Beats Powerbeats Pro review: Beat it, AirPods


Update, September 28, 2020: This Beats Powerbeats Pro review was updated to address new features with the advent of iOS 14.

Athletic iPhone users search for the best workout earbuds ends with the Beats Powerbeats Pro. These earbuds use Apple’s H1 chip, feature an excellent ear hook design, and are water-resistant. Android users can enjoy these earbuds too and their Class 1 Bluetooth 5.0 support along with angled nozzles that are designed to stay in during your most extreme workouts.

What are the Beats Powerbeats Pro like?

Beats Powerbeats Pro in charging case, aerial view.

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.

A picture of the Beats Powerbeats Pro in a man's' hand.

The H1 chip is also responsible for the Powerbeats 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.

How do the Powerbeats Pro sound?

beats powerbeats pro frequency response

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.

Become an expert: Bluetooth codecs 101

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.

Beats Powerbeats Pro microphone demo:

Did the Beats Powerbeats Pro receive new features with iOS 14?

Yes, the Beats Powerbeats Pro can now automatically switch between and iPhone and iPad, so long as each device runs iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 respectively. If you’re listening to music on your iPhone but start playing a movie on your iPad, the Beats Powerbeats Pro will seamlessly switch from one device to the other. All devices in question must be associated with the same iCloud account in order for this to work.

Should you buy the Powerbeats Pro?

Beats Powerbeats Pro earbuds on a book.

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 more expensive 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.

Beats Powerbeats Pro

For workouts and exercising, the Beats Powerbeats Pro are some of the best true wireless earbuds you can buy.

Alternatively, consider the Beats Powerbeats and Apple AirPods Pro

Beats Powerbeats wireless workout earbuds tire

The Beats Powerbeats provide nearly all of the same benefits as the Powerbeats Pro but the earbuds are joined by a cable rather than using true wireless technology. The cable is comfortable and does a good job at staying out of the way when exercising. One of the omitted features not found with the standard Powerbeats is automatic ear detection. If you want to pause your music, you’ll have to do so manually before removing the earbuds. On the upside, battery life is great: SoundGuys clocked nearly 18 hours on a single charge.

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.

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