Beats Pill Bluetooth Speaker Review: Back From the Dead and Improved in a Few Key Ways

8.5/ 10

Beats Pill (2024)


  • Very good sound quality for its size
  • Strong battery life
  • USB-C audio and charge-out feature
  • IP67 waterproof and dust-proof
  • Speakerphone capability
  • Integrated lanyard


  • No auxiliary input
  • Heavier than Bose SoundLink Flex

A couple of years ago, Apple-owned Beats discontinued its Pill Plus Bluetooth speaker, which came out in 2015 for $200 and was pretty popular until the market got flooded with more competitively priced compact Bluetooth speakers. Frankly, I never thought we’d see another Beats Pill. But here we are in 2024 with a new, improved Pill that features better sound, battery life, durability, USB-C charging and audio, along with a lower price tag ($150) that matches that of Bose’s top-rated SoundLink Flex.

Which is the better portable wireless speaker? Read on to get my thoughts on that and more.

Read more: Best Bluetooth speakers of 2024

Beats Pill (2024) design

The last time I saw the Beats Pill Plus was when I was loading it into a moving box in March of 2020 when CNET shut down its offices in New York as the COVID-19 pandemic started. That box eventually got moved to a new office and sat around unopened for a few years.

When I got word that a new Pill was coming (Beats teased it back in April, courtesy of a Lebron James’ social media post), I went looking for the box and found the Pill Plus toward the bottom. It was the white version and it would only charge to 50%, but it did work, allowing me to compare it to the new Pill.

The two speakers are similarly shaped, but the new Pill is even more cylindrical. It also has a speaker grille on only one side, while the Pill Plus had grilles on both sides. Available in red, champagne and black, the new Pill weighs in at 24 ounces (680 grams) or about 2 ounces less than the Pill Plus (26.4 ounces or 748 grams). The new Pill seems a tad larger than the old Pill, but not by much.


Along with black, the Beats Pill is available in red and champagne colors.

David Carnoy/CNET

The Pill Plus had a Lightning port, while the new Pill is equipped with USB-C like all of Apple’s newest products. The new Pill also comes with a detachable lanyard, so you can carry the speaker more easily and potentially hang it from something. Along with a power button and universal control button, there are volume controls and the speaker itself — at least the back two-thirds of it — has a nice soft-to-the-touch rubber finish. Overall, the design is a clear upgrade over that of the Pill Plus, which you’d expect given that we got the Pill Plus almost 10 years ago. 

Another key difference is the water-resistance and dust-resistance ratings. The previous Pill didn’t have an IP rating, while the new Pill has an IP67 rating, which makes it fully waterproof and dust-proof. The Pill Plus had a rubber gasket that covered its Lighting, USB-out and auxiliary input ports. This model only has a single USB-C port that’s both charge-in and charge-out and has no cover. The Beats “b” logo is smaller and has moved from the top of the speaker (it was a “b” button on the Pill Plus) to a more prominent spot on the grille. Seems like a good branding choice.

The new Pill is about 10% lighter than the Pill Plus (shown in white). 

David Carnoy/CNET

Note that you can hang the speaker vertically using the lanyard but the speaker is designed to be rested horizontally and has little rubber feet on the bottom. I didn’t drop it, but the speaker should survive short drops fairly well so long as you don’t drop it directly on its grill, which sits on the front third of the speaker (the edges of the speaker are rubberized and presumably offer some shock resistance). 

Beats Pill (2024) features

The speaker is equipped with Bluetooth 5.3 and is compatible with Apple and Android/Chrome devices, as well as other devices that have Bluetooth audio connectivity. The features are very similar for Apple and Android users, including one-touching pairing, though Android users have to use the Beats app for Android for firmware updates and accessing the limited settings options.

Like with the Beats Studio Pro and Solo 4 headphones, there’s multipoint Bluetooth pairing for Android users with automatic switching between devices linked to your Google account. If you’re an Apple user, the speaker links to your iCloud account, but you’ll have to manually switch between devices, which some people prefer because auto switching can be a bit wonky and irritating.

You can link multiple Pills together in amplify mode or create a stereo pair with two Pills (you have to link them in amplify mode and then press the universal control button and the volume up button on one of the speakers to designate that speaker as the left “reference” speaker). Needless to say, you get real stereo separation when you do have them in a stereo pair. 


The back of the speaker features a rubberized finish. The speaker is fully waterproof. 

David Carnoy/CNET

Both Apple and Android users get the Find My feature (Google calls it Find My Device). It shows the last place the device was used, but you don’t have the Precision Find My feature that the AirPods Pro 2 have that’s far more advanced.

As noted, there’s no auxiliary input, but you can connect your USB-C equipped smartphone or computer to the USB-C port to get a wired digital connection (you hold down the power button as you’re connecting the USB-C cable to get into wired mode). Beats says the Pill is capable of lossless audio via USB-C with a max sample rate of 48 kHz/24-bit. I did notice a very slight difference when connected in wired mode — there’s a touch more detail and clarity — but it’s not a night-and-day bump up in sound quality.

Finally, the Pill can be used as a speakerphone, and it does work well in this capacity. Callers said they could hear me clearly even with some background noise in my home. The speakerphone functionality is not something that’s available with the Bose SoundLink Flex.


The Pill hanging vertically.

David Carnoy/CNET

Beats Pill (2024) sound quality

Beats says the Pill features a newly engineered woofer system to “drive its improved bass response and sound performance.” The Pill has a single racetrack neodymium woofer that Beats notes has 53% more “pistonic area” than the dual circular woofers on the Pill Plus. Also, the increased magnet grade (N50H) “enables 28% stronger motor force and is capable of 90% more air volume displacement when compared to the dual-woofer system in Pill Plus.”

All that translates into a clearly better sounding speaker than the Pill Plus. The new Pill sounds louder and also has better bass definition and overall clarity. It’s a big difference. 

I compared the Pill to both the Bose SoundLink Flex ($150) and Sonos Roam 2 ($180). The Pill is a little more dynamic sounding speaker than the SoundLink Flex and seems a little brighter, with slightly more forward midrange (where vocals live). I wouldn’t necessarily say it sounds better than the Bose, but it plays a little louder and has a bit more sculpted sound.


I compared the Beats Pill to the Bose SoundLink Flex, which also lists for $150. 

David Carnoy/CNET

While all three of these speakers are essentially mono speakers, the both the Pill and SoundLink Flex have reasonably wide sound stages — the sound appears to extend out from their sides, a little more so than what you get with the Sonos Roam 2. I listened to the Pill and Roam 2 with CNET’s home audio editor, Ty Pendelbury, and we both agreed the Roam 2, which is a little smaller and also sound very good for its size, is a little more even-handed and balanced with its sound, though both the Pill and SoundLink Flex produce a little more bass.

It’s always a little hard to compare these speakers for sound because there is some variation from track to track due to the tonal balance of the speakers. Sometimes I thought the Pill sounded better than the Bose with certain tracks — but sometimes the opposite was true. I should also note that while the bass response is more impressive than you’d think for such compact speakers, there is a limit to how much bass these speakers will produce, particularly when you play more complicated tracks with lots of instruments playing at the same time. 

All three of these speakers sound better than the JBL Flip 5, which costs about $100. And I’d choose the Pill and SoundLink Flex over JBL’s likable Charge 5 speaker simply because you’re getting comparable sound quality in a more compact speaker. 

As far as stereo pairing two Pills goes, as I said, you do get some real stereo separation and a sizable jump in sound quality. You’re not going to get the same sound quality as what you get with a compact set of bookshelf speakers that cost around $300, but you do get decent sound that will fill a small to medium-size room with sound. 

Beats Pill (2024) battery life

The Pill Plus was rated for 12 hours of battery life. Beats says the new Pill can get up to 24 hours of battery life at 50% volume level or double what the Pill Plus offered. In my tests I was listening at varying volume levels (I tend to have the volume at around 70% and sometimes crank it all the way up to see how well the sound holds up without distorting), so I didn’t fully evaluate the battery life. That said, I didn’t have to recharge the speaker over four days of testing, and I did keep the speaker on for multiple hours a day, playing background music at low to moderate volume levels. It’s also worth noting that you get 2 hours of battery life from a 10-minute charge. 

Beats Pill (2024) final thoughts

The Beats Pill has improved in some key ways from its predecessor, particularly when it comes to sound quality, durability, battery life and price point. I do like the form factor and lighter weight of the Bose SoundLink Flex (and you can get decent Flex knockoffs like the Tribit Stormbox Flow and Soundcore by Anker Motion 300 for $80 and or even less when they’re discounted). But the Pill does have a few extras like USB-C audio wired mode and speakerphone functionality that are appealing.

You’ll have to decide how important those extras are when weighing the Pill against the Bose SoundLink Flex. But any way you look at it, the Pill is a very good compact Bluetooth speaker. Like the Bose, it’s an easy portable wireless speaker to recommend, especially if its price dips by $20 to $30, as the SoundLink Flex’s price sometimes does during flash sales.