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Beats Solo Buds Are Apple's First Sub-$100 AirPods (Sort Of)

Beats earbuds may not be called AirPods, but Apple owns Beats, and the company's upcoming entry-level true-wireless earbuds cost only $80.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
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David Carnoy
2 min read
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Starting in June, the Solo Buds will be available in matte black, storm gray, arctic purple and transparent red for $80.

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

If you believe the rumors, Apple may release new sub-$100 AirPods later this year. But in the meantime, Apple-owned Beats has debuted its own "budget" earbuds, the $80 Solo Buds, which hit stores in early June in four color options. 

Announced alongside Beats' new Solo 4 on-ear headphones, the Solo Buds have a unique feature: their super compact charging case has no built-in battery. Equipped with a USB-C port, it won't charge your earbuds unless it's connected to a power source.

The good news is the relatively low-frills buds are rated for up to a whopping 18 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels on a single charge. Additionally, smartphones like the iPhone 15 that have a USB-C port that charges out can be used to charge the earbuds when they're in their case (many Android devices have USB-C-out charging). According to Beats, a 5-minute charge gives you up to 1 hour of playback.

Read moreBest Wireless Earbuds of 2024

The Beats Solo Buds have no battery in their case

The charging case has no battery, but you can charge the buds in their case using your iPhone 15 (and many Android phones) as a power source. 


The buds don't have active noise canceling or hands-free Siri like Beats' more expensive Studio Buds Plus earbuds. Nor do they have spatial audio with head tracking. However, Beats reps told me the buds have "dual-layer transducers designed to minimize micro-distortions across the frequency curve," and their sound quality is on par with the Studio Buds Plus. Voice-calling performance is also supposed to approach that of the Studio Buds Plus.

Beats Solo Buds Make Their Debut

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Like Beats' other earbuds and headphones, the Solo Buds have a physical "b" button on each bud for controlling playback and volume. You must configure the press-and-hold action in iOS settings or the Beats app to control volume.

This is an interesting move by Beats and Apple as they target budget-conscious consumers just looking for earbuds that feature decent sound and voice-calling performance in a small package (both the buds and case appear to be quite compact). While the Solo Buds' $80 price tag may still be a little pricey for some folks, I do expect to see them on sale for $60 and perhaps even a little less during the holiday buying season.