Portable Bluetooth speakers seem to be one of the most popular consumer technology devices right now, so it's no surprise to see Beats jump into the game. The Beats Pill is compact, well designed and easy to use, but it lacks bass, distorts at high volume levels and is overpriced. See all audio reviews.
A giant pill
The Beats Pill, as its name suggests, has been designed to look like a giant pill, the type you swallow with a glass of water. It's a long cylinder with rounded ends on either side and a flat, rubber base on the bottom that allows it to sit on a desk or table without rolling over. It weighs just 310g, so it's one of the lightest products in its class. Take a look at Group test: what's the best speaker set?
A striking design is clearly the best feature of the Beats Pill, but it hasn't come at a cost of build quality: the device feels very well constructed. The speaker grills feel sturdy and solid, the matte plastic on the back is smooth and doesn't creak or rattle when pressed, and the glossy buttons on the front add to the overall look and feel. See the Denon Cocoon Home review too.
The Beats Pill has been designed to look like a giant pill.
A band running straight through the middle of the Beat Pill houses all of its controls. There's a large Beats button front and centre which acts as a multifunction key. It plays and pauses music, acts as an answer call button when the unit is used as a speakerphone, and puts the device into Bluetooth pairing mode when held for three seconds. There's also volume up and down buttons, and a power button on the back.
The Beats Pill has NFC connectivity, which allows you to automatically pair any NFC-enabled smartphone. We successfully managed to pair the speaker with multiple smartphones including a Samsung Galaxy S4 and a Sony Xperia Z. There's also a microUSB port for charging the device, 3.5mm audio input and output jacks, and a Bluetooth indicator light on the back.
A lack of bass in your beats
Setting up the Beats Pill is as simple as you'd expect from a Bluetooth audio device. Power on the speaker, hold down the Beats button for three seconds to put the unit into pairing mode, and connect your smartphone, tablet or other Bluetooth device.
The large Beats button front and centre acts as a multifunction key.
Unfortunately, the sound quality of the Beats Pill can't match its build quality and design. The Beats Pill lacks bass and distorts at high volume levels. It is reasonably loud and can easily fill a small room with sound, but music deteriorates if the volume is raised over 80 per cent.
The Beats Pill performs best in the midrange, but there's little stereo separation. This issue is common with small speakers, however, and not an issue solely with the Beats Pill.
At lower volumes, the Beats Pill produces reasonable sound. It's clear and full and only distorts when there is excessive bass. However, we found the Jabra Solemate offered better bass, and the UE Boom louder volume and better sound quality overall. Both are cheaper than the Beats Pill, so we think it is definitely overpriced.
3.5mm audio input and output jacks on the back allow for a wired connection.
A built-in speakerphone function means the Beats Pill can also be used to handle voice calls if connected to a mobile phone or smartphone. The sound is clearer and louder than what you would get from the built-in speakerphone on most smartphones.
Battery life is average. The Beats Pill lasted almost six hours during our testing, which is a decent but not outstanding result. It's enough for the odd tune, but not long enough to play music for a full day without the need for a power cord.
The Beats Pill comes with an AC adapter, a USB-to-micro-USB charging cable and a 3.5mm audio cable to connect to any wired device. There's also a matching, zippered case included, though unlike some other cases we've seen you can't play music through the speaker with the case on.