CES 2023 – Urbanista Brings Solar Charging With Phoenix Ear Buds

A couple weeks ago, I reviewed the Urbanista Copenhagen ear buds, and I was pretty impressed. I liked the design, and how light weight they are, and the app was intuitive and easy to use. Today, I have another headset from Urbanista, the Phoenix.

Named for the notoriously sunny city in Arizona, it’s no surprise that this set features a solar powered charging case! Now, I’m skeptical of things that are solar powered, because they tend to have very weak panels. I spent a lot of time testing this case to see what was up, and I can honestly say it’s a really cool feature and worth picking up. But I’ll come back to the case later. Let’s get into it.

As far as form factor, physical design, etc, these have rubber ear buds that you can swap out for sizing options, and they fit the ear pretty well. These stay during most of my day, but with my sweaty ears and small canals, they do wiggle out after several hours. But it’s a quick tuck and rotate for a fix, compared to other brands that need a full wipe and ear position reset, so I’ll take it!

During moderate activity, I’ve had no real issues with them falling out and IPX4 means they won’t get ruined by sweat. I definitely give these the workout approval! And as far as ANC goes, these don’t block *all* the sound, but I’m able to play music and not be distracted while writing this article as my 4 year old destroys the living room.

Using the app is seamless, as usual. The same app is used for all the Urbanista products, and connecting the ear buds to it is as simple as wearing even one while the app is open. It connects automatically and has all the features this specific product uses automatically populated on the screen, ready to customize. Set the long press feature for each ear bud to do whatever you want them to do, whether it’s activating your voice assistant, adjusting volume, or toggling between ANC and transparency modes. You can also set it to do nothing, so when you put them loose in your pocket for a second, you’re not accidentally calling your mother-in-law while talking smack about her to your friends.

And even though I have a bad habit of tucking them into my pocket, the buds pop easily into the rechargeable case, which happens to be the world’s first self-charging case, making these ear buds truly wireless.

That being said, the solar panels don’t draw *a ton* of power, but they do draw enough to make it worth while. Urbanista’s claim is that this case will charge even in artificial light, meaning the soul crushing florescents in your office are supposed to actually do some good. I called cap on that and really tested the crap out of this. In the app, you can track how much charge the case is getting, and even see how much charge it gets over the last week, with a distinction between solar and plug charging, so I used this to perform all my testing.

In direct, full sunlight, outdoors, this case can pull 15-20mA. In a sunny window, that number is around 12mA. I tested this feature during the unprecedented rainfall in California just to see what would happen if you lived somewhere where this kind of weather is normal, and a cloudy day nets you a very sad 2-3mA. So if clouds do that poorly, what does artificial light look like? Maybe 1mA, if you put it close to the bulb. Now this isn’t to say that Urbanista is pulling wool over our eyes. They’re technically right. It does actually charge in artificial light. Just not very well.

So what does this mean? Is it even a good enough feature to care about? Well, in my opinion, yes. I like this feature a lot because the draw of electricity to charge devices isn’t the best for the environment and as small an impact as it is, it’s still nice to reduce your carbon footprint. Additionally, if you like to camp or hike, you can wear the case around your neck or strap it to your backpack and charge as you go. It extends the life of that charging pack by enough per hour to make this worthwhile. I wear at least one bud weekdays from 4pm until 11pm, and weekends from 9am until 11pm (what can I say, I like to watch TikTok and not bug the people around me), placing them in the case nightly and leaving the case in a South-facing window. The pack on its own has 32 hours of charge time in it, and I didn’t have to plug it into a cable for 2 weeks of that daily use and nightly charging.

My overall impression? I love these. I love the case, I love the design, I love the app. Even if the charge isn’t great indoors, I’m still very impressed by this solar case.

Hopefully this review helped you out! Please stay tuned for more reviews down the line and pick up your own Urbanista Pheonix Here.

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