Adidas is so confident in its ‘Powerfoyle’ solar charging technology that it ships the Bluetooth RPT-02 SOL headphones without a charging cable.
What could be worse than a charley horse halfway into a run? The answer incessantly beeped in my ear as my wireless earbuds alerted me their time was nigh.
Up to the point, I had a great stride and was cruising on what would be one of my last summer runs. But with my legs outlasting my headphones, that vibe was gone. And I was stuck with the ambient sounds of distant ambulance sirens, nearby road construction, and the “swoo-swee” of my running shorts.
This wasn’t a one-off either. As much as I enjoy running and recreating with music or a podcast, there’s always a chance the battery will die (and having made the jump from corded headphones, I will not go back).
Adidas realized this and this summer offered up a solution: solar-charging headphones. For the last 2 months, I’ve been testing the RPT-02 SOL on-ear headphones.
And in that time, I plugged them to recharge exactly once. The rest of that charge, after near-daily use, came from sunlight. If these seem too good to be true, read on for the full rundown of what I thought.
In short: If you think the idea of wireless Bluetooth headphones that almost never run out of battery sounds like a fallacy, think again. Over the last 8+ weeks of testing, I plugged the RPT-02 SOL in only once to fully recharge. Most of the time, the power drain inside the headphones was either mitigated by sunlight, or the battery actually went up with use. But they aren’t perfect for everything and they come at a high price. So consider these a worthy investment if they match your lifestyle.
adidas RPT-02 SOL Wireless Solar-Charging Headphones Review
I was immediately impressed by these headphones even before putting them on. Opening the box, it was clear adidas wanted to make a big statement — the brand doesn’t even include a charging cable in the package.
That’s right, if these run out of juice, you’d better have a USB-C cable lying around (or wait until morning to use them again). But the message is clear: These really do charge from the sun.
If you’ve used any wireless Bluetooth earbuds or headphones, you’ll probably manage to navigate the RPT-02 SOL intuitively. At the very least, you’ll likely be able to start listening right out of the box.
A control button sits on either side, and these should face backward when worn properly. Your master control rests on the right headphone. This is a “five-way” toggle, so you can press it up, down, left, right, and depress inward.
Up and down control volume, left and right advance or reverse tracks. Pressing the toggle inward controls play/pause, or answers calls.
On the left ear is your “action button.” Despite the name, I rarely used this feature. The button is programmable — sort of — in that you can assign it to play certain Spotify playlists. You cannot assign it to any app you please and, at least in my thorough attempt, it won’t control podcasts.
You can also set this button to perform different functions according to the number of times you press it. So one press will illuminate the built-in light meter to show you how strong the light is. Two presses can launch Spotify, and three will access voice assistant (“call Arlo”).
A quick note on the light meter: I never used this. I figure if I can see the light meter, I can see whether or not it’s bright outside. What’s more, this consists of three concentric rings and is not a precise quantitative measure of the charge — for that, you’ll need the app!
adidas Headphones App
You don’t need to download the corresponding headphones app to use or enjoy the headphones. I didn’t at first, and everything worked fine. But after I downloaded the app and paired the headphones, I recommend you do the same.
The app will allow you to customize your action button, set your equalizer according to your preferences, and most importantly, it will show you the battery level and whether your battery is draining or gaining milliamps.
And on a bright, sunny day, you will actually see your battery going up as you use them — wild!
Great for (Some) Activity
Because I’m accustomed to earbuds that rest within the ear, I questioned how much use I’d get from the on-ear RPT-02 SOL. I am happy to report that these headphones do a pretty good job hanging tough during activity.
For trail runs and jogs about town, they stayed put the vast majority of the time. Yes, a couple of times they started to slide back — but that was easy to fix with a little adjustment (the earphones each slide several notches up and down along the headband — and they can be adjusted individually).
I also wore these on the basketball court and found them OK, but not ideal. For serious high-output activities, these will not prove as stable as good earbuds.
On top of this, the headphones carry IPX4 water resistance. You can’t take them swimming and I wouldn’t recommend wearing them in a soaking rain. But they will stand up to sweat during hot days, no problem.
Fit & Feel
While these headphones remained very stable during testing and proved generally comfortable, I found they wore out their welcome after about an hour. These are not true over-the-ear headphones, in that they sit on your ear, but they don’t cover it.
This isn’t a problem for moderate periods of time, but I can marathon a podcast series while catching up on my weekend honey-do list. So, I noticed pressure points along the middle of my ear and tightness around the sides of my head.
Readjusting the fit and placement helped relieve this somewhat, but it has been the main issue for me in testing.
For audiophiles and electrical engineers, here are the gritty details.
adidas RPT-02 SOL Headphones
- Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Driver sensitivity: 105 ±3dB @1KHz 179mV 10mm
- Driver type: Dynamic
- Driver impedance: 32Ω ±15%
- Drivers: 40 mm
- Battery life: 80 hours (w/o sunlight); “close to” unlimited with adequate light
- Charging time (USB-C): 2 hrs.
- Range: 10 m
- Microphone: Yes
- Price: $229
While I am not an expert on audio or sound, I’ve used my fair share of headphones. The RPT-02 SOL offers rich, balanced sound — and with customizable EQ, I can fine-tune the experience to my preferences. Zero complaints.
Conclusion: Who Should Buy
If you can swing $229 for a pair of headphones, I think you’ll probably be very happy. That said, if you are willing to spend that much, you may have more distinguished audio preferences than I do.
But if the price is right and longevity is of primary concern, I can just about guarantee you’ll love these headphones. I imagine with the onset of winter, I’ll need to be more mindful of recharging these manually.
But with an 80-hour stored runtime and near-infinite charge in summer, it’s a no-brainer for me. The RPT-02 SOL works great for many of my outdoor activities, and so far works better the more I use them.
My Charley horses, on the other hand…