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Beats Pill - Performance, Value & Verdict

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly



Our Score:


Beats Pill - Performance

Unfortunately that's not the case, but not for the reasons we had expected. In the past we have criticised Beats earphones and headphones for being bass heavy at the expense of depth and clarity, but with the Pill the experience is reversed. Across a wide variety of music genres we found the Pill demonstrated excellent clarity and sounds particularly good on acoustic tracks, but upon switching to heavier rock, dance or hip hop tracks the low and midrange frequencies fall flat.

Beats Pill 9

In all fairness thumping bass isn't expected for a small speaker, but it cannot match the bass performance of the Jambox and is comprehensively blown away by the Minirig. The latter in particular is multiple times louder, something the 3W total output differential doesn't suggest (again, always take wattagefigures with a pinch of salt). Yes the Pill will provide a healthy boost over your phone's inbuilt speaker, but it isn’t going to power an impromptu room party and the thin bass will be a shock to its core target audience.

Beats Pill - Conference Calls and Battery Life

When it comes to conference calls results are better. Callers can tell you are on a loudspeaker, but both parties can be heard clearly and the volume level is consistent - something that often afflicts smaller conferencing devices.

Beats Pill 4

As for battery life, this is again a letdown. Bluetooth usage drains power rapidly and while Beats claims the Pill can last up to eight hours on a wired connection we found it drops closer to four/five hours over wireless. By comparison we got eight hours from the Jambox while the Minirig's wired-only limitation does see it last up to a staggering 60 hours.

Beats Pill - Value

We'll cut straight to it: the Pill retails for £169.99 which is a substantial amount of money. We referred to the Jambox as a "guilty pleasure" when it launched in 2010 at £159.99, but packs the same call conferencing functionality and can be found now for closer to £130. Meanwhile the Minirig sells for £90 and provides audio and battery life that are on a different scale to the Pill. That said it lacks Bluetooth or call conferencing – so you have to decide what matters most to you.

Beats Pill 7

Interestingly at £170 the Pill also creeps unnervingly close to the Bose SoundLink mobile speaker whose original £260 RRP has been reduced to £215. The SoundLink is an altogether larger unit at 1.3Kg, but is also offers far superior build quality, audio performance and outright volume making it powerful enough to work as a kitchen or bedroom speaker when you aren't travelling.

Beats Pill - Verdict

A new year and a new product line, but it results in a familiar outcome as we again find the Beats by Dre product line has prioritised style over substance. In fact in the case of the Pill it is arguable that, despite high quality build materials, it doesn't carry off the same youth orientated design aesthetic that has seen millions flock to the brand. In isolation the Pill sounds reasonable, but it lacks bass and midrange compared to the competition and while it has reasonable call conferencing capabilities its price tag is utterly disproportionate to its abilities in such a competitive market. Then again, we still expect it to sell by the bucket load.

Beats Pill speaker not for you? Have a look at our round-up of the best portable speakers to buy

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 6
  • Features 8
  • Sound Quality 6
  • Usability 7
  • Value 5


January 3, 2013, 9:00 am

I've had my Minirig a year now thanks to this site. It truly is a magnificent device. Use it every day and have only charged it about 5 times. I cannot praise it enough.


January 3, 2013, 10:02 am

Yup, they are quite brilliant. Not seen or heard anything that comes close before or since.


January 3, 2013, 1:33 pm

Can I plug the Minirig to my Android-phone? I was actually looking into Sonos' multi room options for the kitchen and bathroom but I'll need to add a ZP90 as well as I only have a Squeezebox player now. The Sonos setup will be expensive. However, I could just buy the Minirig to fulfill my needs while saving up for the Sonos setup. But...will the Minirig be compatible with my smartphone?

Also, can you compare these with the X-Mini Max II? I have the X-Mini Max II and they're quite good if you can find them for £15-20 but at their retail price (£45-50) they're quite expensive and don't exactly live up to the hype IMO.


January 3, 2013, 2:27 pm

Yes, the Minirig will work with almost any device, so long as the signal isn't already amplified. It comes with a 3.5mm stereo jack cable that will work with all phones that use a standard headphone jack.

Oh, and the X-Mini Max II will be blown out of the water by all the speakers mentioned in this review, and particularly by the Minirig.


January 3, 2013, 3:29 pm

Thank you for the quick response, Ed!

Just curious. Where and when do you guys use your Minirig?


January 3, 2013, 4:31 pm

We use it in the bathroom/shower every day - as do the kids. Kitchen, garden, work (AV presentations - thus partially tax deductible), camping, beach trips and particularly holidays.


January 3, 2013, 5:52 pm

Great! Thank Angusmb. The portability and performance really is tempting. I also think the price is fair and I'm also quite sure that I'll be shocked the very first time I hear the Minirig.

I know it's just one unit but wouldn't the sound be muffled and hard to separate with this one unit since it's mono? Surely you need a stereo configuration to get the best out of them, or am I badly mistaken here?


January 4, 2013, 1:36 am

You can plug it in directly, but I find it far more convenient to plug it into a Samsung HS3000 bluetooth receiver. Cheap and it supports APT-X, which is great for phones that support it. I wish the HS3000 had battery life comparable to the minirig but you can't have everything.

Although since I got an Altec Lansing IMW725 for £75 on ebay I've only used the minirig when I'm travelling. The Altec has taken over the shower because it has far better bass, even if it's a little muddier overall. The Altec's a little harder to find for that price nowadays, but it's not too difficult.

Gordon Kelly

January 4, 2013, 10:17 am

The Minirig simply uses a 3.5mm auxiliary jack so it will work with any device regardless of operating system. It is a different class for the Max II, they aren't in the same ballpark.


January 4, 2013, 2:18 pm

By all means it does have its limitations and in particular it's best not suited to enhancing the audio on a laptop, say, where you're closeup and want an accurate stereo effect. However, for camping, the kitchen, out in the garden or in the garage it's great for simply sticking in a corner and cranking out some tunes.

Gordon Kelly

January 11, 2013, 7:04 pm

You're badly mistaken ;)
Don't confuse stereo with clarity, they are two very separate things and the Minirig has stunning clarity.

So far we have yet to be impressed by any portable speaker using multiple drivers, the dimensions are simply too small to create any real stereo separation and it wastes space that could be better spent on a single large driver and bigger battery.

Gordon Kelly

January 11, 2013, 7:07 pm

I remember the IMW725 well, it really surprised me when I reviewed it: http://www.trustedreviews.c... - as it is slowly being phased out there have been some incredible deals around.

I hadn't thought of using a Bluetooth receiver with a Minirig, but it is an interesting idea. AptX is a brilliant codec and it really should be a standard part of all Bluetooth speakers, but I do still find Bluetooth quite a faff compared to just plugging in your device directly and that gets the best sound quality and saves substantial battery life on both the phone and the speaker.


January 12, 2013, 3:42 pm

It was one of the reviews on this site mentioning the good deals for the IMW725 that put me onto it in the first place, so thanks for that :)

Plugging the phone directly into the Minirig is simpler (and louder), but not so good if I want to use the Minirig in the bathroom. It's often handy to have the phone and speaker separate, for example selecting tracks and controlling the music is easier.

Any Bluetooth audio device that doesn't have Apt-X is an automatic 'no' for me. I think the biggest problem with Bluetooth streaming is that you can't stream to more than one device at a time. That fairly simple change would make multi-room audio far simpler and cheaper to achieve.


May 7, 2013, 5:19 am

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August 30, 2013, 4:04 am

Highly recommend not buying the pill after taking a trip to the apple store testing every single name brand speaker only to find out that the jambox is the worst and that the beats pill is the second worse and the 2 Are terrible compared to the "ultimate ears boom" or any other jbl speaker in the store. The pill is the same price as the other speakers but preformed one fourth as well. So I challenge you to do do before buying this product that puts the beats by dre's name to shame

Johnny Rooney

September 8, 2013, 2:47 pm

i love it great sound but bad battery life

Barry M

September 16, 2013, 6:55 pm

I just received my second Pill after returning the first one because it simply didn't work: no electricity, and when I called customer service they confirmed the power supply was often a problem; it couldn't be turned on whether plugged in or not, and battery couldn't charge. I just got the replacement, and same problem, obviously no testing and no effort to assure reliability, this product is worthless!


September 29, 2013, 1:06 am

Even with using my iPod through the audio jack and with mid level volume, my Pills battery life lasts nowhere near 8 hours - cut that in half. The sound is not a letdown, though.

Henry Harris

November 11, 2013, 9:18 pm

do you need to supply batteries for it or is there a seperate charger

the truth hurts

November 20, 2013, 10:23 pm

if people never focused on the "beats" name and actually looked around for a good bluetooth speaker, they would realized how bad the sound quality is just like the beeats headphones


December 25, 2013, 5:04 pm

The noise for high volume performance can be easily fixed by playing quality versions of music and not the low-quality minified versions of the songs. For HQ mp3s I did not have ANY issues with distortion as load as it can play (VERY loud). The bass indeed lacks a little bit of bass depending on the song/mp3 but other than that it's perfect (So Far)!


April 9, 2014, 4:46 pm

I have both the BOSE Mini Soundlink and the Beats Pill and I have found that neither one keeps its charge long at all! I usually just connect one to play music while getting ready for work. I always manually shut them off and when I turn them back on the next day they're both blinking red/orange: "charge needed"! I don't know what the odds of getting two different portable speakers and having them both be faulty are but its so strange! I want to try and bring the Pill back and exchange it but the problem is I won it from Interscope Records through this app, so I can't bring it "back to the store" I got it from :/ I'm going to end up calling Beats customer service I just haven't had the time.

I've also encountered a big problem with BOTH speakers. While using either the sound will just stop playing, mid song, show, whatever I'm using it for, it'll just go quiet. I'll check the device and what I'm playing is still going and hasn't stopped so its not due to that. I'll try pausing and starting it again and still no sound, so I have to turn off the speaker, turn it back on again and reconnect it via Bluetooth again. Has anyone ever had this problem? It's happened to both the Pill and my Bose Mini Soundlink, and again, so weird! It's not a problem I can easily replicate either to show someone at the BOSE store and I have no idea when it's going to happen so I can't take a video or anything. Anyone know what the issue may be?
My Bose speaker has some connectivity problems as well. It never connects to any of my devices right: iPhone 5s, iPad 3, or my MacBook. I usually start the process by turning on my device's Bluetooth, then turn on the speaker and try to connect them, I always get the "not in range" error despite having the thing right next to my device! This doesn't seem to be a problem at all with the Pill.

I try clearing the BOSE Mini Soundlink's memory which the directions tell me to do, as did customer service when I called, and still nothing. So almost every single time I want to use it, I have to click "forget device" on my device, then clear the speaker's memory, and THEN I have to try and connct the device all over again, as if its day 1 all over again, its incredible annoying.

Anyone know anything about any of these issues and how to fix them? :(

Daniëlle Zana

August 5, 2014, 12:19 am

Just got myself one of these, I am surprised the sound that could come out of such a small thing. I was expecting the sound to be reasonable, and not as good what it actually sounds like. Despite the reviews of having no base, this thing has an amazing base in comparison to its small compact size, which would beat any small sized standard portable radio or audio CD radio , and standard entry level PC speakers. Though you can't compare it with its big brothers and larger similar devices. The pill shape adds to the efficiency of mobility and easy to carry around, that you could have this in your handbag or large jacket pocket. Devices of other brands do not have a well designed shape , and are all square and rigid. This round shape makes it be handled well in your hands. If anyone wishes to have better sound than what the pill offers, you would have to sacrifice portability with size. But this will do the job with me… and beats my standard pc speakers, the built in speakers on the Macbook … and if you live in an apartment flats half volume won't annoy the Neighbours, full volume would.


January 14, 2015, 5:09 am

From the symptoms described, I think the problem is that you're using Apple. :p

Gaphel Zam

December 26, 2015, 6:08 pm

This product has usb charge port. In that usb charge port can we put usb and play songs?

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