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Beats pill in champagne

Beats Pill Review: Icon Returns, Now Surprisingly Good Value

The Bluetooth speaker that brought portable sound to the masses has returned with the re-release of the Beats Pill. This time, there’s more than celebrity-endorsed marketing behind the device with thoughtful features, surprising sound, and an affordable price to back it all up (AU$249).

This has quickly become one of my favourite portable speakers, and while it might use a mono sound profile due to packaging constraints, it sounds great for its size (21.9 cm x 7.1 cm x 7.0 cm) and brings unmatched connectivity for iPhone and Android phones, including lossless audio playback over USB-C and up to 24 hours of battery life.

RELATED: Apple iOS 18 Features: A Complete Guide.

Beats pill charging cable
Beats Pill | Image: Supplied

While the other Bluetooth portable speakers on the market offer full support for Android and Apple devices, the Beats Pill offers unmatched connectivity for iPhone users with a host of native Apple features, including:

  • Find My to locate your Beats Pill on a map
  • One-touch pairing, iCloud pairing, and Apple Watch pairing
  • Customization of product name and buttons
  • Automatic over-the-air software updates

If you’re an iPhone user and you’re shopping among the multiple options on the market, this native connectivity is likely to be enough to convince you to buy one. You won’t find hands-free “Hey Siri” voice commands or any AirPlay integration, but this is the closest thing to an Apple-branded portable speaker.

Beats pill in champagne next to bag
Beats Pill | Image: Supplied

Physically speaking, the device measures 21.9 cm x 7.1 cm x 7.0 cm which makes it very portable and similar in size to competitors like the Sonos Roam (AU$289), Bose SoundLink Flex Bluetooth Speaker (AU$249), Marshall Emberton II Bluetooth Speaker (AU$289), Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3 (AU$329), and Sony SRS-XE300 X-Series (AU$299).

It also weighs 681 grams, which makes it about as heavy as an iPad Air and 10% lighter than Pill+. The shape is a tad bulky, however, it’s portable enough to bring to parties on the weekend, especially with the removable lanyard attached to the device.

There’s also plenty of built-in durability with a silicone outer layer, and while I’ve never found a need to use a portable speaker next to a pool, it’s dust—and water-resistant with an IP67 rating.

Controls are found on top of the Pill, they’re easy to use, and include the following functions:

  • Power Button:
    • Power On/Off: Press once
    • Pairing: Press and hold
    • Voice Assistant: Double tap
    • Battery Status: Tap once
    • USB-C Audio: Press and hold while plugging in the device using USB-C
    • Reverse Charge In/Out: Triple tap
  • Centre Button:
    • Play/Pause: Press once
    • Skip Forward: Press twice
    • Skip Backward: Press three times
    • Amplify Mode: Press and hold both Pill speakers
    • Stereo Mode: Press and hold centre button + volume up
    • Break Group Amplify/Stereo: Press and hold centre button + volume down
  • Volume Button:
    • Volume Down
    • Volume Up

Once you’ve figured out which side of the device the buttons are on, it’s really simple to use. The middle button has a little nub, and the volume buttons are next to each other. When push comes to shove, you’ll control most of the functions through the Beats by Dre app on your phone.

Beats pill in champagne next to bag
Beats Pill | Image: Supplied

Sound-wise, the “Racetrack” woofer and tweeter combo can handle 90% more air volume displacement than the dual-woofer system in the previous Pill+. However, this is not going to blow you away when you compare it to other dedicated speakers like the Apple HomePods (2nd generation) or larger-format Bluetooth speakers like the Ultimate Ears Hyperboom (AU$599). However, this is a portable Bluetooth speaker, and it has a few tricks to maximise sound.

For one, you can put the Beats Pill into Amplify Mode which lets you pair two Beats Pill speakers together for twice the audio experience, particularly useful when you’re listening in two different rooms. From there, you can also choose Stereo Mode which syncs the speakers together and allows for left/right playback. To do this, hold down the centre buttons on two Pills simultaneously.

Of course, to do any of this, you need two Pills, which is probably not the greatest investment if you’re after surround sound; a larger speaker will do a better job at a similar price.

I’ve never considered using a Bluetooth portable speaker as a device for phone calls, but that option is available with the Beats Pill. I stumbled across this while testing the sound quality. My better half phoned me, and she was surprised by the quality of the call. Upon further investigation, the noise-learning algorithm aids this, so both sides can happily chat away with a full duplex and without ambient noise.

Beats pill verdict
Beats Pill | Image: Supplied

We’ve reached a point where most Bluetooth speakers on the market offer the same things. They sound similar, offer great battery life, are waterproof, dustproof, durable, etc. However, the Beats Pill is the only device we’ve used that seamlessly connects to my iPhone, and for that reason alone, it’s my pick of the bunch at this price.

Of course, if you’re not an iPhone user, the Beats Pill is still a great option, but you’ll want to shop around and test our top three recommendations: Sonos Roam (AU$289), Bose SoundLink Flex Bluetooth Speaker (AU$249), Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3 (AU$329), and hear them for yourself.

You can pick up a new Beats Pill in three colours—matte Black, Champagne Gold, and Statement Red—for AU$249 via the retailers linked below.

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