Beats Solo 4 Review: Minimal Features, Maximized Sound Beats Solo 4 Review: Minimal Features, Maximized Sound
There’s not much to the new Beats Solo 4 headphones at first glance. Starkly missing in this $200 package is any form of noise... Beats Solo 4 Review: Minimal Features, Maximized Sound

There’s not much to the new Beats Solo 4 headphones at first glance. Starkly missing in this $200 package is any form of noise canceling or transparency mode. There’s no auto pause feature or water-resistance rating—something you might expect from headphones shown as jogging companions in marketing videos.

Beats seems proud of the Solo 4’s stark minimalism, pointing instead to their slimline design, upgraded sound, and versatile core features. Highlights include up to 50 hours of playback per charge, the ability to plug in with either 3.5-mm or USB-C for lossless audio, and most convenient, in-house features for both Android and Apple phones like one-touch pairing and a headphones tracker.

I was admittedly dismissive of the Solo 4 for their lack of firepower at first, but over multiple days of testing, the sound kept calling me back. Their warm, clean, and buttery performance stems from a redesigned acoustic architecture that proves Apple’s sonic influence on the Beats brand runs deep. You can get a lot more tech from other options, but there’s enough here to make the Solo 4 worth considering for some—especially once the price inevitably drops.

Slick and Simple

The Solo 4’s aesthetic hasn’t strayed far from its roots. You’ll get all the trappings of a modern Beats device here, like matte plastic casing in flamboyant colors and the signature Beats logo on each earcup. The headphones fold down for travel, fitting into a nifty compact case with pockets inside for the included 3.5-mm and USB-C cables.

Blue headphones folded inward sitting on a wooden surface

Photograph: Ryan Waniata

On-ear headphones like the Solo 4 are a rarity these days, and I generally find over-ear headphones more comfortable since they press against your head, not your ears. The Solo 4’s clamping force can cause some discomfort over time, but I was able to wear them for multiple hours without major complaints, and had no trouble throwing on some sunglasses.

The firm grip keeps the headphones in place and provides some solid passive noise isolation—a good thing considering the Solo 4 eschew any form of ambient audio. It’s undeniably odd in 2024 for such sporty-looking headphones to forgo transparency mode so you can hear the world around you when working out. A good water-resistance rating, something most flagship headphones don’t offer, would have been a nice inclusion in its place.

I do like the Solo 4’s simplified control system, offering intuitive volume and playback keys centered around the left-side Beats logo. Like the Studio Pro, the plastic key feels a bit clanky, but it’s less of a concern at this price. The Solo 4’s other major omission that vexed me over multiple days is the lack of auto pause sensors or auto power-down. Once again, it’s not a huge deal given the massive 50-hour battery life, but it’s something I’d expect at this level.


That’s not to say the Solo 4 are without advanced features. They offer an intriguing double dip of tricks for both Android and Apple devices courtesy of the Beats Proprietary Platform. The system, which also drives the Studio Pro (7/10, WIRED Recommends) and many of the latest Beats earbuds, allows for convenient one-touch pairing and Find My features for either device type, while catering to each in a few key ways.

Android-friendly features include auto pairing and audio switching between Google-connected tablets and phones, as well as a Beats app for some basic customization and firmware updates. On the Apple side, you’ll get “Hey Siri” hands-free voice control, basic in-phone customization options, message playback, and audio sharing. They’ll also auto handoff to your Apple Eatch, but don’t allow for automatic switching between iCloud devices like AirPods.

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