It records your running performance, such as stride length, pace, and splits so that you can chart your improvements and form.
So, I downloaded the app, and it didn't work the first time. I downloaded it again and had to sync the app a few times so it could recognise the trainers.
After starting the run, I then had comments like "warm-up pace for 3 minutes ... looking good, and increase your stride length."
After about a dozen of these runs, I did get "bored" of hearing the "increase your stride length" every few minutes when I was pushing as hard as I could. So, I stopped using MapMyRun. They do, however, provide regular blogs on running tips.
Anyway, let's get back to the UA HOVR Phantom RN. The Phantom comes in four colours: red, white, black and black/white.
The RN is built for the runner who wants to feel nothing as they're pounding the pavement. I've got the black/white version. The red is too bold and bright for me while the white will pick up stains if you just wanted them to look good for going out.
I prefer a two-tone colour combination rather than one. The black/white version has black for the upper and white for the midsole and outsole.
You never know when buying a pair of running shoes, whether they are true-to-fit or not—each person's feet are different.
I'm a UK size 7.5, and the running did not feel tight or loose—just right, and the speed foam sockliner meant no sliding of the feet and the mesh upper meant breathability. This led to no blisters.
There are four logos on the RN—a black HOVR on the white layer:
A grey HOVR and white Phantom RN on the tongue:
A black UA symbol on the upper:
And a white UA on the outsole which is part of the HOVR cushion element.
I'm not keen on having four logos, just one for me is enough—the black UA HOVR on the upper is the best one for me as it stands out
The upper section of the RN is built into three parts: the knit at the front:
to the tongue:
And then to the ankle collar. I like the use of the ankle collar to put your feet in the shoe, and once the laces are done up, it does provide a tight fit.
The second part is a more durable element that also attaches to the laces has airlets for breathability (which look like croc shoes) and attaches to the knit.
The third part seems to have a harder material attached to around the ankle part of the RN, which has the black UA logo.
Maybe this provides durability or is just aesthetic looking? The knit has two layers for the laces, which makes for a tighter fit and also adds more breathability.
There were no problems with the laces—they did not come undone when running. The insole is non-removable and fits your feet really well.
It has a sock-like fit and a soft, comfortable SpeedForm™ 2.0 sockliner. The soft foam in the upper and a molded 3D footbed provided shock attenuation and comfort to support the midsole of the shoe.
The white middle section of the RN has two functions. The EVA foam which is used to propel you forward and the heel with an odd-like mesh colouring (black/white) of what looks like pebbles.
This is the HOVR cushion element which provides a good return.
The outsole of the RN has some dimples (shaped like snowflakes) and some white round circular inlets.
The dimples protrude outwards so should provide a little bit more grip than the inlets. The dimples run from the middle of the outsole and then a narrow strip to the top of the toe-box whereas the circular inlets are predominantly at the front of the toe-box and the back.
I found that there was an adequate grip on asphalt and trails in dry conditions. In wet conditions, there were some slippery moments, but these are not trail shoes.
Running also on wet grass, my feet were more soaked than trail shoes in the past and did not keep out splashes. The HOVR seems to have compromised breathability more than dryness (or is that a contradiction?).
There is also a UA symbol, which forms part of the HOVR cushion element and perhaps where the synching happens for MapMyRun.
I like the thickness of the outsole (when compared to zero-drop running shoes) as this adds more cushioning which for me doesn't seem to be compromised on weight and the HOVR cushion element does provide a good energy return.
This is enhanced by a full-length platform of the UA HOVR foam, and when combined with the dynamic mesh energy web, it creates a zero-gravity feel. The durable rubber runs the full length of the outsole, for comfort and abrasion resistance from the road.
Overall the design/appearance I wouldn't say is stylish to look at as the rear of the RN has three protruding parts, not in line with each other: the odd-like mesh colouring; the durable element and the ankle collar.
UA has developed HOVR foam technology, which promises a "zero-gravity feel" through its energy-returning responsiveness. The Phantom is designed for easier efforts and aimed at runners who value comfort above all.
I tried the Phantom on many runs: 25 runs in total for 5 miles (130 miles) each on different surfaces - treadmill, asphalt and on trails and also on the flat, uphill and downhill.
Supinator wear after 130 miles
I was most surprised by how springy it felt when I decided to work on my sprints, especially because it felt cushioned during the subsequent slow section of the run.
I didn't feel as is if it was a "heavy" shoe to wear. On the contrary, it did feel surprisingly light since it is not a zero-drop running shoe.
The retail price is £120 (excluding sale prices and including the use of the app), which I think with or without the app is overpriced.
The RN performs just as well as the Brooks Ghost 12. The Ghost does not let in as much water, which I prefer when compared to the RN. But, the RN is more breathable, and the Ghost was at £100 not in a sale.
Maybe I'm being a bit harsh on the HOVR as you can get it for £80 in a sale, which I would buy but not if I was asked to pay £120 even with the app.
The HOVR lost 5 points for the app, which didn't benefit me (but probably would have been more beneficial if I could spend the time reading the blogs and seeing where can I improve).
It also lost another 5 points because it didn't keep out enough of the water, especially on wet grass, and it wasn't currently raining!
I should probably wear at least a mask. Being a phantom, or any kind of superhero introduces lots of code of conduct and strict rules - wearing masks, underwear, or shorts on top of long pants, telling the bad guys that you are going after them–instead of just catching them right away, etc.
Having that said, being in possession of the right tech-stuff or superpower is beneficial for success. As a runner, I need fast stuff on my feet–rockets that quickly adjust to my current energy level and new environments.
Okay, before going after the bad guys, I will take a closer look at the Under Armour HOVR Phantom RN. Maybe they could do the trick. Did I tell that the bad guys are those folks that dare to pass me on my runs? Bad manners, and bad, bad people!
Oh, the shoes? Right! Focus!
The weight is average with a 310 gram in US 10/ UK 9/ EU 44 /CM 28.
The Phantoms are equipped with a heel hook, which is a great help when you try to slip into them (superheroes do have to change shoes in a hurry, you know), especially because the upper is what I would call a compression-like bootie construction.
They sit quite tight, even while I have slightly narrow feet. If you have wider feet, consider going up half a size.
The tight fit was really reassuring. I have never had a running shoe that felt that stable and comfortable at the same time.
The SpeedForm sockliner adds to that. If you are looking for shoes for turning corners at full speed with no hesitation, these are the shoes for you.
The black upper has a somehow Batman-ish kind of look and feel. Well not exactly made of bats, but with lots of holes strategically placed on the black midfoot panel, there is proper ventilation for sunny days to come.
The heel counter is fine–you don’t notice it, it simply works without getting in the way.
The soft HOVR midsole is wrapped in a “compression mesh energy web” and further encapsulated in a solid foam. The HOVR and web are revealed at the heel, in a wide cutout on the outside of the sole, and in a similar cutout under the sole.
The idea behind this cutout construction is to channel the deformation of the HOVR at ground contact into controlled expansion longitudinally, resulting in fast forward motion.
Trying to bend the sole reveals a rather stiff construction, so I expect a rather firm experience, hopefully with enough cushioning to support my not-so-superhero-ish knees. The heel-to-toe drop is 8 mm, which is common and should suit a large audience.
The outsole has a slightly knobbed texture and is made of rubber in a balanced layer, not too thick, nor too thin, and with no doubt optimized for urban and paved running.
The first run confirmed the extraordinary sock-lite fit. This is a really great upper. The insole seems to be made of memory foam, which added to the pleasant experience of my first 8-km spin on the road.
The cushioning is balanced, that is not too firm, nor too soft, but a bit to the firm side, I would say. I noticed no extra rebound or energy return, but again, it was just an initial shuffle.
The shoes did very well at supporting midfoot running and a proper running posture. Besides that, I noticed a higher turnover–or cadence, if you will. Maybe these beasts are meant for speed after all
The right shoe has an additional feature – a Bluetooth device built in the sole for tracking activity and syncing with the MapMyRun app. Under Armour states that the battery life of the device surpasses the life expectancy of the shoe.
The MapMyRun app did connect to the shoes with Bluetooth without much fuzziness. However, when I returned to home and phone, the app had only recorded 0.06 km.
Synching several times didn’t transfer the data from shoes to the app, so I gave up then. But it was a nice ride anyway.
I later learned that synchronizing will be done automatically 5 minutes after the workout if shoes and app are within the Bluetooth range. The 5 minutes delay is to avoid inadvertently transferring data before a workout is finished.
Well, that sounded good. However, in the following workouts, I had the same experience –no sync, so I ditched the measuring. Too much trouble and no outcome.
In the succeeding runs, I also discovered that the fast turnover was because of shortened strides due to tired legs. In fact, I couldn’t do faster runs or speed work in these shoes. It was like driving with the handbrake on, impossible to speed up.
The shoes generally felt more like a hindrance than support for my running. The soles felt too firm in workouts but, to my surprise, much softer when used for proper walking. Three weeks of break-in and 50+ miles didn’t alter that.
So, to wrap this story up, I did not become a phantom or any kind of superhero in these shoes. These rockets backfired on me and I can’t see them stand out in any particular way. I like the look, I like the feel, but I don’t like the action.
A running shoe must at least generate some sort of motivation, and it just did not happen for me with the UA HOVR Phantom RNs, despite the extremely comfortable upper.
Add softer cushioning and more rebound, please and we might have a winner. Maybe just adding more HOVR and removing some of the stiff foam would do the trick?
For me, as a midfoot striker, it was just another ordinary shoe but with an incredible upper. But for heel strikers, this could turn out to be a terrific shoe, based on the feeling and cushioning when walking, but these shoes simply didn’t make this midfoot-landing superhero fly.
Under Armour—not a brand that I would usually go for, but I have been keen to try their HOVR cushioning. I have been checking them online in preparation for the next running shoes to add to my rotation because my Asics are coming towards the end of their running life and heading towards a new role–dog walking.
Luckily for me, I have been sent the new HOVR Phantom RN to test. The HOVR Phantom RN is the latest iteration of the HOVR Phantom range and is a neutral-cushioned shoe with an 8 mm drop and weighs 305 grams at size 9.5.
At the time of writing, the Phantom is retailing at £120, a little out of my price range. This price bracket puts it in direct competition with Adidas Ultra Boost, Hoka Clifton, New Balance 1080 v10, Asics Gel Nimbus, some very accomplished rivals. I was expecting big things.
Overall, I have completed approximately 100 km in the Phantoms. My regular running routes are 7, 9, 10, and 12 km and the Phantom has been used on all these distances.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been able to test the Phantom on a high-tempo 5-km park run. To mitigate this, I would alternate the Tempo during my leisure runs to test how the Phantom would react.
I mainly run on tarmac and concrete; however, part of my regular routes has a 3-4 km stretch of gravel path. My local area is relatively hilly; therefore the Phantom has been tested on numerous flats, inclines, and declines. The recent weather conditions in my area have been dry and mild (average 12-20℃).
WOW and not in a good way.
The color. What can I say about the color? Under Armour calls it red, I would call it highlighter pink.
I know that this is purely subjective, and some people may like the color. For me, it is definitely the worst of the range. The only color that I would think about buying would be a solid black color pattern.
Shoe design. Again, another subjective area. In all honesty, I was not a fan. I felt that Under Armour tried too hard to make a leisure trainer that can also be used as a running trainer or vice versa.
My dislike of the whole Phantom range color scheme and shoe design might suggest that being in my early forties, I am maybe not the desired target audience. It may be aimed at a younger market.
The upper is a bootie style, constructed from a two-piece combination of a stretchy knit with a neoprene-like material. The stretchy knit covers the whole toe box and rises up behind the laces and into a sock-like ankle collar, whilst the midfoot and heel support are decorative 3D effect patterned neoprenes.
The neoprene features teardrop-shaped ventilation holes that rise from the upper/midsole join to just below the knitted collar.
Decorative touches continue with the stitchwork that joins the two materials together. It’s definitely a step up in complexity that the standard basic stitch work that is normally present in uppers and has so far had no rubbing effects on my feet whilst running.
Finally, the heel counter is external, and worrying feels very flexible. All this really reinforces my opinion that Under Armour is aiming this shoe at both the leisure and running markets.
So how does the upper perform? A bit of a mixed bag, in all honesty.
Firstly, the sizing and fit, I would say it runs a little small. I always go a half size up in running shoes just for a little extra room in the toes.
On the Phantom RN, I find my toes close to the end for my liking. Despite this, my feet don’t feel tight as the knitted upper has decent stretching properties.
However, when I wear Under Armour running sock, the upper around the toe box becomes very snug if not borderline tight. Where the fit does feel snug is along the sides where the neoprene upper is, for me, it’s a little bit too snug in an area where I would prefer it a little loose.
I don’t feel the external heel counter fixes my foot in place securely during a run. I think this lack of stability results in my toes digging into the sock liner to try and maintain stability, this has resulted in my first ever blisters on the tip of the toe and under the ball of my big toe in nearly 12 years of running – very disappointing.
Because of this, I had to alternate my runs with some of my other running trainers just to give my feet a break. Speaking of the fixed sock liner, the Phantom features the ‘Speedform 2.0’ technology. Similar in feel to memory foam it is supposed to mold to the unique shape of my foot due to its inclusion of gender-specific contours. This molding is supposed to happen over time and (at the time of writing) has not happened but it is a nice softly padded sock liner nevertheless.
The bootie style is surprisingly easy to get on and off. The knitted collar provides a nice snug fit that caused me no issue with friction whilst running—although I do wear full-length socks.
If you favor low-cut trainer socks, you might find the top of the sock falling below the knitted collar.
There's no benefit from the flat laces either. Tie them tight or leave them slack, they have no use in adjusting the fit. I can even easily get my foot in and out with them tied.
Another concern is the remnants of the manufacturing process. There are numerous visible glue marks along the join of the upper to the midsole.
As a consumer I would expect a better build quality and quality control – don’t forget this running shoe retails at £120 (at the time of writing). At that price, it should have a premium feel and quality to it.
The really big problem with the upper is breathability. After about 1-2 km my feet get very warm, it’s almost uncomfortable but is most definitely unpleasant.
The kitted upper provides zero ventilation when compared to traditional mesh uppers. The holes incorporated in the neoprene are no better and seem decorative rather than functional–style of functionality, maybe?
In summary, the upper is both snug and loose but in all the wrong places. Being a bootie style, the padding and support around the ankle and heel is not as plush and stable as I am used to.
It is easy to get on and off and is nice and comfy to wear. Unfortunately, the problems become apparent after only a few km. Poor breathability and ventilation, as well as stability and friction issues ultimately leave me slightly underwhelmed.
This is the part I was keen to try. The midsole contains Under Armour's premium HOVR cushioning, aimed at providing a ‘zero gravity feel and great energy return. It is soft and springy and encased in an energy web that keeps it molded in shape.
This combination is further encased in firmer molded EVA midsole. Pitched as a rival to Adidas Boost, Nike React, or ASICS Flyteform technologies the midsole is supposed to attenuate impact and provide a responsiveness. Add in an 8mm drop and it does feel really nice underfoot.
The big star is the heel strike. Being like the vast majority of runners, a heavy heel striker, the HOVR cushioning is just phenomenal. Its softness and spring really eliminates impact with great efficiency and leads to a smooth gait cycle.
The strategically-placed slits in the midsole help with flexibility. However, all this is ruined by the toe-off.
The HOVR cushioning doesn’t run full-length and is it really evident where it ends–in the midfoot section. The soft, springy cushioning that effortlessly deals with all the harsh impacts disappears and you are left with an almost-minimalist experience of feeling the ground beneath your toes.
Part of my regular running routes includes a 3-4 km gravel path. And for all of that 3-4 km, I can feel every piece of gravel that comes in contact with the midsole during toe-off.
Even on the tarmac, I can feel the knobbed outsole under the toes. This sensation is elevated when running down inclines when I tend to land more on my forefoot and toes.
I have never experienced this before. Surely, this must have been picked up during product development. A full-length HOVR midsole, like on the Velociti or Infinite models, would easily have fixed this problem
As with the midsole, it reacts differently to different paces. I have found the Phantom is better when I am running at a higher tempo.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have not been able to complete any high tempo 5k park runs, where I normally average a 4.30 mins/per km tempo. My local park run is a good test of both lineal and lateral stress due to some tight hairpin turns.
What I have noticed is that my average pace for my leisure runs is slightly quicker in the Phantoms than in my other running shoes. My 7, 9, and 12-km routes have all been at an average pace of 5.30 km/mins in the Phantom. Normally my average pace is 5.45/5.50 km/mins.
Possible reasons for this might be the smooth gait cycle, its deceptively light feel on the feet, or maybe due to minimizing the uncomfortable toe-off. The Phantom is much comfier and happy at higher tempo runs.
The outsole is a full-blown rubber outsole that features a unique knobbed texture for elevated traction and durability. The texture is very reminiscent of a trail shoe.
In the forefoot, there are grooves that tie in with the slits in the midsole, aiding flexibility. The outsole performs as expected in the weather conditions and surfaces over the testing period.
The issues with the outsole for me are the knobbed texture during toe-off and durability.
First, the knobbed texture is felt during toe-off, especially on tarmac. In terms of strength, the full-blown rubber has taken some considerable wear in the heel. So much so that it's worn almost flush with the midsole/
The outsole pales in comparison to ASICS AHAR+ or Saucony's XT-900 carbon rubber. In fact, the wear on the Phantoms after 100 km is worse than my Sauconys with 270 km on.
I will be surprised if the Phantoms get anywhere 550-700 km that I would expect out of a pair of running shoes.
The Phantom features connectivity to MapMyRun app with a GPS tracker embedded in the heel. It is an interesting and unique selling point that Under Armour has capitalized on first. The app is easily downloaded from the app store.
The connectivity of the app and shoe was a touch laborious. The on-screen instructions were simple to follow but I had to repeat them numerous times because my phone struggled to locate the shoe and pair successfully. It took about 30 minutes of repeated attempts before connecting.
When I went for a run the next day, I noticed that the shoe and app were no longer connected. I made a couple of attempts with little success, then gave up and used my phone’s GPS. The MapMyRun app has all the features you would expect and reliably measured a very similar distance to my usual app.
This issue I have with this feature is this: as an experienced runner, and like many other experienced runners, I have been using an app for several years and have collected a huge amount of data about my development, routes, etc. I don’t think I would change apps and lose all my data.
The retail price of the shoe is probably too expensive for a starter shoe for beginners. I am left with the feeling that maybe it just a bit gimmicky.
The Under Armour Phantom RN has left me with the feeling of what could have been. There are plenty of elements that I really like. The bootie style is slipper-like on the feet and ankle, and the stretch knit fabric makes putting it on a breeze.
The HOVR cushioning is sensational, it makes heel striking effortless. It’s flexible and feels deceptively lighter than the actual weight (305 grams), but it is badly let down by some serious flaws.
The lack of stability in the heel, poor ventilation, uncomfortable toe-off, and question marks for the outsole's durability are big issues. These could have and really should have been dealt with during design and production.
A full-length HOVR cushioning would have made an enormous difference and a more breathable knitted upper would have turned the Phantom from decent to an exceptionally good daily running shoe.
There is also this feeling of compromising the performance and functionality to make the shoe more appealing as a lifestyle/leisure trainer.
Would I buy these with my own money? Unfortunately, no, but I will definitely look at the HOVR Sonic, Velociti, or Infinite next time I splash the cash on new pair of running shoes.
Good to know
The Under Armour HOVR™ Phantom RN is strategically made for runners who need the perfect combination of excellent cushioning and flexibility. This footwear still follows the footsteps and design of the past Under Armour HOVR™ running shoes except that it is now more stretchable and sleeker.
It features the UA MapMyRun app, which allows the user to analyze and track his running metrics. With the utilization of this app, the runner can monitor his performance on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. This is essential in coaching the runner with his cadence, distance, pace, and stride length. With or without the use of phones, the app can still be used.
The Under Armour HOVR™ Phantom RN is sure to provide a more secure fit. With the utilization of the knit upper, a personalized fit is delivered. The use of this material offers breathability, which creates a more comfortable and enjoyable ride.
A full rubber outsole is integrated into the Under Armour HOVR Phantom RN. It features a unique knobbed texture which aims to increase traction. This component of the shoe provides added durability as well.
Utilized in the running footwear is the UA HOVR™ technology. This feature is added to provide a zero-gravity feel. This is essential in maintaining excellent energy return, helping eliminate the impact in every stride.
The Compression mesh Energy Web is used in crafting the shoe. This material contains and molds the UA HOVR™ foam that is significant in giving back the energy the user puts in.
Featured in the shoe is the ultra-breathable SpeedForm® 2.0 sockliner. This material is built into the shoe along with the gender-specific contours to deliver extra protection to the foot. The sockliner also provides a softer underfoot support during the running session.
In comparison to the Asics GT 2000 7 that utilizes Jacquard mesh, the Under Armour HOVR Phantom RN has an integrated knit upper. This material is described to dry fast, making the shoe breathable. It delivers a compression-like fit that aims to provide unmatched comfort and lightweight directional strength.
Along with the knit upper is the 3D molded midfoot panel with laser perforations. This component of the running shoe is vital in increasing ventilation during the activities.
Utilized in the shoe is the knit ankle collar. The primary purpose of this is to provide a snugger and bootie-like fit.
The external heel counter is used in making the shoe. Under Armour added this feature to create a steadier support during the running session.
In the shoe's midsole area, the chip is secured in a watertight casing to prevent it from being damaged or wet during the activity.
How HOVR Phantom RN compares
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