Apple’s new Powerbeats Pro earbuds cost almost $100 more than the new AirPods, but they may be worth the splurge. Here’s what sets them apart.
The AirPods 2 has a new wireless earbud rival called the Powerbeats Pro. Within two weeks of launching the second-gen AirPods 2, Apple debuted the Powerbeats Pro, a truly wireless version of its existing Powerbeats 3 and a sportier alternative to the AirPods. At $250 they don’t come cheap, but they do offer a few added features that you won’t find on the AirPods.
To help you figure out which ones will be the right fit, we took a look at the specs and put together a rundown of the biggest differences between the AirPods and the Powerbeats Pro.
Don’t feel like reading this entire article? Here’s the spoiler version: Buy the AirPods 2 if you need your buds right now because they’re the only ones that you can actually order today. The Powerbeats aren’t scheduled to ship until May, so if you’re willing to wait, keep reading.
Despite the fact that Apple makes both of them, each bud has a totally different design. The AirPods are sleek and functional, while the Powerbeats are sporty and clunky, but with a tighter fit.
If you’re using them as everyday buds during your commute or at the office, the lighter feel of the AirPods might be ideal. But if you’re going to be working out, the Powerbeats have the upper hand. Their in-ear tips and over-the-ear hooks should help them hold on tighter than the AirPods during intense workouts, while their water-resistant exterior can handle the sweat that comes with the territory. They were made with athletes in mind.
The AirPods only come in glassy white, while the Powerbeats Pro come in matte white, navy, moss and black with a black charging case for all three colors. And that charging case is huge. It’s roughly three times the size of the AirPods case and will feel a lot bulkier in your pocket. They both charge with a lightning cable, but with the AirPods you can pay extra to get a wireless charging case. The Powerbeats Pro don’t give you that option.
At $250, the Powerbeats Pro cost almost $100 more than a pair of $160 AirPods 2 with the traditional (non-wireless) charging case. The AirPods with the wireless charging case cost $200 and the wireless charging case on its own is $80. The Powerbeats don’t have a wireless charging case option.
But if sound quality is your main concern, the Powerbeats might be worth the extra 90 bucks.
Though we haven’t tested them yet, we know that the closed design of the previous Powerbeats3 was good at isolating sound and we’re hoping the same is true of the Powerbeats Pro, which have a similar in-ear design. The more open design of the AirPods lets in more ambient noise. This may make it a better fit during commutes, when you want to be aware of your surroundings.
But it’s not just about the fit. Apple says sound quality was its top priority when creating the Powerbeats Pro.
In terms of call quality, both claim to be able to filter out ambient noise during calls, but we’ll have to test that out for ourselves to figure out if one is better than the other in this category.
Both buds have Apple’s new H1 chip under the hood, which brings Bluetooth 5 support and allows for seamless integration with iOS devices for easy paring and quickly switching between all your Apple devices. You can summon Siri with just your voice to turn up the volume or control your music on both and they have sensors that detect when you’ve taken them out of your ear to pause and play your music automatically.
The AirPods let you play and pause songs or skip forward by double tapping the sides of the buds, while the Powerbeats have physical buttons that do the same and also let you adjust the volume.
They both work on iOS devices, but you’ll lose out on some of the pairing features and the hands-free voice assistant.
If you’re considering the battery as the combined package, the AirPod buds and the charging case will give you about 24 hours of listening time according to Apple. But if you’re looking at the buds individually, the Powerbeats Pro will outlast the AirPods by about four hours. They’ll hold out for nine hours of listening time compared with five hours on the AirPods.
They also give you a decent amount of charge in a matter of minutes, according to Apple. Five minutes’ charge translates into about an hour and a half of listening time for the Powerbeats, while the AirPods will get you closer to one hour for the same five minutes of charge. Note that we still have to run our own battery tests to confirm these numbers.
We will also be conducting more real-world testing of both these buds once the Powerbeats launch officially in May.