The Beats Pill has been around for years. It used to be a little stick rammed full of tiny drivers, but the latest Beats Pill+ has finally got with the programme. It’s a bit bigger, and a lot better-sounding as a result.
It’s a chunky cylinder of metal speaker grille, rounded off at the sides for that pill-like look. This is also the most iPhone-prepped portable speaker going, as it uses a Lightning cable to charge rather than the more generic microUSB or USB-C.
The message is clear: Android fans go home. Or, better still, buy an iPhone.
There are real pros and cons to the sound, and it’s mostly down to the kind of drivers Beats uses. Most small speakers these days have things called passive radiators, which you can think of as bass turbo-chargers. The Pill+ doesn’t have these, instead using standard drivers that simply pump much harder than most.
Bass depth suffers: you wouldn’t guess a Bose speaker would blast out beats better than Beats, but it’s the case here. In return you get a speaker that can go very, very loud for its size and that cuts through noise better than just about anything else. It’ll be perfect for outdoors use, although indoors there’s a brash hardness to the mids that at times feels a bit sandpaper-like on the eardrums when you whack up the volume.
After all that talk of outdoors listening, the Pill+ isn’t officially water resistant, although rubbery flaps over the ports on the back suggest it won’t die as soon as it gets splashed. Other features include very solid 12hr battery life, a mic for speakerphone antics and the ability to pair two of the things for stereo on-the-go.