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Beats Solo Buds Review: Perfect Headphones in Only 2 Situations

nextpit Beats Solo Buds Test
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Apple has just launched its first pair of affordable true wireless earbuds. No, I'm not referring to the AirPods but the Beats Solo Buds. These earbuds from Beats, an Apple subsidiary, costs $79.99 a pop. They have no Active Noise Cancellation, lack spatial audio, do not feature a case that charges the Beats Solo Buds, miss out on wireless charging, does not feature any IP certification...Beats offers the bare minimum here (or perhaps less than what is expected!), but the earbuds meet two very specific needs to perfection: a compact form factor and compatibility with both Android and iOS platforms. I'll tell you more in this in-depth Beats Solo Buds review.

Beats Solo Buds


  • Amazing battery life
  • Intuitive pairing with Android and iOS devices
  • Multipoint Connectivity with Android and iOS devices
  • Ultra-compact case


  • Poor audio quality
  • Case has no battery
  • Charges via USB-C but cable is not included
  • No Active Noise Cancellation
  • No head tracking for spatial audio
  • No equalizer
  • No wireless charging supported
  • No wear detection
Beats Solo Buds
Beats Solo Buds
Beats Solo Buds: All deals

The Beats Solo Buds in a nutshell

Beats Solo Buds are wireless in-ear headphones. They were released this month for $79.99 a pop. A little bit of history: Beats was acquired by Apple in 2014, and has since been an Apple subsidiary with selected Beats products featuring Apple technologies within.

You can purchase the Beats Solo Buds directly from the Beats store or the Apple store. Of course, they're also sold at major e-tailers like Amazon.


The Beats Solo Buds are no more compact than other true wireless earbuds, but it's their case that makes all the difference, saving both weight and space.


  • Super-compact case.
  • Very discreet when worn.
  • Excellent fit when worn.


  • No IP rating for water and dust resistance.
  • Rather uncomfortable to wear over a long period.
  • Physical buttons are too difficult to operate.

Having physical buttons on the Beats Solo Buds might be a good thing, if only they're more responsive.
The physical buttons on the Beats Solo Buds have quite a bit of resistance, forcing you to press quite hard to operate them. This pushes the earbuds further into your ears. / © nextpit

This is one of the only two strong points of the Beats Solo Buds: their case is really small. The earbuds themselves are no smaller than what other models offer in a similar format.

It actually is the case, stripped of almost all the classic features, that makes the difference. Of course, it doesn't include a battery. You have to place the earbuds inside for a recharge. This requires you to connect the case via USB-C to juice up the earbuds.

Sadly, the USB-C cable isn't included. I know, I know. Believe me, I screamed as I smashed my forehead on my sit-stand desk for a good fifteen minutes after finding that out. Admittedly, the Beats Solo Buds make up for this with their amazing battery life, but more about that later.

The fact remains this case is one of the smallest on the market. It fits nicely just about everywhere, tipping the scales at a mere 20 g. Even though it's made of rather cheap-looking plastic, the finish is still decent. In fact, I was quite taken in by the transparent look.

You get a good quality finish for the compact case.
The Beats Solo Buds case is one of the most compact on the market with a good quality finish. / © nextpit

As for the earbuds themselves, they're normal-sized. In fact, they weigh just over 5 g, which is well within the upper mid-range market segment.

Above all, I didn't find them to be very comfortable. Even as in-ear monitors, I found them particularly intrusive in the ear canal. Their physical buttons are also rather hard to press due to the relatively high resistance. As a result, you have to press pretty hard to operate them, which pushes the earbuds into your ear canal even further.

This design choice has the merit of offering a good fit. The Beats Solo Buds don't move no matter how much you shake your head. But it's downright uncomfortable when worn for a longer period. The absence of any waterproof certification also makes it difficult to envisage wearing them for sports.

Look cool with the Beats Solo Buds' transparent case.
The transparent case of the Beats Solo Buds is visually cool. / © nextpit

Audio quality

The Beats Solo Buds may be part of Apple's catalog, but they don't benefit from any of Apple's audio technology, unlike other Beats headphone models. That's a shame. The audio quality also turned out to be pretty unremarkable.


  • No excessive bass, rather, it lacks bass.
  • Quality is OK for most people and music genres.


  • Rather thin sound that lacks detail.
  • SBC/AAC codecs only.
  • No equalizer.

You can't get any more spartan than with the Beats Solo Buds!
The Beats Solo Buds don't have a lot of features, really! / © nextpit

Apple's audio products have never pretended to target audiophiles and neither has Beats. The brand has, however, come a long way from its early days. The stigma that Beats headphones have a muddled sound drowned out by excessive bass is a thing of the past, there's no denying that.

However, the manufacturer has gone too far with the Beats Solo Buds. Hence, the Beats Solo Buds are not too bassy. Far from it at all since good bass requires two things: depth and impact, of which the Beats Solo Buds do not have.

Depth is the ability of the earbuds to go very low, reproducing very low frequencies in the bass. Beats does not indicate the frequency range of its earbuds. Manufacturers generally settle for the classic 20-20,000 Hz range. Low-frequency earbuds provide more volume or amplitude at the lower end of this frequency range, which is not the case here.

Both ANC or spatial audio are missing on the Beats Solo Buds.
Beats Solo Buds don't offer ANC or spatial audio. / © nextpit

Impact refers to bass responsiveness. While bass doesn't have to be super-deep to have a good impact, it has to have that percussive, punchy feel, with a sound that follows quickly without "dragging" or spilling over into other frequencies. Basically, the bass must stand out from everything else without drowning out anything.

Here, the bass of the Beats Solo Buds is neither deep nor impactful. The sound is round and a little soft. As for the mids and highs, I have nothing to say except for a rather thin sound. A thin sound lacks substance. Matter is a bit like the level of detail in a photo. The more substance a sound has, the richer its components are in detail and nuance. Think of it as texture. A thin sound, like what the Beats Solo Buds offers, is pretty flat or hollow.

I do think I'm getting a little carried away here. The Beats Solo Buds don't pretend to target audiophiles and I certainly don't claim to be an audiophile. If you were to stream MP3s most of the time like I do, the audio quality of these Beats headphones is bang average. There is nothing transcendent about it, and neither is there anything really good. Just plain okay!

Comfort is not a calling card of the Beats Solo Buds.
Beats Solo Buds are quite intrusive in the ear canal. They're not very comfortable to wear. / © nextpit

Features and app

Talk about having the bare minimum or even less! That's what the Beats Solo Buds offer, despite their $80 price tag. The main advantage is intuitive pairing, whether with Apple or Android devices. And that's about it, frankly.


  • Fast, multi-point pairing for both Apple and Android devices.


  • No Active Noise Cancellation.
  • No equalizer.
  • No wear detection.

Use the official Beats app if you're rocking to an Android device.
Beats Solo Buds are app-free on iPhone. On Android, you need to use the official Beats app. / © nextpit

The second strong point of Beats Solo Buds is that they interact intuitively with both Apple and Android ecosystems. On Android, pairing is super-easy with Google's Fast Pair. There's also multipoint Bluetooth for connecting the earbuds to two devices simultaneously.

On an Apple device, pairing is similarly performed with the AirPods, with "one-touch pairing". Here too, you can juggle between different Apple devices. Basically, the actions are almost identical, whether you're using an Apple or Android device. That's an undeniable quality of these earbuds.

The earbuds come equipped with physical buttons to help you control track playback and volume. The essentials are there, and there are even a few customization options.

  Playback controls Call controls
Single press Play/ Pause Pick up
Double press Next track Hang up
Triple press Previous track -
Long press Volume up/down Siri

On the Beats Solo Buds box, it is mentioned they support Spatial Audio. Unfortunately, the earbuds lack any head-tracking function. You will have to make do with Dolby Atmos tracks on Apple Music.

The absence of Active Noise Cancellation didn't really bother me. The Beats earbuds offer very good passive isolation. I particularly regret the absence of Apple's Adaptive EQ function and the absence of an equalizer in the Android application.

The Beats Solo Buds are compatible with Apple's Find My and Google's Find My Device functions, letting you locate your earbuds if they are lost. On Apple, Find My worked without a hitch. On Android, Find My Device didn't work, but that's Google's fault, not Beats'.

Battery life and charging

This is the strangest and most interesting thing about the Beats Solo Buds. The earbuds have an insane battery life of 18 hours. That's three to four times longer than the vast majority of wireless earbuds on the market, albeit lacking a battery in the case.


  • 18 hours of listening on a single charge!
  • Fully charged in 1h 20m.


  • The case has no battery, so charging must be performed by wire via USB-C.
  • No wireless charging supported.
  • The indispensable USB-C cable is not included!

Always place the Beats Solo Buds in the case before pairing.
The Beats Solo Buds must be replaced in the case to re-pair. / © nextpit

This is clearly a counter-intuitive design choice on the part of Beats, and by extension, Apple. Any other manufacturer would have been lynched for it. Honestly, my first instinct too was to get out my pitchfork and howl at the scandal.

When you think about it, it's not entirely pointless. Personally, I primarily use the headsets and earbuds I review at work. Whether I'm telecommuting or am at the office, I like to have some background noise while I work.

With conventional earbuds, battery life averages from 4 to 6 hours on a single charge at most. Very often, I run out of battery before the end of the day, so I have to recharge my earbuds which happens very slowly. It takes between 1h 30m to 3 hours on average for a full charge.

So the idea of having earbuds that can last 18 hours straight isn't so absurd. But that's just my experience and I cannot say the same for everyone else. Above all, the 18 hours of non-stop use obtained with the Beats Solo Buds is far less than the 24 to 30 hours accumulated with several charges via the case of other models.

A full charge of the Beats Solo Buds takes just 1h 20m. If your smartphone, Android or iPhone, offers reverse wired charging, you can connect the Beats box directly via USB-C.

I'm sure I'd have left it at that if Beats had had the decency to include a USB-C cable with its earbuds. This omission by the manufacturer proved to be really petty.

Technical specifications

  Technical specifications
Image Beats Solo Buds
  • Format: Intra | No wear detection | Physical controls
  • Weight per earphone: 5.7 g | Case weight: 22 g
  • Case dimensions: 34.7 x 66.1 x 23.7 mm
IP rating
  • None
  • 8.2 mm driver | No spatial audio
Frequency response
  • Not specified
  • No
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • SBC and AAC codecs
Multipoint Bluetooth
  • Yes (Apple and Android)
Battery life
  • 18h listening time
  • 5-minute recharge = 1h listening time
  • Full recharge: 1h20
Battery life with case
  • No battery in case
Wireless charging No


Would I recommend you buy the Beats Solo Buds for $79.99? No.

The Nothing Ear (a) (review) is a much better alternative, there's no question about that. That's just pure supposition. In my opinion, the Beats Solo Buds are Apple's attempt to test the waters, to figure out the market. That's you and me!

How many technical compromises are we prepared to tolerate to pay less for our Beats products, and by extension, Apple? As we've seen with the iPhone SE range, the tolerance threshold can be very low.

I've really tried hard not to fall into an entirely primitive anti-Apple logic. The choice of sacrificing battery life while maximizing the endurance of the earbuds themselves is an interesting one.

The absence of Active Noise Cancellation didn't bother me, as the passive isolation of the Beats Solo Buds was excellent. The intuitiveness of pairing on both Android and iOS was also very nice. This is especially noticeable as no other manufacturer can currently claim to do the same.

The audio quality, while very basic, isn't bad. It's more than good enough for most uses. The real problem is that the compromises Beats imposes to arrive at this price of $79.99 are far too drastic. The Beats Solo Buds shouldn't cost more than $59.99, in my opinion.

  Editor's choice Alternative choice Apple choice ANC champion Best option for sports Best choice under $150 Best choice under $120
Image Jabra Elite 10 Product Image Sony WF-1000XM5 Product Image Apple AirPods Pro 2 Product Image Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds Product Image Jabra Elite 8 Active Product Image Nothing ear (2) Product Image Jabra Elite 4 Product Image
Price (MSRP)
  • $249.99
  • $299
  • $249
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  • $199
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  • $119.99
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Antoine Engels

Antoine Engels
Senior Editor

Black belt in specs sheet analysis. OnePlus fanboy in (slow) remission. Average estimated reading time of my articles: 48 minutes. Tech deals fact-checker in my spare time. Hates talking about himself in the 3rd person. Dreams he was a gaming journalist in another life. Doesn't get the concept of irony. Head of editorial for NextPit France.

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