Bluetooth 5.0, Class 1
Apple's H1 chip allows for much greater flexibility
Isolation not great
Apple and Beats fans can finally marvel at a great pair of true wireless earbuds. While these are $100 more than the AirPods, they sound significantly better and provide a more stable fit. If you’re on the fence, there are plenty of reasons to take the plunge and invest in Beats.
Read the in-depth review by SoundGuys
Editor’s note: this review was updated on November 7, 2019, to address the new Apple AirPods Pro.
What are the Beats Powerbeats Pro like?
These are how true wireless earbuds should have been designed from the start. The unobtrusive ear hooks take the pressure off the ear canal for a more balanced, stable fit. Additionally, the dedicated nozzles make these sound infinitely better than the AirPods.
Battery life is impeccable: these provide just under 11 hours of playback on a single charge.
The earbuds sport a minimalist design and come in four colors: black, ivory, navy, and moss. Don’t let the clean look fool you, though; these are packed to the gills with sensors. Both housings have proximity sensors which automatically pause media playback when the earbuds are removed. Plus, the microphone array uses accelerometers to detect when you’re speaking. The same sensors automatically power the earbuds off when dormant.
Controls are a bit different than the AirPods as the Powerbeats Pro have tactile volume rockers for each earbud, while holding the “b” symbol lets you deny incoming calls. These also benefit from the new H1 chip, so hands-free Siri access is enabled.
The H1 chip is also responsible for the Powerbeat Pro’s insane battery life. Listeners get 10 hours, 52 minutes of playback on a single charge when used with an iPhone XS Max, which is remarkable for true wireless technology. The case holds an additional 1.5 charges, allowing for more than 24 hours of playback. It also supports fast charging whereby five minutes in the case affords 1.5 hours of playback.
Although the Powerbeats Pro aren’t waterproof, they are IPX4-certified. You can’t submerge them, but they should withstand any terrestrial workouts. If you’re an iPhone-using athlete, these are the best workout earbuds you can get. The fit is more stable than the Jabra Elite 65T and integrated volume controls can’t be found on Jabra’s earbuds. That said, if you prioritize durability and value, the Elite 65T earbuds are the smarter pick.
Related: Are the AirPods 2 worth it?
How do the Powerbeats Pro sound?
The Powerbeats Pro support the AAC Bluetooth codec and sound good. Beats’ bass-heavy sound is recognizable yet inoffensive. Much of the bass response is attributed to the nozzles and ear tips. By creating a proper seal, outside noise is less likely to undermine low-end reproduction. This makes your music more clear.
Highs also receive a nice boost, which makes treble notes easier to hear above vocals and general instrumental noise. Vocals and string instruments sound about three-quarters as loud as bass and treble notes. While this doesn’t matter much for athletes who just want a strong beat to follow, it may be aggravating for casual listening. Most consumers will thoroughly enjoy the Powerbeats Pro’s sound signature, though.
The distinct nozzles make the Powerbeats Pro sound remarkably better than the AirPods.
If you’re taking calls with the Powerbeats Pro, voice transmission is clear enough. Those with particularly low voices will sound a little muffled. Even then, however, the inaccuracy is bearable. Wind noise is filtered out fairly well by the downward-facing microphones, making these great for on-the-go calls.
Should you buy the Powerbeats Pro?
The Powerbeats Pro remedy the AirPods’ (2019) most offensive flaws. Fit is no longer an issue and bass reproduction actually sounds good. That said, they are $100 more than the second-generation AirPods with a standard charging case. Athletes and anyone sick of having their iPhone earbuds fall out of their ears may find the trade-off justifiable. If you can stomach the Powerbeats Pro’s price, they’re absolutely worth it. The Apple AirPods Pro noise canceling true wireless earbuds are appealing, too: they include a wireless charging case, feature dedicated nozzles, and are jam-packed with sensor technology. The ANC technology can’t outperform the Sony WF-1000XM3 when it comes to low-end attenuation, but nonetheless, the IPX4 sweat-resistant AirPods Pro are the best Apple total wireless earbuds to date.