Beats Pill+ review: Dre’s Bluetooth speaker gets the Apple treatment
The Beats Pill+ is bassy, big-sounding, and actually pretty. Aesthetically, there isn’t a huge amount of change to the Beats Pill+ when compared to the first-generation Pill. It still sort of resembles a pill, but now it’s a pill that’s had just a little bit of the Jony Ive design magic sprinkled over it. It’s not quite an Apple product – but it clearly comes from the same zip code.
The Beats Pill+’s biggest change is that it now has both front- and rear-facing speakers (the original pill featured only a front-facing speaker). These are joined together by a hard rubber band that wraps over the top of the device.
Physical interaction with the Pill+ is simple, and there are just four buttons you can press. Power, volume up, volume down and the Bluetooth button, which is represented with Beats’ “b” logo.
Apple makes its biggest mark on the Pill+ in the form of its Lightning charging cable, which has replaced the micro-USB found in its predecessor. The 3.5m aux and USB phone charging port remain unchanged.
There’s also just a touch of Apple minimalism in the colour choices: you get black, or white. Take your pick, but don’t ask for anything more colourful.
Beats Pill+: Performance
The audio performance of the Pill+ is where it starts to earn its £189 price tag. It delivers a full range of tones with popping clarity. The higher end of the scale is what the original Pill tended to favour, while struggling to be convincing with anything bassy. During testing, I kept this in mind and listened to a good range of music to try and catch the Pill+ out. Alas, I failed. It’s officially a good speaker.
However, this isn’t a sound for audiophiles and absolute purists. If you’re the kind of person who fusses over whether your cables have gold connectors, you’ll probably hate it. The sound is very definitely a Beats sound, with all the pros and cons that involves. It’s not the muddy, muffled bass of early Beats headphones, but it’s bassy in the same way as the current Beats Solo2: deep, without being soggy.
Beats is attributing the improvement in sound quality to the new Pill’s pair of two-way speakers. Each boasts a woofer and tweeter, which, by design, enable it to cope better with different sound frequencies.
It also passes the most scientific of speaker tests: it’s heavy. That translates into having good audio hardware and a large battery. Beats quotes the Pill+ having 12-hour battery (and that’s being conservative)
As you’d expect, Beats Pill+ also has a connected mode. This simply lets you push audio from your phone to multiple Pill+ devices. A nice feature, but it’s been done before.
During my demo, I was able to spend a short amount of time with the accompanying Beats Pill+ app. This was pretty unremarkable and you only really need to download it if you’re going to use the Pill in a couple of situations: 1) if you’re steaming to more than one device and 2) if you’re in change of the speaker at a party and want to grant guest control to the Pill+ to a friend. The app will display a list of connected devices and will give you the ultimate power to allow or deny their access. Genius.
Beats Pill+: Verdict
As the quality of portable Bluetooth speakers has improved, the way we use them has evolved too. While they may be advertised for use by twentysomethings courting around a campfire, the reality is that a speaker that outputs good audio will be used in a lot more scenarios than that. House parties, morning routines, added power for tinny TV speakers – just about anything. For that, it needs good volume performance. It has it. It got uncomfortably loud when testing in a meeting room during the working day and is more than loud enough to pump out songs at a rousing level at a party. Want.