Urbanista Phoenix review: AirPods Pro alternative that never stop charging

in General Discussion
The Urbanista Phoenix are wireless solar-powered earbuds that never need to stop charging, and are a cheaper alternative to AirPods Pro with similar features and design.

Urbanista Phoenix
Urbanista Phoenix

With the warmer weather, you may want to go outside and do the activities you love while listening to music, primarily if they result in you being out for an extended period. You can take a battery pack, but that can be inconvenient.

Urbanista hopes to solve this problem by including very small solar panels outside the charging case for their earbuds. This is great for people concerned about their earbuds' battery status and who want to avoid carrying around an additional battery source.

While many features are identical to those of AirPods Pros, Urbanista has a different priority for the Phoenix. Though, for how they are priced, it might be a non-impactful deal-breaker to many.

Urbanista Phoenix design

The Urbanista Phoenix earbuds are designed like AirPods Pro but have a longer stem attached to them and are engraved with the Urbanista name.

Engraved earbud
Engraved earbud

These in-ear earbuds come with different ear tips that match the exterior color of the earbuds. They come in sizes ranging from small, medium, and large.

All sizes are included with your initial purchase, so you don't need to buy them extra. Switching out the ear tips is easy -- you pull the silicon tip-off, pull back the silicon cover on the replacement ear tip, and then insert the connector into the earbud itself.

Changing out ear tip
Changing out ear tip

The touch controls are blended into the stem, which may be hard to find when using the Phoenix earbuds for the first time. They are located on the top section of each earbud and are controlled with various taps, not pushes.

The Phoenix earbuds are equipped with MEMS microphones for voice calls and utilizing Siri on your devices.

Each of the Phoenix earbuds is water resistant with a rating of IPX4. An IP (Ingress Protection) rating is an international standard used to rate the degree of protection in electrical enclosures that protect against intrusion of objects, water, dust, or accidental contact.

Due to the solar panels, the color-matching charging case is noticeably bigger than traditional earbud cases. It is about two times bigger than the AirPods Pro's charging case.

Urbanista Phoenix magnetic earbud charging case
Urbanista Phoenix magnetic earbud charging case

The hinge on the case is sturdy -- which we appreciate -- and when putting the earbuds inside the case, they magnetically fall into place.

On the back of the charging case is the solar panel unit. The back is coated with a black-colored material that allows light to charge the inside battery.

Urbanista Phoenix rear solar panels
Urbanista Phoenix rear solar panels

A front button lets you reset and connect the headphones via Bluetooth 5.2.
On top of the button is a light that indicates the battery and pairing status.

  • Pulsing amber = battery is between 0% and 30%

  • Pulsing white = battery is between 30% to 100%

  • Solid white = battery is fully charged
Status light, connection button, and lanyard insert
Status light, connection button, and lanyard insert

A lanyard insert is located on the right side of the case. You can attach one you already have or the one included in the box that goes around your neck. Putting it around your neck may prevent you from losing the charging case and allow it to charge simultaneously if the solar panels face outwards.

Using the Urbanista Phoenix earbuds

When wanting to start listening to music, the Urbanista Phoenix earbuds will automatically connect to the last device they were paired with.

You can pair up to two devices to the earbuds, and with Multipoint Connection, you can seamlessly switch between the two connected devices effortlessly. This eliminates the need to unpair and reconnect when changing which one you want to be the primary audio source.

When placing the earbuds into your ears, you will hear a ping sound to confirm they are connected and ready to be used.

Paired with the noise reduction microphones incorporated, the Phoenix earbuds have Noise Cancelation and Transparency Mode built into them. You can change modes from the earbuds or the Urbanista app.

When changing modes, the earbuds will announce which one you are currently switching to, but it will interrupt the media you have actively playing.

To utilize controls from the earbuds, you tap the top of them with a two-tap or holding gesture. This differs from other earbuds that may use a one-tap or two-tap motion to control them.

Tapping on either earbud twice will play and pause media or answer and end phone calls. If you tap the left earbud twice, it will start over the song you are currently listening to, but if you double tap the right earbud, it will skip the current song.

Holding down the left earbud will activate Siri, and holding down the right earbud will change to either Default, Noise Cancellation, or Transparency Mode.

Just like with AirPods, the Phoenix earbuds have in-ear detection built in. This feature means the music will pause whenever you take out the earbuds, and when you put them back in, the music will automatically resume.

The connection range is excellent when using the Phoenix earbuds, and you can walk far from the media source without hearing distortion or breaking in the audio. We could travel to multiple rooms without losing the connection when testing this.

When watching videos with the Phoenix earbuds, there was no lag between the audio being played and the movement of the speaker's mouth when speaking.

If you do not use the earbuds for 30 minutes, they will automatically turn off to conserve battery.

Urbanista Phoenix battery and charging capabilities

The selling point for the Urbanista Phoenix earbuds is the capability to charge via indoor or outdoor sunlight due to the solar panels incorporated into the charging case. This is a unique feature that differentiates the Phoenix earbuds from the competition.

Solar charging case status
Solar charging case status

The earbuds are charged through the charging case that can be powered by the Powerfoyle solar cell material or the USB-C port on the bottom. Unfortunately, Qi wireless charging is not supported with the Phoenix earbuds.

Inside the charging case is a 400mAh battery, and inside each earbud is a 45mAh battery. The earbuds can perform eight hours of continuous playtime and reserve 34 hours of battery.

On top of the button located in the front of the charging case is a light that indicates the battery and pairing status.

  • Pulsing amber = battery is between 0% and 30%

  • Pulsing white = battery is between 30% to 100%

  • Solid white = battery is fully charged
A "low battery" message will indicate when less than 30 minutes of playtime remains in the battery.

Included USB-C charging cable
Included USB-C charging cable

A very short USB-C to USB-A charging cable is included should you want to recharge it from your laptop, power bank, or a wall adapter. However, due to the short length of the charging cable, it may be hard to charge it from a wall outlet, depending on its height.

Urbanista Phoenix sound quality

Sound quality is a significant factor when deciding if Urbanista Phoenix are proficient earbuds, and their sound quality is good... but there are a few caveats.

How you listen to the music can change depending on the EQ setting you have set within the Urbanista app. You can change the EQ presets to default, speech, bass boost, trebled boost, energized, or balanced.

EQ presets menu
EQ presets menu

The bass is very prominent when listening to music, and you can hear nearly every element the music is producing. The in-ear design blocks out a lot of background noise that can distract you from the music.

While the sound quality is good, the included features to improve the listening experience differ from the same proficiency. This is pointed out when using Noise Cancelation and Transparency Mode, which need some fine-tuning.

Noise Cancelation does block out the noise around you, but the difference between Default mode and it is close to none. This can be seen with the difference between how much noise each mode blocks out being very slim.

Transparency Mode is the biggest letdown because most of the sound around you is still blocked when the mode is on. The mode is only half-activated and can be compared to a mixture of Transparency Mode and Noise Cancelation.

Another area that was a letdown was changing the volume lev on your device. The earbuds do not adjust their volume when between 10% to 30% loudness. You only hear a significant difference when you turn up the volume above 50% loudness.

Dolby Atmos is not supported on Urbanista Phoenix earbuds. While sound will still play, you won't be able to take advantage of the surround sound the way you can with AirPods or Beats.

The Urbanista app

Urbanista Phoenix has an accompanying app allowing you to create bespoke sound profiles and offers further customization.

The app is easy to navigate and utilizes a swipe gesture interface to switch between menus to control different aspects of the earbuds and the app. However, you can only use the app if the headphones are connected and on. Once they are connected, you can dive in and see further information and set deeper customization.

Left: Battery status page. Middle: EQ presets page. Right: Charging history page.
Left: Battery status page. Middle: EQ presets page. Right: Charging history page.

The app allows live tracking, which monitors the device's gain and battery power drain. You can also use the app to see the current battery percentage of each earbud and the charging case.

When the earbuds are charging via the solar panels, you will see the strength of how much light the case is absorbing and the current charging case status.

Instead of switching modes via the earbuds, you can switch between them from within the app, which will still play a message to tell you what mode you are switching to. You can also change EQ presets to customize your listening experience further.

If you are interested in the earbuds and charging case's battery's health, a dedicated page will allow you to see Light Charging History within 24 hours, 30 days, or all the time. It will also tell you how long it's been since it last detected USB-C charging.

Tapping on the three lines in the upper left of the screen will guide you to the manuals of Urbanista devices, contact customer support, shop other Urbanista products, and access the FAQ for any questions.

Near AirPods Pro alternative

The Urbanista Phoenix earbuds are a great pair of headphones that offer a unique take on charging that you rarely see in other Bluetooth headphones.

Compared to AirPods Pro, the Phoenix earbuds come close in comfort in the ears and become unnoticeable when falling deep into music consumption. Once you get the hang of navigating the earbuds, the controls are easy to perform and remember.

Solar charging the earbuds is a neat feature and helpful when an outlet or power source is not around. However, it does charge slower than a wired source, so you should rely on something other than it as the primary way to charge the Phoenix earbuds.

Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode are great additions to the Phoenix earbuds, and while they work, they are half-baked. They do not output the same level of power you find in the AirPods Pro when utilizing the same features.

Urbanista Phoenix
Urbanista Phoenix

The Urbanista Phoenix is a very close comparison to the AirPods Pro with the near-similar features they offer and the style they present. Solar charging capabilities are a neat feature, but more is needed to attract people looking for premium earbuds.

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to the AirPods Pro, then the Urbanista Phoenix may be worth checking out, but if you already have a pair of AirPods or Beats, you shouldn't trade them in for these.

Urbanista Phoenix - Pros

  • Good sound quality

  • Comfortable fit

  • Easy to control

  • Solar charging

  • In-ear detection

  • Strong range strength

  • Very responsive controls

  • Prominent bass sound

  • In-line audio video playback

Urbanista Phoenix - Cons

  • Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode are half-baked

  • No Qi wireless charging

  • Big charging case

  • Limited volume range under 50%

  • Cannot change the volume from the earbuds

Rating: 3 out of 5

Where to purchase the Urbanista Phoenix

You can purchase the Urbanista Phoenix earbuds from their website for $149. They are currently available in Midnight Black and Desert Rose.

Urbanista Phoenix earbuds are also available from Amazon for $149. However, the Midnight Black model is on sale at a discounted $126.65 at the time of publication.

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