Beats Solo 4
Beats Solo 4

Beats Solo 4 headphones review: Better than ever

Beats Solo 4 boasts improved sound, a massive battery life boost, and big connectivity improvements

Beats Solo 4
Beats Solo4 review
Bottom Line
The Beats Solo 4s offer a number of impressive features, including seamless integration with both iOS and Android ecosystems, improved connectivity, aesthetics, a whopping 50-hour battery life, spatial audio, and even lossless USB-C audio. While they may lack a few expected features, such as active noise cancellation, the Solo 4 wireless headphones still represent a welcomed improvement over previous models.
Pros
Long 50 hour battery
Refined appearance with iconic collapsible design
Sturdy fit
Great microphone quality
Spatial Audio (iOS)
Lossless audio with USB-C
Wired playback options
No battery required to listen with cable
Above average integration with iOS and Android
Find My Device support
Cons
Clamping pressure can hurt within an hour of wear
No auto play/pause
No personalization like audio presets or tuning
Lacks multipoint bluetooth connectivity
4.1

After years of waiting, the ever-popular Beats Solo 3 wireless headphones finally have a successor! The all-new Beats Solo 4 boasts improved sound, a massive battery life boost, major connectivity improvements, and more.

These on-ear headphones feature immersive Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos on iOS devices, Lossless Audio via USB-C, and even a nice ecosystem integration with iOS and Apple. They maintain the iconic collapsible Beats design, and while they don’t offer active noise cancellation, they still pack a punch with good passive noise isolation.

Design

Building on the iconic design of its predecessor, the Beats Solo 4 offers a sleeker, more sophisticated look with its tonal pastel colors. Taking a design cue from the Beats Studio Pro, the Solo 4 features a streamlined silhouette that’s completely decked out in elegant slate blue, cloud pink, or matte black. We dig the uniform aesthetic and imagine there will be a wider color range in the future.

Opting for the classic on-ear design, Beats Solo 4 offers a comfortable alternative for those who prefer a lighter fit compared to over-ear headphones. The “UltraPlush” oval-shaped cushions, generously sized for most ears, are angled at 12 degrees for a more natural fit.

While the ear cups pivot slightly for adjustment, the initial clamping force might feel snug, especially for extended listening sessions exceeding an hour. We’re expecting this tightness to ease with break-in, and find them ideal for workouts and active use. The underside of the headband features a grippy rubber cushion to prevent slipping during movement. The shell is still entirely plastic but feels fairly durable and resilient. The collapsibility and included travel case should easily withstand everyday wear and tear. As of the release, there’s no published IP rating for water resistance.

It’s worth shouting out Apple for eco-friendly 100% “fiber-based” packaging, which reminded us of our last few premium Sony headphone unboxings.

Controls

Beats Solo 4 kept things basic with controls — and there are not many automatic features. There’s a small press-and-hold on/off button. The “b” logo on the left earcup is the play/pause/assistant button and there are hidden hard buttons above and below that for volume. Sadly, there’s no auto-off when collapsing the headphones, there’s no autoplay when putting the headphones on, and there’s limited customization for button functions.

Having identical controls on both earcups would have been a welcome addition. We’re happy the controls are easy-to-use and intuitive but we are used to the added comfort features at this price range. On the bright side, there’s hands-free access to “Hey Siri” available for iOS users.

Connectivity

Apple makes up for simple controls with top-tier connectivity. There’s both Bluetooth 5.3 and Class 1 Bluetooth built-in. Solo 4 offers quick pairing, Find My headphones, and “ecosystem pairing” on both Android and iOS.

For ports, they have a standard 3.5mm audio port and USB-C port. Both cables are included, and both can be used to play audio. With the standard AUX cable you can listen to music from pretty much any device, and it even works without any battery on the Beats.

With the USB-C cable you can listen to lossless audio, which is a fantastic feature if your player supports it. USB-C playback works on iOS, Android, and probably even your computer. You can charge your headphones and listen at the same time. We did notice some cord noise when using USB-C.

The ecosystem pairing is really nice. After I paired it to my iPhone, I could instantly connect on my MacBook or iPad. Android offers this too. There’s an “audio switch” feature to switch playback between Androids, but there’s no standard multi-point connection where you connect two playback devices at the same time.

You can’t have audio seamlessly switching between your phone and laptop. You can, however, do the opposite on iOS and share your music with multiple supported Beats or Apple headphones simultaneously.

Battery

The battery life is an impressive 50 hours, which is an improvement from the predecessor’s 40 hours. It now charges with USB-C and you can get 5 hours of battery from a quick 10 minute “Fast Fuel” charge. We were happy to see that you don’t need a charge to listen to these headphones using a cable.

Sound

The Beats Solo 4 delivers a well-balanced sound profile, ideal for a wide range of genres. Most will find the sound quality very enjoyable — there’s good bass, clarity, and detail. They may not set any records for audio quality, and don’t compare to the fullness and oomph that the Studio Pros provide, but they compete well in their price range.

The one big catch is that there’s no custom equalizer or audio presets, which is common for most headphones and ideal for finding the perfect sound. The only tuning option is the ability to turn on Spatial Audio on iOS. We mostly like Spatial Audio — it’s fun to try it with different types of audio and in different situations or moods.

Spatial Audio on Solo 4 sounds a little more open and 3-dimensional, and less like you have two speakers pressed against your ear. The spatial illusion is not as good as it is on the Beats Studio Pros, but it still offers a welcome alternative experience.

The upgraded beam-forming microphones are just about as good as they get for Bluetooth headphones. The microphone quality is loud, mostly clear and natural sounding, and there’s reduced background noise. The mics sounded as good and sometimes better than the Beats Studio Pros in our test.

Final thoughts

The Beats Solo 4 are a welcome improvement over the popular Solo 3s, especially when it comes to battery and connectivity. That said, we would have liked to see more comfort features like personalization, custom audio tuning, and auto play/pause. They’re not noise cancelling, but the tight fit provides good-enough noise isolation for most situations.

As expected, the Beats Solo 4s are perfectly integrated into iOS in a way that average Bluetooth headphones aren’t, and we were delighted to see the Android integration with most of the same features. There’s no Spatial Audio on Android, but there is lossless playback over USB-C.

All-in-all, Beats Solo 4 are great on-ear headphones for $199.99 if you like a tight fit and don’t care much about active noise cancellation. The Beats Solo 4s are currently available from Apple.com.

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