Under Armour HOVR review: Smarter running shoes, light on gimmicks

Enlarge / Vaguely reminiscent of the famous drawing of Steph Curry of the mark .

Valentina Palladino

In recent years, I have followed my race in many ways – bracelets smartwatches, trousers sensors, socks and others. But smart running shoes have always promised the most practical solution for those who want to follow the race without additional devices. Unless you prefer running barefoot (which some do), everyone needs a pair of shoes before running. And why not make these shoes work a little harder?

Under Armor first embraced this idea with the launch of his smart sneakers Speedform Gemini 2 a few years ago. Now the company has new models with improved internal technology in the form of $ 130 to $ 140 HOVR Phantom and $ 100 – $ 110 HOVR Sonic connected shoes. The new kicks follow every step of your race, capturing enough data to educate novice riders and experts on their form and progress. And in combination with the improved MapMyRun app, the new HOVR shoes make a good case for giving up that smart bracelet and donning a pair instead.


On the two new models of Under Armor shoes made their debut, I tested the Phantom HOVR. It has an improved design that is made with a wax-based foam for a better return of energy, smoothness and adaptability. The name HOVR (pronounced "hover") comes from the new foam cushion with a durometer contained in the "energy tablecloth" of Under Armor, which is supposed to be responsive and better direct the energy than other designs.

The knit collar around the ankle and the knit forefoot make the Phantom a foot sock, which some runners will appreciate more than others (the Sonic is more minimalist and n '# 39; has no knit collar). It took me some shopping to get used to this style, but the Phantoms were very supportive and comfortable, both during indoor and outdoor training.

Under Armor's previous connected shoes, the Speedform Gemini 2 are completely different from the two HOVR models, and the new shoes also have unseen design changes. Under Armor sensor sub-module, the technology used to track the run and transmit this data to the MapMyRun application, remains embedded in the outsole of the right shoe, but has been improved. The company representatives told Ars that the connectivity and transfer capabilities of the new pod are much better than those of the previous model, which allows it to better maintain a connection to the MapMyRun application and to send him more data. In the future, Under Armor hopes to add more traceable statistics to footwear by pushing software and firmware updates.

Under Armor also lowered the threshold for race tracking: in its previous connected shoes, you had to run at a pace of 11 minutes per mile so that the shoes could properly track the exercise. Although Under Armor did not specify the new pace requirement, she said the new shoes will now be able to detect the race at slower speeds.

Like the Gemini 2, the HOVR shoes do not need to be loaded. According to Under Armor, the battery will survive the wear and tear of the shoe, which means that the shoes will wear to the point where you will need a new pair before the battery comes to die. The company says that HOVR shoes last on average 300 miles of use, but it is difficult to estimate the battery life because each user has a different schedule and frequency. However, the shoes go into energy saving mode when they are not used to maintain the battery life for a longer period.

Under Armor Running Shoe Profile HOVR Phantom.

Valentina Palladino

Forefoot circular mesh, tongue and collar.

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External heel counter with improved locking to help kick the foot.

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Knit collar around the ankle grips for a sock feel.

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The pod of the sensor is embedded in the sole near the middle part of the shoe, and not in the circle under the heel.

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HOVR Phantom and HOVR Sonic (not shown) are the two new connected race shoes from Under Armor.

Valentina Palladino

Running while connected

Race in the open air

The race connected with the HOVR Phantoms, it's like running with ordinary shoes, just lace them up and leave, but you let the shoes do the tracking. You can start an activity recorded in MapMyRun by hitting the sidewalk, but this is not necessary, thanks to the unattached running function. This function allows you to run without the application and save the activity – the shoes automatically recognize that you are racing and will track the duration, distance, calories, pace, cadence and stride length, by downloading MapMyRun the next time you open the application.

There are some advantages of running with MapMyRun working in tandem with the shoes to follow you in real time. But personally, the autonomous race is my favorite kind of race because it allows me to do what I want without worrying about whether I'm running indoors or outdoors, integrating programs with MapMyRun, or using audio feedback or vocal coaching. Sometimes I want to worry about these things, but most of the time I do not do it.

An unattached race with the HOVR Phantoms is very similar to a race with the Fitbit SmartTrack, which automatically follows a workout after more than 10 minutes. Phantoms do not seem to have such a high minute threshold for automatic tracking since most of my recorded run times match the actual time I spent running. The data captured by the Phantoms (at least the distance, the duration and the rhythm) were still almost identical to those of my treadmill or my own calculations.

Under Armor and Fitbit technologies encourage you to forget the devices you wear and exercise freely. Under Armor is more effective only because it is integrated into the technology you already need – shoes. If you forget to put your Fitbit before doing your morning jog, it's as if this jogging had never happened (at least, in Fitbit's eyes).

With MapMyRun

If you were to forget your Fitbit, you can add exercises to your daily diary in the Fitbit app. But with the technology built into your racing gear, you should never have to do it when using HOVR Phantoms. This is the easiest way for runners to track workouts and progress, as long as you like HOVR shoe styles. If you are particular about the type of running shoe you are using, however, HOVR may not be the best option for you. For the future, I would like to see Under Armor take a Fossil Group approach and build a connected technology in all its shoe styles, allowing more runners with different shoe preferences to take advantage of the approach. connected.

To manually run a race in MapMyRun, the shoes must connect to the application. The enhanced sensor module of Under Armor makes it an almost instantaneous act. If you wear the Phantoms and you hold your phone with MapMyRun open, it only takes a few seconds to connect. From there, you can simply choose the type of workout you are doing and press the green start button located at the bottom of the home page of the application.

Depending on the activity, MapMyRun will display a map of your route in addition to all your race statistics. MapMyRun uses the GPS of your smartphone to track your location, so you only get a route map when you use the app in tandem with the HOVR shoes. Since the shoes themselves do not have built-in GPS, they can not track the location on unconnected tracks.

Otherwise, the shoes collect accurate race data, whether you are inside or out. Many running devices, especially connected shoes, get tripped while you run on the treadmill because you do not win any land that the shoes can follow. But Under Armor has optimized the shoes for them to work accurately no matter where you run, so frequent gym enthusiasts will not have the tip of the stick.

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