In Review: The Urbanista Phoenix earbuds

One of my biggest pet peeves is folks who listen to their phone speakers on public transit. I’ve posited, probably incorrectly, that because most phones no longer have headphone jacks, people buy Bluetooth headsets, forget to charge them, and then play Candy Crush at full volume while simultaneously playing YouTube videos of Mongolian Throat Singers on LSD. The results, as you can imagine, are infuriating.

That’s why I like the Urbanista Phoenix earbuds. These $149 earbuds are standard in terms of sound quality but they are powered via a dark solar panel on the back side of the case. This means no matter where you are you can keep your headphones charged and your throat singing blasting without annoying others.

The whole kit is probably twice as large as a set of AirPods and the earbuds sit inside the black case quite snugly. One side of the device is completely covered with a solar panel, something Urbanista calls Powerfoyle, a solar charging material that won’t crack like traditional solar panels. The device has a 34-hour power reserve and the earbud runs for 8 hours on a charge. The entire is a bit bigger than I would have liked but you can leave it on your desk to charge or, if you’re in a dark room, you can charge it via USB-C.

As for audio quality, I’m going to give this a 6 or 7 out of 10. It’s definitely not an audiophile device but for $115 you’re basically buying a pair of earbuds that will never lose charge, even on the run. The headphones have touch controls and there is an app to check to see how much charge you have and how well the devices are charging.

Are the Urbanista Phoenix good headphones?

Urbanista makes solid, middle-of-the-road but stylish headphones. Their MO is to create audio gear that looks great and runs well. Their Los Angeles series is very nice and their latest model, the Hugo, also features solar charging. If you’re particularly fashion-conscious, you’re going to love their products.

Audio lovers won’t have much to dislike here, either. The earbuds sound good, have nice bass response, and pair easily. You won’t hear Charlie Parker coughing softly before he plays on Sketches of Spain but you’re going to hear the music just fine. You’re paying for the features and design and the audio is a bonus.

That said, these are great little earbuds and I’d love to be able to pass them out to folks on the subway who are intently watching car crashes at full volume on Samsungs with cracked screens.


Always charging when exposed to indoor & outdoor light
Hybrid active noise cancelling
Transparency mode
Multipoint connection
Playtime 8 hours
34 hours battery reserve
Noise reducing microphones
Automatic in-ear detection
Water resistant IPX4 earphones
Bluetooth® 5.2
App support


Drivers type: 10mm dynamic, moving coil
Driver impedance: 16 Ohm ±15%
Sensitivity: 97 ±3 dB SPL/mW @ 1kHz
Frequency response: 20 Hz to 20 kH
Microphone type: MEMS
Bluetooth® version: 5.2
Bluetooth® profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
Audio codecs: SBC and AAC

John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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