Beats’ Solo3 Wireless on-ear Bluetooth headphone ($300/£250/AU$400) looks practically identical to the Beats Solo 2 Wireless because — externally at least — Beats hasn’t updated its design. The big change is inside: The Solo3 uses Apple’s new W1 custom Bluetooth chip, which increases battery life drastically and makes pairing the headphone with Apple devices dead simple.
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The headphone works just fine with Android and other Bluetooth-enabled devices and the battery life rating may be the same for iOS and Android — an impressive 40 hours. That is clearly a huge jump over the 12 hours that the Beats Solo2 Wireless ($140 at Amazon) is rated at which gets the best battery life of any Bluetooth headphone I’ve tested up to now (I used it for weekly without recharging). In addition, it features Beats’ Fast Fuel feature, gives you 3 hours of battery life from a 5-minute charge.
The Solo3 Wireless in silver.
However, unlike the brand new BeatsX, which runs on the Lightning cable for charging, this model sticks with a Micro-USB charging cable.
On the plus side, my wireless connection using the headphone was rock-solid and the W1 chip helps it be simple to switch between Apple devices you’ve paired the headphones to. Overall, the headphone performs perfectly, and I’ve always liked its compact size and how it folds up to match right into a relatively small travel case (yes, that travel case is included).
For better or worse, Beats hasn’t upgraded the sound. The Solo3 Wireless sounds very best for an on-ear Bluetooth headphone and can appeal to bass lovers who prefer a sound profile that accentuates the bass but manages in order to avoid being too boomy. However, it generally does not sound quite as clean as Beats’ more balanced Studio Wireless over-ear model, which includes come down in cost and I find convenient (the Beats Solo3 Wireless ($121 at Best Buy) offers an extremely snug fit — the headphones do stay securely on your own head, whilst running — they wrap up pressing down on your own ears somewhat firmly).
That is a headphone that’s made to be worn outdoors, and the excess bass did can be found in helpful when I was walking the streets of NY and was competing with a whole lot of ambient noise, like the subway when I went underground. The headphones passively seal out adequate sound, however, many ambient noise does leak in and the excess bass doesn’t sound as accentuated outside (you truly hear it in quiet rooms, however) and the headphones results in as a bit more balanced.
Much like all stereo Bluetooth headphones, this model includes a built-in microphone to make calls, and call quality was decent, although step-up Studio Wireless comes with an advantage in this department. Some headphones in this cost range, like the Studio Wireless, feature improved communications performance and noise-canceling features that muffle ambient noise so callers can hear you better. This Beats isn’t in that class.
The controls for answering and ending calls, volume and skipping tracks forward and back are on the earcups.
Competing models include Bose’s SoundLink Wireless On-ear, Sennheiser’s Momentum 2 On-ear Wireless and Plantronic’s Backbeat Sense. Both BackBeat Sense ($124 at Walmart) and the Bose are convenient headphones, applying just a little less pressure to your ears, and the Plantronics is evidently the very best value at about $125.
In its favor, the Solo3 Wireless has that iconic Beats design, and the headphone does can be found in several attractive finishes. (Personally, i just like the matte black and the silver featured inside our photos.)
Ultimately, Beats’ value proposition is that it is taken the same headphone that so many persons know and love and improved its battery life considerably and made it quite simple for Apple users to hook up with their phones and other Apple devices.
That’s fine, nonetheless it could have been nice if Beats had brought the purchase price down as well, taking into consideration the headphone’s design and sound was not upgraded. Since it stands, this headphone is in the realm of what superior over-ear noise-canceling wireless headphones including the Bose Quiet Comfort 25 cost. Even though the Beats’ own Studio Wireless offers no more than 12 hours of battery life and is a bigger headphone, it costs around $50 less ($250) after getting started at $379.