Adidas Solar Headphones Review: Infinite Music Playback?
Noticing your headphone battery drain to 0% is a real pain, especially if it happens right before you're due to head off to the gym. Most manufacturers tackle potential battery issues by adding fast charging tech into their latest cans. So, ten minutes hooked up to a cable will give you a few hours of life, for example. Sounds good, right? Well, not good enough for Adidas, clearly. The sportswear brand is taking a different route with its new RPT-02 SOL, eschewing any quick charge wizardry in favor of something far more futuristic and exciting.
These solar-powered sports headphones are constantly recharging themselves with any and all available light, whether natural or artificial. The idea here, in essence, is that you'll never be stuck with a dead battery and you'll theoretically get unlimited playtime out of these bad boys. It's a pretty big promise—so we tried them, and we're here to say you won't be disappointed.
Adidas RPT-02 SOL
The battery life is the major selling point here, and we're happy to report that we found it impossible to drain these over two weeks. Out of the box they had about 50% charge, which only went up as we used them during some sunnier days. Even when overcast, the juice trickles in from what tiny bits of sunlight the clever Powerfoyle solar panel built into the headband soaks up. They claim to work with artificial light too, and we could tell from the companion app (more on that below) that they do pick up some charge from our lights at home, but it's far less than what we managed to get in the daylight.
We didn't connect them to a cable at all during our two-week test, just leaving them out on the balcony a couple of times to absorb extra light when not in use. At the end of the fortnight, despite gaining and draining battery at different times, we saw that they had overall topped themselves up, now at 70%—and we used them constantly.
Downloading some software to your phone is essential for most headphones in 2022, and that's the case here too. But you still get a lot of control on the lightweight body of the Solar without having to dig out your phone. There's a multifunction button on the left ear cup that you can set to call on your phone's voice assistant and that will brighten up a circular indicator (pictured above) to show you how much light the headphones are receiving. On the right-hand side, you get a five-way control knob. It's up or down to control volume, side-to-side skips backward and forwards between tracks, and you can press the knob for on/off, play/pause, and pairing control. That's loads of intuitive functionality, and it just works, unlike certain annoying touch interfaces.
From the Adidas Headphones app (available for iOS and Android), you can view detailed charging data to see how much the battery is adding or losing at any given time. It'll accrue this data even when the headphones are off and basking in the sun, so you can check in the next time you switch them on to see their progress. Within the app, you can program the function of the "action" button too, and flip between a few different preset settings within the basic built-in equalizer.
Overall, the light charging interface is straightforward to understand, and in bright sunlight, we could see that the headphones began to gain more battery than they were expending on playback. Whether they'd fare quite as well during the British winter is unclear, but they promise a massive 80 hours of life in the dark, and you can always recharge via USB-C if you somehow manage to run them dry.
What about the sound, we hear you ask? Honestly, we've got no complaints. You've got to remember these are on-ears rather than over-ears so they've got less of a seal, and they don't add in fancy extras like active noise-canceling that would speed up the battery drain. For sports-focused headwear, they do a great job and deliver a fairly bassy thump without getting muddy and distorted. This makes them ideal for your gym playlist, and we also found they worked well for vocals when we caught up with our podcasts on our morning commute. You'd expect sound to leak out into the world around you a bit more with these, but we didn't get any odd looks while listening to music on the train in the morning or when using them in the office.
The fit is decent, even though it doesn't offer quite as much precise adjustment as certain other headphones might. They're designed with workouts in mind, and we're happy to say they stayed put during a session in the gym where we lifted some weights and used them on the rowing machine. We did hop on the treadmill at the end of the session and found there's a chance that they may slip off if you're running fast—if a perfect fit is essential, runners will want to consider proper earbuds with silicone wing tips instead.
When unboxing these, you can immediately tell that they've been designed with a "sustainable" approach in mind. Adidas says they're made from 87% recycled plastics and nylon, and it hasn't included a charging cable at all here. It's an acknowledgment that you'll probably use the light charging method if you picked these up, and that you're certain to have piles of spare USB-C cables lying around from every other gadget you own. Everything in the box is made of card or paper too, so you'll be able to recycle the entire package and just use the headphones, which we think is pretty impressive.
We're sure you're thinking about just how much of a beating these can withstand too, so it's great to see that they're IPX4 rated for protection from sweat and water splashes, perfect for workouts. They're not going to appreciate a full-on downpour, though, so that's worth noting. And, if you got them drenched while setting a PB at the gym during your latest session, we love that the ear cushions and headband are fully removable and washable.
These solar-powered headphones sound solid and deliver when it comes to unique features and reliability, winning points for an "eco-friendly" approach that should give you the unlimited playtime Adidas promises (although we have a feeling they may need wired recharging during the winter). They're comfortable, convenient, and user-friendly, and while runners may find they slip forward a bit during a jog, they're ideal if you're hitting the weights room at the gym. We tried hard to run the battery down and failed, so if you like the sound of a future-proof and innovative set of on-ear cans that always stay topped up, just go for it.
Adidas RPT-02 SOL Headphones: The Need-to-Know
- Weight: 256 g
- Battery Life: 80 hours without light, unlimited with light exposure
- Charging Time: 2 hours via USB-C, constant charge with light exposure
- Charging Port: USB-C
- Drivers: 40mm dynamic drivers
- Water Resistance: IPX4
From: Esquire UK