Take that entropy!
Adidas’ new solar powered headphones will sate your hunger for more battery life
With 80 hours of playback as a baseline and the ability to sustain themselves on sunlight, the RPT-02 SOL succeed in freeing you from the tyranny of having to think about battery life in the usual ways. Unfortunately, this freedom comes with its own terms and conditions.
No matter how much battery life your headphones boast and the discipline you exercise when it comes to keeping track of it, all things fade. Eventually, you'll slip up in one way or another and your tech will come up empty when you need it most.
While the arrival of things like wireless and faster fast charging has acted as something of a salve to this ailment, there's something to be said for more ambitious and unorthodox attempts like the new Adidas RPT-02 SOL.
The premise and the promise are simple. Workout-friendly headphones that can charge off the light of the sun. Solar-powered tech isn't entirely new, but it's rare to find it in something so polished and consumer-oriented as the Adidas RPT-02 SOL.
How much does the ADIDAS RPT-02 SOL cost in Australia?
In Australia, those looking to pick up the Adidas RPT-02 SOL are looking at a recommended retail price of $400.
That's fairly expensive as far as sports headphones go, though not nearly so much so as more premium fare like the AirPods Max or Sony WH-1000XM5s. These solar-powered headphones aren't the most you could spend, nor do they come close to the least you could get away with.
ADIDAS RPT-02 SOL - Solar power and battery life
The big claim to fame for the Adidas RPT-02 SOL is the promise of battery life that never runs out on you.
To that end, the sports headphones have a light sensor integrated into the headband and a hefty 80 hours of battery life. The latter is far from an inconsiderable sum, even compared to other heavyweights in the headphones space. Of course, the former is very much the main event.
The PowerFoyle tech here promises to convert all light to charge, but I was only ever able to get meaningful results with direct sunlight. When left in the sun, the headphones will passively soak up the rays and convert that to charge. It's slower than traditional methods and comes with its own handful of practical considerations, but it totally works as advertised.
If you're wondering whether Adidas' venture into experimental tech can cash the checks written by the marketing copy then the answer is a resounding yes.
Wearing these on a recent run, the battery life consumed by the music I was listening to was quickly and silently replaced by virtue of the fact that the sun was high in the sky that morning. If some clouds turn up, the 80 hours of battery life the RPT-02 SOL boast as a backup should more than make up the difference.
Once set up in the Adidas headphones app (available on both iOS and Android), you can even see a real-time graph of how the headphones are going in terms of the power they consume and collect.
If you happen to be the kind of person who loves themselves a good graph, this is a super neat inclusion. That said, I found myself wishing that the companion app here offered a few more options. It'd be nice to remap the controls to more things.
It'd be even better if the battery usage tracker displayed some sort of estimate for how much playtime remained at a given moment rather than a flat percentage.
On the flip side, the solar charging tech comes with some very particular requirements that I didn't always love.
The Adidas RPT-02 SOL won't run out of battery anytime soon, but I had to think a little bit more about when I wasn't using them than I would have with other headphones.
Rather than just plug it in and distract yourself with something else, the Adidas RPT-02 SOL ask you to find somewhere in your house or life with a clear line of sight to the sun. This will be easier for some than others. What's more, you have to be somewhat cautious here as Adidas warns that leaving the headphones in the sun for too long could result in heat damage. You can always use the USB-C port as a fallback, but doing so casts into doubt the feasibility of the whole enterprise.
In the moments when solar charging is more of a hassle than the alternative, then the argument for its convenience begins to feel a little hazy.
When it comes to looks, the RPT-02 SOL put a fresh spin on the familiar. Conventional in form, though not necessarily in style, Adidas' ambitious on-ear headphones wrap around the top of your head and blast tunes and talk into your ears via a pair of 40mm dynamic drivers.
Every part of the package that's familiar comes accompanied by something fresher. There's the usual USB-C port on the right earcup. There's a less by-the-numbers light sensor on the opposite end of the headband.
Adidas has veered away from touch or gesture controls here, opting to keep things simple and tangible. There's a classic power button on one ear cup. Then, there's a nifty omni-directional key on the other.
The latter is both neat and unique, providing sprawling functionality in an elegant and minimalist fashion. Essentially, it's a square-shaped button that can be nudged in one of four cardinal directions as a shortcut for familiar functions like pause, play, volume up, volume down and all the rest. The placement is a little awkward, and the scheme can take some getting used to, but the utility is hard to argue with. It's not pretty, but it is clever.
Rather than the usual blend of plastic and leather or memory foam, the bones of the Adidas RPT-02 SOL are mostly made from recycled materials. This bent towards sustainability gives the hardware here a different feel-factor than most of the alternatives. The specific physical qualities of the recycled plastic here are further emphasised through texturing on the exterior, as well as the outward-facing half of the headband.
Adidas has opted for thicker and more cloth-like thread padding on the earcups rather than the more elegant mesh wraps found elsewhere. This padding also extends to the underside of the headband. All told, these touches lend the RPT-02 SOL a different look and vibe than most other headphones playing in the same space.
What's more, these distinct looks don't come at any meaningful cost to durability. In line with many of the other active-oriented audio options out there, the Adidas RPT-02 SOL are rated IPX4 for water resistance.
Adidas RPT-02 SOL - Sound quality and comfort
Unfortunately, battery life isn't everything.
The Adidas RPT-02 SOL aren't all that comfortable or practical to wear over longer stretches. During workouts, they often slipped off my ears and often induced the sort of soreness that most modern over-ear solutions seem to have solved.
I haven't yet encountered issues with the fabric design as it concerns sweat, but it's definitely something I'd worry about over the long run given that these are the kind of headphones that Adidas seem to want you to work out in. The ear cushions and headband on the RPT-02 SOL can be removed and washed, so you'll want to make sure you do that with some regularity.
These fit-related shortcomings aside, I was pleasantly surprised at just how decent the Adidas RPT-02 SOL sounded in action. Despite the absence of any formal noise cancellation tech, the headphones mostly delivered the goods when it came to audio.
My recent working-from-home experience has been punctuated by plenty of loud construction noises and the Adidas RPT-02 SOL were more than capable of replacing that cacophony with something a little more pleasant on the ears.
Subject to the usual testing routine, the RPT-02 SOL fared reasonably well. Adidas' solar-powered headphones proved capable of rendering the trebled tones of Portishead's "Humming", and navigating Opeth's "The Funeral Portrait" and the chaotic soundscapes it presents.
Unfortunately, these sonic strengths weren't always replicated elsewhere. The RPT-02 SOL struggled to do justice to Deftfone's "Swerve City" and "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone.
The Adidas RPT-02 SOL are bound to leave audiophiles wanting, but they mostly sufficed for my purposes when it came to sound quality. They produced decent results, but the fact that they do it without noise cancelling (and alongside their trademark trick) leaves you wanting to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Are the Adidas RPT-02 SOL worth buying?
The fact Adidas made solar-powered headphones is awesome. The final product is uneven, but the core appeal that comes with the combination of light-based charging and wireless audio here is more or less delivered.
Unfortunately, it's a testament to just how good battery life and fast charging have become that this central feature doesn't feel like the breakthrough it ought to. Adidas' RPT-02 SOL are bringing plenty of battery life to the table, but it hardly feels like the feast of convenience it should be.
Still, the Adidas RPT-02 SOL delivering on the biggest promises they make may be enough for some. Reliable sound quality should keep users happy enough, even if the variable comfort level may irk them over time.
The Adidas RPT-02 SOL are exceptional headphones but struggle to balance the upsides of ambition with the inherent unevenness.
How do the Adidas RPT-02 SOL compare?
|See it at Amazon
|See at Amazon
|See at Amazon
|See at Amazon
|See it at Amazon
|See at Amazon
|See it at Amazon
How we review over-ear headphones
When we review over-ear wireless headphones, there are five main considerations:
- Sound: Do they sound good? Audio quality is pretty important for headphones, after all.
- Comfort & Design: Are they comfortable to wear over extended periods of time?
- Features: How long does the battery last? Is the connectivity reliable? Is the noise-cancelling good?
- Vibe: What's the overall experience?
- Value: Are they good for the money?
While audio products can be quite subjective for many reasons, we have standardised testing procedures across the team designed to help us look at the category in a consistent way. You can read more about how we review over-ear headphones here.