Home Tech Beats Solo 4 review: Apple headphones get an Android-compatible update

Beats Solo 4 review: Apple headphones get an Android-compatible update

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Beats Solo 4 review: Apple headphones get an Android-compatible update

The Solo 4 headphones are a revamp of the fan favorite that helped make Beats a household name, updated with longer battery life, better sound, and modern features for Apple and Android.

The original Solo HD was released in 2009 and was last updated as the Solo 3 in 2016 after Apple’s purchase of Beats. Now in their fourth generation, the Solo are the company’s smallest and lightest headphones, costing £200 (€230 / $200 / A$330) and sitting under the £350 Studio Pro.

The design essentially remains the same, but has been updated with premium materials and color options. At a time when rivals have moved away from the form, the Beats remain over-ear headphones placed above the ears rather than around them.

A slight reduction in clamping force on the side of the head and some soft padding make the headphones more comfortable than their predecessors, but like all over-ear designs, they hurt after a while. The headphones fold up for travel and come with a good, compact case.

The ‘b’ logo and volume buttons on the surrounding ring are easy to use with a satisfying click when pressed. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The left earcup has the Beats button that handles playback controls and a volume rocker. A tiny, easy-to-miss white LED displays power and connectivity status alongside a 3.5mm headphone jack for the detachable cable, a rarity for wireless headphones these days.

The right cup has the power button and a USB-C jack for charging the headphones, which can also be used for wired listening and making calls with USB-equipped devices. The battery lasts up to 50 hours of Bluetooth playback. The headphones can be used without a battery with the included 3.5mm analog cable.


  • Weight: 217g

  • Dimensions: 177x158x68mm

  • Drivers: 40mm

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3, 3.5mm, audio and USB-C charging

  • Bluetooth codecs: SBC, CAA

  • Battery duration: 50 hours

Advanced system features for Android and iPhone

The Solo 4 integrates into the system settings of Apple devices and has most of the same features on Android as well. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Like the recent Studio Buds+, the big advantage of the Beats is their broad cross-compatibility with Android and iOS.

They have greater integration with an iPhone than their competitors, including hands-free Siri, access to controls through quick settings, and instant pairing.

For Apple products, you only need to pair them with one device to use them on your iPhones, iPads, Macs, and other computers. You can also share audio by using two sets of headphones with one device and the company’s custom spatial audio technology with head tracking for surround sound.

For Android or Google devices, they also support many of the same features, including instant pairing, syncing, and switching between Google devices. The Beats app for Android offers controls, battery widgets, settings, and other features.

Finally, the headphones integrate with Apple and Google’s Find My systems, so you can locate them if you misplace them, regardless of the platform.

Cleaner rhythm sound

The plush ear cushions create a fairly tight seal in the ear, which helps boost the bass. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Beats sound quality has improved dramatically in recent years and the Solo 4 is no exception. They produce a clean, clear sound with good pitch separation that’s easy to listen to across genres, but they require a bit of volume to sound their best.

They emphasize treble, which accentuates vocals, and lack the rich bass of their predecessors, producing a flatter response with bass only when necessary. Those looking for big, boomy bass may want to look elsewhere.

They lack noise cancellation and have relatively poor passive isolation, so they’re not the best choice for quiet listening. Call quality is excellent in quiet or noisy environments, transmitting clearly with a relatively natural sound and preventing background noise from infiltrating the recipient’s call.


Apple does not provide an expected lifespan for the batteries, but typical lithium batteries last more than 500 full charge cycles with at least 80% of their original capacity.

apple will do it replace the battery out of warranty for £95. The headphones are made from recycled plastic, but Apple does not publish environmental impact reports for accessories like the headphones. The company offers free exchange and recycling programs, even for non-Apple products.


Beats Solo 4 cost €199.95 (€229.95/$199.99/AU$329.95).

For comparison, the Beats Studio Pro costs £350the cost of the Sony ULT Wear £150 and the Marshall Major V costs £130.


The Beats Solo 4 are a great update to a popular pair of headphones. Not much has changed on the design front, with only minor improvements here and there, but the improvements to sound and features are very welcome.

Full cross-platform support on Android and iPhone is a great feature if you live in both camps. USB-C charging and audio, plus the 3.5mm headphone jack, are welcome. The fit is quite comfortable, but like all over-ear headphones, they can become fatiguing during long listening sessions.

The improved, less bass-dominated sound is an improvement for everyone except those looking for big, punchy bass. The lack of noise cancellation and smaller features, such as wear sensors to pause music when removed, make them less attractive than their similarly priced rivals.

You’re certainly paying for the brand, but the Beats Solo 4 are a solid entry that will no doubt prove as popular as their trend-setting predecessors, particularly given the dwindling competition for in-ear shape.

Advantages: good sound, cross-platform compatibility with improved features for iPhone and Android, spatial audio with head tracking, can use USB-C or 3.5mm cable, as well as Bluetooth, long battery life, good button controls, recycled materials .

Cons: expensive, doesn’t pause music when removed, doesn’t cancel noise, design hasn’t changed significantly in years, doesn’t support higher quality Bluetooth audio formats.

You can use USB-C or the 3.5mm headphone jack for wireless listening. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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