Right out of the box, it was a surprise discovering a shoe with an unusual design. That includes the reinforcement at the heel and the sole (on its lateral side external).
In addition, this HOVR foam midsole conceals a Bluetooth chip that allows easy connection to the Map My Run app (iOS/Android) which allows a detailed analysis of multiple parameters like a smartwatch.
The design of this shoe makes it look like a sneaker shoe. In fact, I can see myself wearing these on the streets or as my everyday look.
The mesh seems quite flexible and airy on the toebox and becomes more and more rigid as one approaches the heel.
The flexibility of the shoe is surprising. It reminds me of a minimalist shoe, except with a drop of 8mm and a weight around 290 grams.
The laces merge into the decor, and the ten eyelets are evenly distributed along the length of the upper of the shoe.
Upper & insole
Its running sock with soles and laces! The insole is supple and soft, and no friction alters this feeling of softness.
For those fans of running without socks, this shoe is made for you! The insole is attached throughout its length to the midsole.
I use these pair in preparation for my upcoming half-distance triathlon (70.3). I notice it's easy to wear (thanks to the heel-pull and its integral fit) and it's very soft and flexible.
The outsole of the Under Armour HOVR Phantom SE is primarily made of rubber with abrasion-resistant virtues.
It has small recesses and spots in places. The central guideline allows some flexibility while the outsole does not harvest any pebbles during the run.
It follows the shape of the arch and has a soft feel when in use. Moreover, the alterations of the ground are hardly felt during the race, although this model is more advised on flat and regular ground.
There's a special feature located under the heel, a Bluetooth chip that allows the use of the application Map My Run (more below).
The HOVR technology, found in several models of the American brand, is lightweight foam designed from olefin, which is a synthetic fiber with a texture similar to wax. In addition, a compressed mesh (Energy Web) encapsulates this HOVR foam.
In terms of cushioning, it is fluid, and the feeling is well distributed over the entire sole. For those who are more adept of a heel attack, the 8mm drop is the job.
There is a microfiber construction that lets the foot breathe while keeping it comfortably in place.
However, this very lax mesh is less optimal during variations in elevation and changes of direction. So I would say that the shoes are more efficient in straight-line races at regular intensity.
In addition, a 3D printed band is perforated with a laser to correct ventilation. I believe this feature gives a significant support to the foot while maintaining breathability to it.
The heel of the shoe is equipped with a stronger and design buttress for support and protection against possible shocks. My initial fear was that it cracked the surrounding foam due to torsion during the foot pose in heel attack, but this is not the case.
The MapMyRun app
Sales argument or real innovation? In any case, it works!
Using this app is very simple and fast. After some personal information encoded, you can directly launch an activity. It is also possible to build fractional training sessions that will be dictated by the application.
Data such as mileage, heart rate, pacing are collected and analyzed. The results can be synchronized with other online services like Strava and Garmin Connect, to name a few.
Overall, this feature is a real plus to consider the reason to buy the Under Armour HOVR Phantom SE.
- The insole gives a feeling of softness to the feet
- The very powerful app that can motivate and help the runner
- The very airy mesh and lax which allows a good ventilation of the foot
- Lack of support during rapid changes of direction
- The lack of tightness of the mesh at the toebox
The Under Armour Phantom SE are pitched as a lightweight, flexible running shoe with built-in sensors to analyze your runs. But it seems like they have a way to go before challenging the likes of Nike, New Balance and the other big players of the running world.
This is an attractive looking trainer. It feels a bit like they are trying to cram technology that they think people want over technology that will make it an effective running shoe. If Under Armour wants to compete with the major running brands, they are going to up their game from this.
It’s not all bad
I don’t want you to think that this is a bashing of the new Under Armour SE and there aren’t any positives here. There is a market for this shoe and like all sports kit, what works for some people doesn’t necessarily work for others.
As I have mentioned in other reviews, I am a forefoot striker. So, I tend to find those shoes that work for others don’t work for me, and I guess that the same goes the other way.
The Phantom SE is marketed with the in-shoe technology that links up with the “Map My Run” app, from Under Armour. This means that the shoe can track your activities and adds more data to your running activity.
The sensor can work without being linked to your phone during your run. But I found that the data from the sensor alone was inaccurate and therefore didn’t paint the whole picture for you.
Out of the box, the influence of bigger brands is evident. A fly knit type upper presents itself and lace loops are the same as you would find on lightweight New Balance and Nike shoes.
The upper on the Phantom SE is thicker than on other brands, and this leads to some problems which I will cover later.
A very lightweight shoe, my size 10s came in at just under 300g each and felt light compared to similar size shoes.
Reflective details on the shoe will give you a bit of visibility when running at night, and the polarizing details are quite funky to look at during the day — making the shoe look a bit more dynamic.
Upper & fit
The mesh upper of the shoe is neat and with no reinforcement over the big toe area, which to many runners is a known weak point.
Moving back, the “Under Armour” symbol that changes colour in the light leads to a reinforcement cup on the heel. This cup adds bulk to the shoe, and in my opinion, makes it look quite chunky, rather than giving the shoe clean lines.
The laces supplied with the shoe are of the "flat kind" but don’t have much stretch in them and this along with the upper materialled to some problems with me. Securing the shoe was quite difficult.
I found that if you tied the laces to a point where they were comfortable, the upper material wouldn’t be tight enough to hold the foot. But if you tied the laces so that your foot was secure, the laces would be too tight, and I would get pain across the top of my foot after about 2 miles.
As a result, while running, I could never find that perfect fit. I had to pick one over the other either. I hade a well-fitting shoe that gave me pain across the top of my foot, or I had a comfortable shoe that allowed my foot to move about and cause hotspots on my forefoot.
The final note about the upper is the cup on the back of the shoe. I appreciate that the shoe needed stiffness around the heel cup, but the bulky solution that Under Armour has chosen is a bit fashion over function.
It might have been associated with the lacing issue I experienced, but the shoe never felt secure. And with the lacing system, there was no way to lace the shoes differently to secure the heel.
The Midsole of the Phantom SE is lightweight and really flexible in the forefoot. This is something I look for in a running shoe. My forefoot strike needs the shoe to bend where I want it, rather than where the manufacturer wants it to.
The midsole has cutaways which expose a softer foam and underneath it houses the sensor for tracking your runs.
It felt under-cushioned in the forefoot, which was enhanced by the lacing issue. I felt that the areas that had been cut away would have been better used for more of the harder foam and less of the softer.
If I forced myself to heel strike, I could notice the cutaway for the sensor, and it felt like a shoe that you had run 250 miles in rather than 30 miles.
The Phantom SE outsole is of a one type rubber and has a bobble type grip. This was a new type of grip for me, and I was interested to see how it worked.
The grip from the shoe was good in dry conditions. Turning during shuttle runs and on winding paths was no issue.
However, during wet conditions, there was a big difference, and grip was greatly reduced. This got to a point where I didn’t have the confidence in sharp turns and take them at full speed.
Wear on the sole was as expected for any shoes that I run in. I wear the forefoot out before any other part of the shoe. So, there were no differences to what I would expect after 50-60 miles in the shoe.
Sensor & App
As runner these days, we seem to love any data that we can get about our runs. Garmin, Polar, and Strava seem to dominate the market. So, I guess that Under Armour wanted to enhance their “Map My Run” app?
The enhancement comes in the form of a sensor that connects to the app. This all seemed very similar to the Nike+ app from about 2010. This took similar data and added it to your run data.
I tend to use Garmin for my run data, and I was interested to see how the two apps would match up. Downloading the app and tapping your foot to connect the sensor was easy and stress-free, once the sensor woke up.
On the first run, I had both my Garmin and the “Map My Run” app running, so that I could compare the data. What I found was that the data from both apps were similar, though you are missing the heart rate data and stride length data from the shoe was quite inaccurate.
One issue I found, if your smartwatch were connected to the phone during your run, that “Map My Run” would notify you that it was running. This happened about every 15 seconds.
So, you can imagine that this can get quite annoying. I had to disconnect the watch Bluetooth to prevent this from happening.
The technology in the shoe felt a bit dated. Nike has been there and done this and eventually faded it out. With the Under Armour technology, you also need to carry your phone with you if you want to map your run as well.
This for many is an issue, and personally, I run without my phone at all times unless I am out on the trails.
I am not certain of the market for the Phantom SE. I don’t think that with this shoe, they are going to pull people away from the big running brands.
The design of the shoe and the dated sensor system won’t drag people over, and they will need to produce better than this to convince a star runner to endorse this shoe.
I understand that Under Armour is a big player in the athletic-fashion market, and I think that is where this shoe firmly sits. So, as a gym shoe or indoor training shoe, it could be perfect for you.
It will also be fine for your park run or run around the block. But when you want to get serious and look after your feet for those longer runs, you will need to look elsewhere.
A good effort from Under Armour and it is early days for them. But if they want to get serious about running, they need to concentrate on the function and don’t let the fashion be the emphasis.
Am I glad that I tried these?
Yes, it was interesting to see how a different brand was approaching the market
Would I buy them?
I’m afraid not.
Is it worth changing brands?
I don’t think that these shoes are going to worry the big running brands. I wouldn’t be looking to change to Under Armour yet.
It was a lovely surprise to open the box to the unusual design of the hologram on the back of the shoe. The appearance of the shoe really did have the ‘wow’ factor.
Unfortunately, that’s as far as my love went for this running shoe (I will explain more later). Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t HATE this shoe, but it certainly isn’t a shoe I would choose to run in.
Except, this time, they have introduced a sports version (‘SE’ meaning Sports Edition). The ideology of this shoe is to provide an improved fit around the foot for sports performance.
This particular trainer is marketed with the in-shoe technology that links up with the ‘Under Armour ‘Map my Run’ app. This is achieved by a Bluetooth capable pod on the outsole of the trainer.
It lets a smartphone record and track information about your run. A disadvantage of this though is that you need to take your phone running with you. Not everyone likes to do this.
Also, most people are using Strava and Connect nowadays, but I guess this is a feature that Under Armour, which will gain more customers with something different.
Or is it? To me, I feel like Under Armor have ‘come late to the party’ as Nike did this years ago, and it didn’t work out. Also, I don’t like to carry my phone with me whilst running as I have a Garmin, which tracks my GPS and plays music.
I am a forefoot runner and not sure whether these trainers worked for me for running for that reason. I believe the magic came from the back of this trainer.
Black isn’t usually a colour I would choose for a running shoe, and upon first look, I thought it looked more like a fashion trainer than one I would pound the street in.
However, I was delighted when I opened the box as they were attractive and eye-catching. Whilst wearing this shoe at run club, I received lots of compliments about the shoe.
Some fellow runners even asked if they were light-up trainers. So, the reflective detail was great for evening running. It does, however, make the shoe look quite chunky.
The shoe has a heel drop of 8mm and weighs in at 290 grams. The insole is supple and soft—it feels like a trainer sock. The inside of the shoe features a sock liner, so you don’t necessarily need to wear socks whilst wearing this trainer.
The outsole is made out of rubber with the heel area made out of carbon rubber. The forefoot is made with blown rubber to provide a springy toe-off.
I found that the arch moulded to my foot. However, I would recommend this shoe for completely flat ground. I did find that my foot felt every stone or uneven piece of road, which was uncomfortable and almost painful.
I did find this shoe really slippery, and they were an absolute no go when raining—to the point where I had to change the way I ran to ensure I didn’t trip over.
The HOVR technology, found in several models of the American brand, is lightweight foam designed from olefin, which is a synthetic fibre with a texture similar to wax. Also, a compressed mesh (Energy Web) encapsulates this HOVR foam.
It has made the shoe lightweight and flexible on the forefoot. I did feel like there wasn’t much energy return on the shoe, despite its claims. I felt like the majority of the padding was in the heel.
I didn’t feel like the material was very sturdy, and therefore my foot moved a lot if I changed direction. I did like the stretchy feel to it but found that after 50 miles, my foot just moved around too much.
I really liked the design, but in comparison to my other running branded trainers, I wouldn’t swap. I feel like the sensor is dated and has already been done with Nike.
I think if you are looking for a gym trainer or a fashion comfortable shoe, then this would be perfect for you. I didn’t run any further than three miles at a time in these shoes as I didn’t feel like there were enough support and padding for my feet.
I think if I had run for more than three miles in this shoe, then my feet would have been battered. I feel like Under Armour have been more concerned about how the trainer looks rather than the actual function.
The shoe looks great, but would I buy this shoe as a running shoe? No. It was a real effort trying to get the shoe on your foot.
The external heel counter is a large, hard piece of plastic that resists your efforts at every turn. To be honest, this is all just way too much effort for a running shoe.
- Loved the look
- Really soft and comfortable if walking
- Good ventilation for the foot
- Tricky to put on as the back of the shoe tucked behind the hologram on occasions
- Foot moved about when changing direction
- Lack of support
- The wrestling match of getting these shoes on!
- Map my run? Is anyone still using this app?
Good to know
- In just a year after the original HOVR Phantom was released, Under Armour decides to introduce a leveled-up version of the shoe, in the form of the HOVR Phantom SE. The HOVR Phantom SE, with SE standing for “Sports Edition,” boasts of improved breathability for comfort during physically-demanding activities. The shoe also features a more anatomically-correct structure compared to its base shoe, which means there is an improved fit around the foot, resulting in a better performance during speed and endurance runs.
- As relayed by Under Armour during its release, the HOVR Phantom SE is a connected shoe. This means the shoe includes a Bluetooth-capable pod that lets a smartphone record and track information related to running while wearing it.
- With regard to the running shoe’s structure, most of its components are similar to the original version of the HOVR Phantom. These details include an engineered mesh, a SpeedForm 2.0 sockliner, and the HOVR midsole foam, all of which work together to provide a fine-tuned performance, topped with personalized coaching and holistic data analysis regarding these runs.
The Under Armour HOVR Phantom SE is true-to-size, based on the information presented in the brand’s website. However, a good majority of users have mentioned otherwise, claiming that the sizing tends to be smaller than the standard running shoe. It is best to fit the HOVR Phantom SE in store to ensure an accurate fit. The shoe features narrow structures in the midfoot and heel, which proves to be ideal for runners with low-volume feet. The Under Armour HOVR Phantom SE is available in Medium width for both the men’s and women’s versions.
Unlike the outsoles of other HOVR models of Under Armour running shoes, the HOVR Phantom SE has a unique design that uses a full coverage of rubber. The carbon rubber in the heel area is well-known for its durable quality, which guarantees a problem-free ride, as it effortlessly handles even the most rugged of road surfaces. The toughness of carbon rubber allows the runner to produce smoother strides that, in turn, aid in a better transition phase. Meanwhile, the forefoot area is made with blown rubber, a material that promotes springy toe-offs, courtesy of its lightweight characteristic.
The outsole’s tread pattern is composed of horizontal flex grooves on the medial and lateral sides, which contribute to more natural mobility. Then, the midfoot area is designed with knobs that help with ground feel and traction. Lastly, the forefoot and heel areas are small indents that work with shock absorption and impact distribution.
Under Armour’s HOVR technology provides the runner with a “zero-gravity feel.” This concept works by maintaining the level of energy return, resulting in minimum impact with each step and reduced foot fatigue overall.
The HOVR foam is covered by a compressed mesh called EnergyWeb. Being wrapped around the core component, the EnergyWeb gives the midsole an elevated level of responsiveness and energy return. This quality helps runners during endurance activities. The HOVR foam is especially-designed in this shoe to cater to neutral pronators.
Another notable feature of the HOVR Phantom SE’s midsole is the Record Sensor. This small-but-significant detail allows the running shoe to digitally sync to a smartphone app through a Bluetooth connection. With Record Sensor, the users running details—such as speed, pace, and steps—are tracked and analyzed to generate a coaching plan that is beneficial to improving performance and overall physical health.
A built-in sockliner, called Speedform 2.0, is present in the shoe. This is an ultra-breathable material that is built with gender-specific contours, which means it is higher for the female version to allow a better fit around the collar. The Speedform 2.0 supplies an extra level of protection and support to the underfoot. Another running shoe that features gender-specific features is the Altra Olympus 3; this one has an overall structure that caters to female runners.
The top of the sockliner is a footpad that is similar to the texture of chamois. This material effortlessly cradles the foot for an even more comfortable cushioning.
The upper of the HOVR Phantom SE is built using a warp-knit upper that presents a stretchable quality. Warp knitting gives the shoe more durability compared to other types of knitted materials, but because it is stretchy, it remains to be comfortable and also provides a customized, sock-like fit. This component is one of the most significant features of the shoe that gives it the “SE” distinction, as it makes the HOVR Phantom SE sleeker and more aerodynamic compared to its original version.
At the midfoot area is a 3D-molded midfoot panel made with synthetic material for a supportive and secure fit. It also employs laser perforations to maintain airflow and breathability.
Another support structure is the external heel counter found in the rearfoot area, also made with the same material as the midfoot panel. This detail gives the heel a locked-down fit and encourages the most efficient foot strike.
The running shoe’s padded ankle collar is more anatomically-shaped; it allows for easy and comfortable entry. The design includes perforations to create a cleatie-like hold over the midfoot.
How HOVR Phantom SE compares
1 shoes (0.1% of shoes)
7 shoes (0.72% of shoes)
17 shoes (2% of shoes)
23 shoes (2% of shoes)
73 shoes (8% of shoes)
116 shoes (12% of shoes)
253 shoes (26% of shoes)
248 shoes (26% of shoes)
196 shoes (20% of shoes)
33 shoes (3% of shoes)
75 shoes (8% of shoes)
218 shoes (23% of shoes)
182 shoes (19% of shoes)
259 shoes (27% of shoes)
129 shoes (13% of shoes)
55 shoes (6% of shoes)
34 shoes (4% of shoes)
4 shoes (0.41% of shoes)
8 shoes (0.83% of shoes)
3 shoes (0.31% of shoes)
3 shoes (0.37% of shoes)
10 shoes (1% of shoes)
34 shoes (4% of shoes)
90 shoes (11% of shoes)
200 shoes (24% of shoes)
231 shoes (28% of shoes)
169 shoes (21% of shoes)
57 shoes (7% of shoes)
23 shoes (3% of shoes)
4 shoes (0.49% of shoes)