should be a steady and consistent comparison on your ticker.

Again, as shown below, the UA headphones are unable to negotiate heart rates at the highest level. While the chest strap is able to pick up on action crossing 178BPM, as was the Apple Watch when we looked down, too often we found the headphones sitting slightly behind and stuck in the fourth zone.

The line between the two highest zones is fairly slim here, which is likely why the headphones accounted for 60% of the workout being in the anaerobic threshold, but generally this always felt off the pace of the other devices when the going got tough. It’s certainly not a car crash of a performance, but on average this was at least 3BPM slower than our expectation, and that holds it back from being a serious option for training.

Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate: App

You’ll be tracking your activity through Under Armour’s Record app, which also acts as your hub to track nutrition, sleep and your daily calories and steps, whether you’re doing your work through iOS or Android.

But while the app itself is solid on paper, having to actually use your phone is one of the big downsides here. Although, for example, the Record app is available on the Apple Watch, it’s not able to just use the device’s in-built GPS and music storage to allow for a phone-free experience. Using a phone is common for some exercisers, but the pieces are there to create a more streamlined experience.

The app is fairly comprehensive, though, and is actually simple to navigate despite the wealth of options at your disposal. You’re able to track your heart rate and location through pretty much every kind of gym workout — from your core and upper body to the stair machine and elliptical.

That’s providing you can connect the headphones, that is, as we encountered consistent issues. When setting up to begin a workout, you’re shifted onto a screen which allows you to connect to the phone’s GPS, adjust audio feedback, set goals for the workout.

Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate - Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate Review

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However, once you select the headphones as your heart rate source and tap back to begin your exercise, you’ll be told you’ve been disconnected. We found that the two eventually shake hands when staying in these menus for a longer amount of time, but this is far from seamless, and does leave you standing around getting cold before a run.

As for post-workout metrics, you’ll be greeted with an average intensity percentage and Under Armour’s own WILLpower rating. This, on a scale of 0.0 – 10, will score you how hard your body has worked in a single session, taking into account the length of your workout, body position, your user profile, heart rate information, ventilatory threshold, recovery rate, activity level and dynamic changes within your heart rate.

This is one of the stronger points of the app, in our view, and one that matches up favourably with how a workout went and the various stats you’ve compiled. However, there’s still more potential to be unlocked through the heart rate monitoring, as we’ve seen various biometrics and VO2 Max training included in rival headphones.

When it comes to GPS accuracy, the app can usually match up with other devices fairly strongly. There have been a couple of instances when the total distance has been overstated, but this is never anything over 0.3km.

Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate: Sound quality

While the smart metrics and feedback is all well and good, it means little if the headphones don’t sound good enough to assist you on runs through busy streets or blur out the consistently mind-melting gym music.

Throughout the testing process, we were very happy with the sound we received from the Wireless Sport HR headphones. There’s always the fear that some of the tech can get in the way of the playback quality, but you’ll consistently find strong bass tones and noise isolation.

You’ll likely have to crank your volume all the way to the top, but that isn’t too uncommon when dealing with audio over Bluetooth. One of the biggest compliments we can pay the headphones in this area is that they make the Jabra Sport Pulse earpieces — which we gave a glowing review — sound tinny, in comparison.

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Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate: Battery

We’ve found the battery to be hit and miss during testing, but thankfully early issues were able to be resolved relatively simply.

During the first two runs with the pair, in which we started out with at least 90% battery, we were hit with battery warnings after around 45 minutes. Not ideal. But after tinkering around with different settings, we were able to rectify the issue.

Now an hour of use with heart rate won’t even take 10% off the overall total, leaving us confident we could use the Sport Wireless HR on bigger runs and also that Under Armour’s claim of five hours battery is about right.


Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate

By JBL

The Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate headphones provide strong sound quality and a comfortable fit for those looking for something for the gym or their runs. But while it surpasses its rivals in this area, the smarts just aren’t up to the same level. Heart rate monitoring isn’t as strong as competitors, and this is only compounded by a lack of metrics for serious athletes and having to piggyback GPS from a smartphone.


  • Light and comfortable fit
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Battery life is solid
  • Heart monitoring not completely accurate
  • Have to pair with your smartphone
  • Metrics could be improved


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Published at Fri, 05 May 2017 23:10:41 +0000

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