A couple of weeks after the official reveal of Apple’s second generation AirPods, the company’s Beats developers have revealed a new pair of wireless earbuds in the market. The new Powerbeats Pro $249.95 are shipping in May and are Beats’ most significant product of the year. Maybe, this is going to be a thing that most people will like more than AirPods 2nd generation. They offer longer battery life, they seal fully in your ears without letting in outside noise, they include the same Apple H1 chip as the latest AirPods for hands-free “Hey Siri” voice commands, and yes, to my ears, the Powerbeats Pro sounded better during my brief introduction to them.
Beats says their new earbuds are the most popular fitness earbuds in the world and the new model features the new earbuds with new design between the two buds. They retain their style and whole design, but its not just the wire off; it redesigned the whole product to a wireless design. The Pros are 23 percent smaller and 17 percent lighter than the previous ones and Beats is offering a variety of colors beyond white, such as black, white, dark green and navy.
The pros of the Powerbeats Pro
- Battery life: Beats says the new Powerbeats can reach up to nine hours of continuous listening. That’s no match for the best earbuds out there, even the Beats own Solo 3s, but if it is accurate this would be an exceptional upgrade for wireless earbuds. Nine hours handily beats the AirPods, Galaxy Buds, Jabra Elite 65t, and the rest of the field. The charging case can also make your battery juice last at least for 24 hours in total.
- Apple H1 chip: Just like AirPods second-generation, Powerbeats include the H1 chip for hands-free “Hey Siri” and quicker switching between Apple devices.
- Comfort: Beats aimed for a more comfortable and secure fit and I personally think they nailed that. Wrapping the ear hook around your ear might seem a little awkward, but once they’re in the Powerbeats Pro don’t leave a noice to hear. On the running the buds are steady and they still don’t leave an outside noice in your ear. We will sure won’t judge them with the older Powerbeats earbuds. Beats says “over 20 configurations were electronically modeled and physically tested. The result is a completely new, ergonomically angled acoustic housing that nests comfortably in the concha bowl of the ear with an off-axis nozzle.” With the four sets of ear tips, you surely will find the perfect seal for your ear or something close to it.
- Physical controls: When talking about buttons and controls, the Powerbeats have identical buttons for volume and track controls. You don’t have to worry about weird gestures and tapping zones during your workout, as there’s no fuss controls. No power button exists, but the earbuds contain motion sensors that automatically puts them into sleep mode when idle.
- Automatic pause and resume: Like the AirPods, both Powerbeats Pro earbuds connect to each other and they will pause if one earbud is off and the music or podcast will continue playing after its back on your ear.
- Independent connection: Like the AirPods, Powerbeats Pro earbuds connect to your device independently. Many other wireless buds use a linked system where your one earbud is connected to your device and the other one to your other earbud. This limits the usage only one side for phone calls, for example. With the Powerbeats you can connect one earbud, if you want and you’re set.
The cons of the Powerbeats pro
- Large charging case: It’s very clear that Beats wants users to keep the charging case for the Powerbeats Pro in a bag; whether it’s your gym or a daily use bag. But the case is larger than we thought. It’s hard to surpass AirPods’s charging case and we’ve got to factor in the ear hooks on the Powerbeats Pro, which demand a larger case. Still, this is bigger than the Beats competition. So, if you wanted to squeeze that case somewhere into your pocket, it will be uncomfortable.
- No wireless charging: If we could say one thing about comparing both AirPods and Powerbeats Pro its would be that. Powerbeats Pro doesn’t support Qi wireless charging.
- No charging indicator: The AirPods also don’t have this, so you shouldn’t be surprised. Some earbuds do have an LED indicator which shows the cases and the buds remaining battery. Checking the battery level for the earbuds themselves requires flipping the case and near open your device; a menu will pop up to show your current battery status of your earbuds and the case. You will also see the percentage whenever you’re using them in your iOS battery widget.
- Not good water-resistant rate: Beats isn’t disclosing an IPX water resistance rating for the Powerbeats Pro, but the company insists they’ve been engineered to handle all of your sweat without fail. (The charging case is NOT water resistant, so you’ll need to wipe down your earbuds after your workout if they’re sweaty).
The whole sound design and style for the earbuds is very positive. ” The Powerbeats Pro put a lot of oomph behind The Hold Steady and my rock-centric workout playlist.”, as The Verge states. They exhibited a really nice dynamic range and wide sound stage as we shuffled through the library over the course of a couple of minutes. Yes, there’s an emphasis on bass. And no, no one’s going to confuse these with neutral studio headphones.
If you want Beats’ take on the sound, here’s that: “Completely re-engineered from the inside out, the earphones boast an upgraded linear piston driver that leverages an efficient, pressurized airflow to create a powerful acoustic response in a small package.”
- Case charges with Lightning: Beats put a Lightning jack on the Powerbeats Pro case instead of USB-C. It’s not the first time the company has done this; the Beats X also use Lightning. I can see reasonable arguments on both sides here: if you’ve got an iPhone, you’ve obviously got a Lightning cable at the ready. But isn’t USB-C the future? Either way, the Powerbeats Pro can still charge plenty fast. Beats says you can get an hour and a half of playback with a 5-minute charge and four and a half hours after a 15-minute top off.
- Call quality is supposed to be excellent: Lousy voice calls are a common complaint with true wireless earbuds. Check out my colleague Becca’s video review of the Galaxy Buds for just one example of that. The AirPods’ long stem helps out tremendously here. But Beats came up with its own solution: it put both speech-detecting accelerometers (to sense when your mouth is moving) and two beam-forming mics in each earbud that should be able to pull in your voice and block outside noise reasonably well. I haven’t tested it yet, so I can’t vouch, but I’m optimistic.
- They work fine with Android: The Powerbeats Pro are compatible with Android, of course, and Beats says you can expect the same battery life of up to nine hours on a charge. A Lightning charging port is a little inconvenient, but there’s nothing you’re really losing out on aside from Apple-only features like “Hey Siri.”
THESE OR AIRPODS?
Beats (and by extension Apple) view the Powerbeats Pro as complementary to the AirPods — not a direct threat. They’re in a different price bracket ($250 versus $159 or $200). They isolate sound, which some people will prefer but others will not. If you frequently run outside on busy city streets and like being aware of what’s happening, that might be a deciding factor. The Powerbeats Pro don’t have any kind of ambient noise mode to pipe in outside audio.
But if AirPods don’t fit you well or if you do want to block out surrounding noise, the Powerbeats Pro are looking very impressive out of the gate. That nine-hour battery life sets a new bar for true wireless earbuds. They fit snugly and securely.
WHERE DO THEY FIT IN TERMS OF PRICING?
The Powerbeats Pro are firmly in the high-end tier of true wireless earbuds. They’re not the most expensive, but they’re certainly up there.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8: $299.99
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless: $299.95
Master and Dynamic MW07: $299
Beats Powerbeats Pro: $249.95
Sony WF-1000X: $199.99
Apple AirPods with wireless charging case: $199
Bose SoundSport Free: $199
Sony WF-SP700N: $179.99
Jabra Elite 65t: $169
Apple AirPods with regular case: $159
Samsung Galaxy Buds: $129
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air: $79
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