Beats are a phenomenally popular brand that has been instrumental in changing the shape and nature of the headphone market. Having already created a strong and loyal customer base, with Apple’s takeover and involvement, their future looks very strong indeed.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless headphones are one of the first Beats products to benefit from the introduction of new technologies and expertise from Apple. Take a closer look at the Solo3, and there are clear signs of Apple’s influence and clear signs of collaboration between the two companies.
So just how good are these latest headphones and just how good is this Apple/Beats hook up?
Let’s get this Beats Solo3 Wireless Review underway and find out.
Visually there’s almost nothing to distinguish Beats Solo3 from previous models. This makes perfect sense to us. The headphones are ready sleek and well designed. It’s best to leave the design alone, and that’s exactly what Beats/Apple has done.
In line with previous models, you get a large color choice. The colorways are diverse enough that it shouldn’t be too difficult to find something that matches your style. We got to review a black pair, which we like, though by choice the Rose Gold or Silver versions look killer.
One subtle but telling difference with the latest Beats headphones is the change in color, on most models, to the logo. On older models, the Beats logo was in red and sat more prominently. Now the logo is color co-ordinated and more subdued.
We prefer this new style. It feels less in your face. Less aggressive. We think its styling is far more likely to appeal to a wider audience.
You can feel the creep of Apple design already.
The build quality is ok, but it’s nothing we can get overexcited about.
It has a simple plastic headband covered over a metal base. The inside of the headband has a rubber-coated layer to both improve your comfort and also to prevent them from slipping. In normal circumstances, this probably won’t be an issue, but if you’re using them to do something like running in the park, it’s a useful feature.
The rest of the headphones, except for the over-ear cups, are made from the same plastic as the headband. The overall look is, well, plasticky, even cheap looking. It’s a style that some people will love and others hate.
It will be interesting to see where this goes in the next generation of Beats.
One thing we do approve of is the synthetic leather covering of the ear cups. It looks like a decent quality leather substitute, and for any Vegans, we’re sure they’ll be grateful.
Our only concern with the material is that all leather substitutes have a tendency to peel over time. If you are using these regularly, especially if you’re using them to exercise and get sweaty, there has to be a question mark about how long they will hold up.
On the plus side, though, you can easily and cheaply get replacements, so it’s not exactly a deal-breaker.
The comfort of any set of headphones will always be a personal thing.
We like the well-cushioned ear cups. They feel comfortable over your ears. However, the headphones do grip your head quite tightly. That’s great to stop them from falling off, but not so great if you want to wear a set of headphones for extended periods.
If you wear sunglasses or glasses, the Beat Solo 3 could easily become uncomfortable after a short time.
One of the cool things about these headphones is that you can use them wirelessly or wired. We love the versatility of being able to have both choices. Ideally, it’s great to be able to use them wirelessly, but sometimes this isn’t always possible.
In the real world, there’ll always be an occasion when batteries fail with no back-up insight. Or you’ll be at a friend’s house and want to listen to something on an older device with no Bluetooth. In this kind of situation, the Beats Solo3 wireless headphones are all belts and braces.
The headphones come with a USB charging cable and a nice soft carrying case.
Although the headphones fold neatly away, we’d have still preferred a hard carrying case to give the headphones some better protection; Sadly, though, you’d need to get your hand in your pocket, again, to upgrade to the Beats Studio3 Wireless phones to get a hard case.
Also see: Beats Solo Pro Review
The Beats Solo3 Wireless headphones use the excellent W1 chip from Apple. As we’ll look at later, the new chip performs brilliantly for some seamless streaming. But the fact is that Beats have an even better-performing and efficient chip, the H1, in the Pro series.
We actually think that their W1 chip all ready performs superbly. Consequently, we don’t think an upgrade to the Pro series, based on the chip alone, is warranted.
The controls on the Beat Solo3 are kept to an absolute minimum and very much echo the kind of design language you expect to see from an iPhone.
On the right earpiece, you’ll find a simple on/off button. This is hidden within the Beats logo and looks really neat. The same button can also be used to pair to your phone or electronic device.
The right-handed earpiece also has a hidden mic to use when you’re taking calls. The only other control, or rather an indicator, is the 5 LED light display to show your battery life.
There’s one large central button, again hidden with the Beats logo, that controls play and pause. Above and below the central button are volume controls. These buttons are not touch-sensitive.
We like the minimalistic nature of the controls and the fact they’ve managed to build in a high degree of intuitiveness in their operation. We also like the satisfying feeling when using the controls on the left earpiece. They’re beautifully set to require just the right amount of force to operate.
There’s nothing more frustrating than having a great pair of headphones that die on you after a short few hours. We’ve already enough going on, forever trying to keep our phones charged, without having another device to worry about.
Beats will tell you up to 40 hours. That sounds a lot, and this is where you expect us to say that in the real world, you can’t reasonably get 40 hours of listening out of one fully charged battery. But we’re not going to tell you that.
Happily, what we are going to tell you is that Beats are being straight up about their claim. Amazingly 40 hours is a realistic figure. In fact, in our testing, we got longer. That’s stunning.
This can all be credited to Apple’s W1 chip that helps give an enhanced wireless performance.
This is all good stuff, but in our opinion, even better is the quick charge capability. Using just 5 minutes of wireless charging, you can get a further 3 hours of playing time. This, to us, is equally as impressive as the 40 hours fully charged battery life.
To help you keep track of these crazy long battery charge times, there’s a battery indicator on the right cup of the headphones. These are in the form of 5 LED lights that are clear and easy to read.
Pairing with any iPhone from 7 upwards couldn’t be easier. Thanks to that clever little W1 chip your iPhone will deliver a pop-up card to prompt you to pair your device,
What we find particularly interesting here is that theory this simple pairing should only be available to iPhone 7s and above. This is because the W1 chip was first introduced with the launch of the iPhone 7. However, the reality is strangely somewhat different.
If you have an iPhone 6 you can still use this same simple pairing protocol despite the fact that the iPhone 6 doesn’t use a W1 chip. We’re not sure why this works, but it does. We’re sure they’ll be plenty of iPhone 6s users that will be happy about this.
Well, you may well be frowning at this point. If you use Android, then you’ll just have to go old school and go through your phone’s Bluetooth menu to pair up your Beats Solo3 headphones.
We’re not going to give Beats a hard time about this. We understand why the W1 chip hasn’t been designed to afford this same kind of seamless operation to Android users. This is, after all, a chip that’s been raided from Apple’s part bin.
The fact is that the W1 chip gives plenty of benefits with its excellent streaming capabilities to all cellular users. We, therefore, think that Android users will forgive it for a slightly clunky pairing experience.
There’s certainly plenty of great technology gone into these headphones. The question we now have to answer is if the sound can live up to the same level as the technology.
Beats headphones are known for their scooped-out midrange and heavy emphasis on the bass. For all the hip hops fans, and there’s a lot, plus all the music fans listening to more bass-driven genres of music, it’s a great sound. For everyone else, not so much.
The latest Beats Solo3 Wireless headphones still have a scooped out midrange though it’s less pronounced than with the Solo1 and the Solo2 models. Never the less the overemphasis of the bass still drowns out the mids and, to a lesser extent, the treble frequencies.
The detail feels missing, and things sound somewhat muddy. The drivers really struggle to separate sounds and bring an accurate representation of the music. Unlike some more audio-focused headphones that deliver precision in the middle frequencies, Beats hit you with a wall of sound.
There’s no doubt that the sound does pack a great deal of punch and can feel exciting to listen to. However, the bass is overdone, and this will remain a product aimed at consumers who are more focused on listening to more modern genres of music.
We can criticize Beats headphones endlessly for some of the obvious deficiencies in the audio quality of their headphones. But the fact is that this kind of signature sound is what a lot of modern consumers want and enjoy.
And who are we to criticize that?
Beats Solo3 Wireless Pros & Cons
- Incredible battery life.
- Fast recharging.
- Sleek design.
- Excellent Bluetooth and streaming performance.
- Intuitive and easy to use controls.
- They have a flat midrange.
Not sure if the sound of the Beats Solo3 is what you’re looking for? If so, there are numerous other excellent headphones and earphones available, check out our reviews of the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Waterproof Bluetooth Headphones, and the Most Comfortable Headphones on the market.
Beats headphones are as much about fashion as they are about music.
If you buy Beats headphones, how they look, and how you look wearing them is as important as how they sound. The design of the Beats Solo3 wireless headphones is certainly sleek and stylish enough to easily tick that particular box.
With Apple’s involvement, we think the looks have improved, and they look more modern, grown-up if you like. We think this is good news for the majority of potential customers looking for this kind of audio fashion statement.
Though the signature scooped out bass-heavy sound has been dialed back, a little, it hasn’t been significantly changed. This may be bad news for audiophiles, but it’s almost certainly good news for the majority of their existing customers.
Despite the Beats Solo3 premium price, we think this is a product that will continue to sell like hotcakes.