In Spenny vs Penny we compare the products we love, with those following in their (sometimes pricey) footsteps. Are they worth the cash? Here, we try to find the best wireless headphones, seeing how they compare to Beats Solo3.
Spenny: Beats Solo3 Wireless, Beats by Dre, £249.95
I received a pair of Beats Solo3 headphones as a (very generous) birthday present back in October and have been attached to them ever since.
It’s no exaggeration to say the noise isolation along with the clear, crisp sound, has revolutionised my hefty 1 hour 10minute commute. Wearing these headphones shuts out the noise of fellow passengers and helps me drift into my own world, lowering my stress levels in the process.
I also love the sleek, satin silver look; despite having comfortable padding on the sells and headband, the headphones don’t look at all chunky. They snap firmly (but not too tightly) to my ears, meaning they stay in place while running, the sharp base driving me forwards that little bit faster.
One downside is that my long (and unruly) hair has a tendency to get trapped in the small gap between the ear pad and outer shell. But I’ve learned not to yank the headphones off before checking I’m not attached.
The headphones have up to 40 hours of battery life and a rapid charge function which provides three hours of playback after just five minutes of charging. It’s perfect for someone like me who’s constantly forgetting to plug in devices. And better yet, they fold up and come with a handy carry case, meaning I can throw them in my bag without worrying about damaging them.
But there’s no denying these headphones are expensive. Very expensive. If I hadn’t received them as a gift, there’s no way I would have spent £250 on headphones for myself. So how do the cheaper options on the market compare?
Buy the Beats here.
Penny: Panasonic HTX80BE Bluetooth Wireless Over-Ear Headphones, John Lewis, £59.99
The retro, open-cord look of these headphones is divisive: my boyfriend thinks they’re cool, my friend says they look broken fresh out of the box. I decide I’m not a fan the moment my hair becomes tangled around the exposed metal. Admittedly I’ve been wearing them slung around my neck (like a scarf) on a windy train platform, but they don’t fold and won’t fit easily in my bag, so what’s a girl to do?
Once they’re on though, these headphones are super comfy; they don’t clamp on to your ears too tightly yet they do stay in place, meaning I can go running with them with no issues. Of all the pairs, they’re the ones I’d be happy to wear throughout a full working day.
My colleagues might not be so pleased at this choice though – I can still hear the sounds of a bustling newsroom while I’m wearing them, and this goes both ways with my colleagues subjected to show tunes on repeat (#sorrynotsorry).
The sound is pretty decent overall, with a clear base that has a little less kick than the Beats. For the cheaper price the battery is also pretty great; they’ll last for 24 hours after a full charge, or a quick 15 minute charge will give you 2.5 hours of playback.
Buy the Panasonic headphones here.
Penny: SkullCandy Riff Wireless On-Ear Headphones, SkullCandy, £49.99
I’m unimpressed when I open the SkullCandy headphones – they look a little basic and remind me of headphones you might be given for free on a plane, faux leather and all. But they grow on me throughout the trial and are the ones I find myself grabbing off the side again and again as I pop to the shops.
The earshells have a generous cushion and despite the headband not having any padding, they’re comfortable to wear. Unlike with the Beats or Panasonic headphones, the super simple design means there’s no nooks or crannies for my hair to get stuck in.
I decide not to go running in this pair as they feel the loosest of the lot when I give them the “wobble head test” at home – but they’re not advertised as a sports accessory, so I can live with that.
A huge plus for me is that these headphones fold up to a fairly small bundle and while it would be nice if they came with a carrying pouch, the lower price means I’m not too precious about throwing them in my bag.
The bass feels fairly powerful and although I’m missing the noise isolation of my Beats (especially when someone eats an apple with their mouth open on my commute), I’m pretty impressed with the overall sound for the price. They provide up to 12 hours of play time but the rapid charge function is a bonus, with 10 minutes of charge providing two hours of battery.
Buy the SkullCandy headphones here.
Penny: Philips Bass+ SHB3075WT/00 Wireless On-Ear Headphones, Argos, £39.99
There’s no denying it, these Phillips headphones look and feel cheap, but that’s because they are cheap, and for less than £40, I can *just about* overlook the plastic-heavy design (even if they do remind me of toy headphones you might give to a child).
The sound is a little scratchy compared to the others, and considering they’re called Bass+, I wouldn’t say the bass is particularly noteworthy. Again, they aren’t so great at blocking out sound.
Comfort-wise, the ear muffs are soft but the padding is thin. The headband also doesn’t include any padding at all, and after around an hour I’m itching to take them off. They do largely work for running, but the smooth headband does mean they slowly shuffle out of place and need re-adjusting a couple of times.
A USP of these headphones is that the ear shells swivel, meaning they can be stored flat. Although this is more useful than rigid designs, I personally prefer versions that fold completely. Like the SkullCandy set, the battery lasts throughout the day with up to 12 hours of play time. Overall though they’re my least favourite of the lot, and I’d be temped to save an extra 10 quid for a different pair.
Buy the Philips headphones here.
Correction: The article originally stated that Beats Solo3 headphones have noise-cancelling technology, instead they promise “noise isolation”, designed to “buffer outside noise for immersive sound”. The article has been updated accordingly.