Music is magic: it can transform even a commuter journey between train and subway into a splendid moment. For this reason it is particularly annoying when, inserting the earphones in your ears, you realize that they are discharged. With the Urban planner Phoenix, which we tell you in this review, the problem will hardly arise: these earphones have, in fact, a great autonomy and a solar panel on the charging case. But there’s much more besides refilling: we’ll tell you about this unique product on the market, to understand if it’s right for you.
Our review of Urbanista Phoenix
True wireless earphones have seen exponential growth in recent years. We see them in the ears of students and professionals, for listening to playlists or podcasts, for those who enjoy audiobooks while relaxing, and for those who want to fuel up during a workout. But if it’s true that everyone wants them, not everyone has the same needs.
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In a price range full of tons of good quality products, the Urbanista Phoenix differ in one factor that is both practical and “aspirational”: solar charging. In addition to increasing autonomy, many may like it because it communicates attention to innovation and sustainability. But is it really an added value? In other words: is it a convenience to add to a pair of earphones that remain quality even without them? There are some things that we really liked about the Phoenix, while other aspects don’t shine compared to the competition: we tell you all about them, in order to help you in your choice according to your needs.
Design, ergonomics and (very large) solar case
I learn the ssimple (and eco-sustainable) package of the Urbanista Phoenix we tested for this review, we find a pretty complete package. In addition to two pairs of eartips (the “rubbers”) alternative to the basic ones, to better adapt to our ears, in the package we also find the USB-C charging cable and a lanyard to keep the charging case around the neck or tied to the backpack.
Something particularly comfortable, because keeping the Phoenix in your pocket does not allow you to take advantage of solar charging. And also because the case is large enough that not everyone will find it convenient to keep it in their trouser pockets.
Don’t get us wrong: we are not talking about colossal dimensions. But the charging case, while as thick as that of so many other rival earphones, turns out to be significantly larger. It covers the palm of our hand, is approximately half as wide and as tall as a smartphone with a 6.7-inch screen. So it fits in your pocket, but if you have to keep wallets, keys and other objects in it, it won’t fit comfortably.
However, it feels very light, like a ‘normal’ earphone case. So, beyond the first impact, in daily use we have not experienced any particular discomfort in using it. And the colour Desert Rose (there’s also a more classic Midnight Black) definitely impressed us – in a world where 90% of headphones are black or white, Urbanista has taken a different approach.
But what struck us most positively in this review is the ergonomic design of the headphones.
Very comfortable earphones
In itself, the look of the earphones is already seen: a short stem where we find the microphones and the contacts for recharging, a drop-shaped main body with other microphones and small speakers covered by silicone eartips. The only distinguishing notes are the color and the writing ‘Urbanista’ on the stem. But they are very light and well balanced, able to adapt very well to the shape of the ear (or at least, of our auricles).
The result is that we kept the earphones in our ears for an entire afternoon of away events, between trains and subways, and even a weekend morning cleaning up the house, without bothering us once. We also tried them running (they have IPX4 water and dust protection) and they look really good in the ear.
If more or less all earphones are “bearable” for an hour at the gym or on the go, the Urbanista Phoenix can stay in the ear all day without any problems. And they have the battery to do it.
Great autonomy, aided by solar charging
For our daily needs, autonomy like that of the Phoenix is overdoing it. We tested earbuds that last about four hours without recharging without real difficulty: putting the headphones back in the case, we were always able to listen to our podcasts, audiobooks and playlists.
But sometimes we have forgotten to charge the case, or we have sustained a particularly long journey due to some delay in the plane. In those borderline cases, we ran out of music. We couldn’t take any risks with the Urbanista Phoenix during testing for this review.
The autonomy declared on the site is eight hours, and we must say that even with active noise cancellation (ANC) in our tests we came close. If you’re used to being at your desk with some music in your ears, you’ll be able to cover the whole day without too many problems (especially if you put them back in the case during breaks).
The case adds 34 hours of playtime music to your headphones. And if you remember to keep them with the solar panel, present on only one side of the case, facing upwards, you can recharge them with both sunlight (much more effective) and ambient light.
Solar charging does not replace cable charging, but extends the range
Don’t think you can recharge the Phoenix from zero to a hundred only with the help of the star around which we all revolve: the solar panel is not needed to replace charging via USB-C. An hour of exposure to the sun allows you to extend the battery by the same amount of time. So, if, for example, you are on the beach during your holidays or tie the case to your backpack while hiking in the mountains, you can recharge the case and listen to your headphones without losing battery life.
This extends the time between one cable recharge and the next – so much so that after an intense week of testing we connected the earphones to a charger just for the sake of testing USB-C charging than out of a real need. With average use, you’ll need to plug them in a couple of times a month at most, once a week only if you’re listening more than six hours a day.
The writer does not need so much autonomy, but it is still a great convenience to have. And if battery life matters to you, the Phoenixes are hard to beat in this – or any – price range.
Urbanista Phoenix review: the sound quality
When reviewing earphones, we usually talk about the audio quality much earlier in the review – but solar charging is the Urbanista Phoenix’s differentiating feature. This, however, does not mean that Urbanista has given up on good music.
I 10mm dynamic drivers allow a good quality sound, even if the initial presets are a bit “flat”. Once you download the application, which unfortunately doesn’t have a manual equalizer, you can find more dynamic settings. If you crank up the bass too much, however, you risk stripping away a lot of overtones in the high and mid tones – our favorite preset during the test is called Energize, which also leaves some room for the high tones.
But we have to point out that the Phoenix don’t reproduce the different sonic layers as we would like. Some details are missing in complex songs such as Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys and Free by Florence + The Machine, as well as the powerful bass of Kendrick Lamar obscure the details of the production. Audiophiles might turn up their noses, but the quality is average and if you listen to less dynamic tracks (or don’t pay much attention to sonic details) you shouldn’t have any problems. Reproduction of podcasts and audiobooks, also thanks to the great convenience and autonomy of the Phoenix, is ideal.
Noise reduction and call quality
During the test dell’ANC for this review, Urbanista Phoenix didn’t make us scream at the miracle. In this price range, one can above all aim for ‘reduction’ rather than noise cancellation. But there are earphones that do it better. You will still hear loud outside noises – on a train you will hear whistles and announcements, even if muffled. But other people’s talk and traffic will disappear under the music tracks. A good resulteven if it is not the flagship feature of these earphones.
During calls we always heard the voice of our interlocutor clearly, who he could hear ours without any background noise. Even when we tried to make a call by following the vacuum cleaner robot around the house or in traffic. However, the cancellation of the background noise tends to give a “robotic” effect to the voice, for example by removing some of the hesitations at the end of the sentence and the midtones. But you have to really pay attention to feel this change.
Convenient functionality multipointwhich also allows you to connect to the PC for video calls: a really interesting plus point for this product with great autonomy.
Well made application and easy to use controls
The Urbanista Audio app, which we recommend downloading especially to manage equalizer presets, is really well done. Not only does it detect fast via the Bluetooth 5.2 le cuffie, but it also allows you to…