Beats Solo 4 just launched for $199 — 4 reasons to buy and 2 to skip

Beats Solo4
(Image credit: Future)

Is it time to upgrade you Beats Solo3 headphones for the newer Beats Solo 4? The latest headphones from the Apple sub-brand, available now in three colors for $199, are packed with upgrades that modernize the most iconic Beats by Dre style.

You can buy a lot of the best headphones for under $200, but there are a few reasons to consider the Beats Solo 4. They have both USB-C and 3.5mm connectivity, both of which support lossless playback. With up to 50 hours of battery life, the Solo4 are also among the longest-lasting headphones you'll find (and they even work without a charge in certain instances.) They're one of the few Apple-made products that play nice with Android devices, too. 

But there are some trade-offs that come with Beats Solo 4 that don't make them the right headphones for everyone. Read my reasons to buy and reasons to skip the Beats Solo 4 headphones below.

Beats Solo 4: Reasons to buy

Premium audio features for a fair price

These days, you usually need to shell out over two hundred dollars for headphones with a full-featured listening experience. But the Beats Solo 4 and their bespoke acoustic architecture sound solid, with a nice focus on vocals and balanced midtones from my experience. That’s paired with premium features like lossless playback when you use a compatible source file or streaming service with a USB-C connection, or high-res lossless playback with the 3.5 millimeter input.

That said, I think more people will be excited to know the Solo 4 also have Personalized Spatial Audio, which quite effectively creates an immersive surround sound environment when listening to music, shows or even on FaceTime calls. This feature is found throughout most of the AirPods and Beats products, so it’s good to see the Solo 4 finally join the Spatial Audio party. 

Beats Solo 4: $199 @ Amazon

Beats Solo 4: $199 @ Amazon
The newest Beats headphones have 50 hours of battery life and lossless playback support.

Convenient design

I’m someone who cares a lot about the portability of a pair of headphones. If you’re going to take them on the go, and if you travel a lot, you might want a pair of headphones that collapse and fold in to take up the least amount of space. That’s exactly what you get with the Solo 4.

Collapsible cans is kind of baked into the Beats design language at this point, but still, I really appreciated being able to fold them up, toss them in my bag, and not worry about my other gadgets and such all fitting. They’re even small enough for a pocket, but to keep them safe, Beats ships them with a soft zipper pouch case. You’re looking at just about 8 ounces for the whole package — it doesn’t get much more convenient than that.

Great battery life

But if you really want to talk about convenience, people who care about battery life should consider the Solo 4 headphones. The previous-gen Solo 3s had up to 40 hours of battery life, but the Solo 4 now have 50 hours of battery life. That makes them the longest lasting Apple headphones in terms of straight playback time, even beating out the $349 Beats Studio Pro that came out last year by 10 hours. 

You do have to be kind of mindful about powering them down when you’re not using them, though just a 10 minute charge gets you 5 hours of playback for a quick top-off. But for some reason if they aren’t charged at all, luckily no battery is required while listening via an aux cable. That’s pretty epic for in-flight entertainment systems, if you ask me. 

Compatibility with iOS and Android

A final reason to buy the Beats Solo 4 is that they’re one of the very few Apple devices that are built to play nice with Android smartphones or other Android Bluetooth sources. You will want to download the Beats app from the Play Store, compared to the super instant setup process on an iPhone, but from there you’ll features like one-touch pairing and Find My Device — the kind of things that are usually reserved for iOS users. 

Beats is a super recognizable brand that people love to buy into, so it’s good that all users can benefit from these kinds of connectivity features.

Beats Solo 4: Reasons to skip

No Active Noise Cancellation

If you’re someone who considers noise cancellation a priority, you probably want to skip the Beats Solo 4. They’re in this category of on-ear headphones, versus over-ear headphones that cover your ears entirely to create an isolation seal. There is some degree of passive noise isolation, but it’s not enough to block out environmental sounds unless you’re listening at high volumes, which I do not recommend from an ear health perspective. 

And if you know that going in, it’s fine, but I will say you can get very good noise cancelling headphones for the same price if not less. I really like the Sennheiser Accentum. You’ll find a lot of noise calling options in the wireless earbuds category as well.

So-so build quality

Another reason someone might want to avoid the Solo 4 headphones is that the build quality doesn’t quite match the standard of some of the other Beats or Apple products customers have come to expect. 

Now to be fair, that bar is pretty high and trade-offs had to be made. The Solo 4s are by no means cheap-feeling, but there are some small little things that I noticed, like the angle of the stitching on the earcups. The headband also doesn’t have a lot of give, or at least the kind that adjusts to all head shapes. I suspect some people will find the clamping force to feel a bit tight after a few hours of use.

Beats Solo 4: Buy or skip?

There are a lot of reasons to buy the Beats Solo 4 for $199. The long battery life, lossless playback support, and convenience features make them a good value for the price. The on-ear style limits the noise-cancelation abilities, but if you don't have your heart set on ANC it won't matter. Plus, considering how long it took Beats to updates the Solo3 headphones, you can rest-assured the Solo 4 are going to be available for years to come.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.