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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Apple in late October 2019 surprised us with an upgraded version of the AirPods called the AirPods Pro, which feature Active Noise Cancellation, superior sound quality, and an all-new design.

Apple's AirPods Pro are its second set of headphones to feature the "Pro" moniker, following the Beats-branded Powerbeats Pro earbuds that Apple released back in April 2019. In this guide, we'll go over all of the differences between the AirPods Pro and the Powerbeats Pro.

AirPods Pro Design vs. PowerBeats Pro Design

The AirPods Pro are designed for casual use, while the Powerbeats Pro are aimed specifically at those who are using them for workouts like running, biking, and trips to the gym.

Design wise, the AirPods Pro look similar to the AirPods 2 but with a much shorter stem and a tweaked body design that incorporates flexible silicone ear tips, a first for the AirPods line. The silicone ear tips snap right onto the base of the AirPods Pro, allowing for a comfortable fit and Active Noise Cancellation technology.


Apple designed the silicone tips of the AirPods Pro to ensure a comfortable fit in most ears, with the design aimed at conforming to the contours of each individual ear for a superior seal.

AirPods Pro have also been designed with what Apple is calling an "innovative vent system" that's meant to equalize pressure within the ear to minimize discomfort that's common in other in-ear designs.


Apple says that AirPods Pro will make you feel like there's nothing in your ears, and in testing, we have found the AirPods Pro to be more comfortable than the Powerbeats Pro, especially over long periods of use.

The Powerbeats Pro also use silicone ear tips much like the AirPods Pro, but they're designed for fitness, also incorporating earhooks that fit over the ears to secure them in place.

Powerbeats Pro come with four tip sizes, rather than three, also offering a customized fit for each user. ‌Powerbeats Pro‌ are meant to stay in the ears during vigorous activity, and Apple says that it tested over 20 designs before settling on the current design that fits most people.


AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro both come in charging cases. The AirPods Pro charging case is larger than the charging case for the AirPods 2, but it's still quite a lot smaller than the case for the Powerbeats Pro, which is huge.


The Powerbeats Pro clamshell-style case is much larger because it has to incorporate the earhooks, which makes it almost unpocketable. The AirPods Pro case fits comfortably in a pocket.

Active Noise Cancellation

One of the key features of the AirPods Pro is Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), and this marks the first time that Apple has built ANC technology into earbuds. The feature has been previously used in over-ear Beats headphones, but not earbuds, including the Powerbeats Pro.

The Powerbeats Pro have silicone ear tips and offer noise isolation properties, but noise isolation is nowhere near as powerful as Active Noise Cancellation.


ANC uses two microphones and Apple's software algorithms to adapt sound to each user's ears. One microphone is outward-facing and designed to detect external sound to let the AirPods Pro analyze and cancel out environmental noise, while a second inward-facing microphone listens to sounds towards the ear to fine tune the noise cancellation.

AirPods Pro with Active Noise Cancellation can drown out a lot more sound than the Powerbeats Pro with simple noise isolation.

AirPods Pro also have a Transparency mode that's designed to tweak the Active Noise Cancellation algorithms so that you can continue to hear what's going on around you, useful for situations like commuting, listening for traffic, and more.

There is no Powerbeats Pro feature for filtering in ambient noises, which is something to be aware of as the Powerbeats Pro can drown out exterior sound with the volume turned up high enough.

Sound Differences

When announcing the Powerbeats Pro, Apple said that sound was a focus. The Powerbeats Pro are designed to offer powerful, balanced audio with pure sound reproduction, enhanced clarity, and improved dynamic range.


Superior sound is also a selling point of the AirPods Pro, and the AirPods Pro have an Adaptive EQ feature.

Adaptive EQ tunes the low- and mid-frequencies of music that's playing to the shape of each person's ear for what Apple says is a rich and immersive listening experience.


The AirPods Pro feature a custom high dynamic range amplifier to produce pure, clear sound, along with a custom high-excursion low-distortion speaker driver that optimizes audio quality and removes background noise.

In our testing, we didn't find a significant difference in sound quality between the Powerbeats Pro and the AirPods Pro, as both offer sound that's quite good. The Powerbeats Pro are a bit warmer and slightly more bass heavy whereas the AirPods Pro sound more neutral to our ears.

AirPods Pro have less bass, but the sound profile allows all of the instruments to be heard clearly and distinctly.

Physical Buttons

The AirPods Pro feature a Force Sensor on the stem, a control method that's unique compared to the Powerbeats Pro and the AirPods 2.


The Force Sensor supports press-based gestures, so you can press once to play or pause music, press twice to skip forward on a track, press three times to skip backwards, or press and hold to switch between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode.


The Powerbeats Pro are quite a bit larger than the AirPods Pro and thus have the space for physical buttons. There are buttons for adjusting volume, changing the song track, and accepting or declining an incoming call.

The AirPods Pro have no on-device option for adjusting the volume, and that's something that needs to be done using a connected device.

Water Resistance

AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro both feature IPX4 water resistance, which means they can hold up to water splashing against the enclosure from any direction, but can still fail when immersed in water.

With an IPX4 water resistance rating, the AirPods Pro and the Powerbeats Pro can survive sweat exposure, but rain, swimming pools, and other excessive moisture should be avoided.

Apple's warranties do not cover water or sweat damage, which is something to be aware of.

Powerbeats Pro Colors vs. AirPods Pro Colors

Despite rumors suggesting the AirPods Pro would come in multiple colors, Apple only released them in white.


Powerbeats Pro‌ come in Black, Ivory (an off white shade), Navy, and Moss (an olive green). ‌AirPods Pro‌ also feature a white charging case while all ‌Powerbeats Pro‌ models ship with a black charging case.

Price Difference

Powerbeats Pro are priced at $249, as are AirPods Pro, but you can often find deals that drop the price of the Powerbeats Pro by $50.

Processor, Sensors, and ‌Siri‌ Support

AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro both use Apple's H1 chip, offering simple setup, fast switching between devices, low latency, and hands-free "Hey Siri" support.


‌Powerbeats Pro‌ and AirPods Pro have all of the same sensors and features that come with the H1 chip, including ear detection that plays/pauses music appropriately based on position.


The H1 chip in the AirPods Pro has a unique design because it was engineered to be in the shape of the AirPods Pro earbud, with the design dictating the internal component arrangement instead of the other way around.

Phone Calls

AirPods Pro feature a speech-detecting accelerometer and beamforming microphones designed to filter out noise when you're making a phone call or a Siri request, and Powerbeats Pro also have a similar feature.

Both earbuds have dual beamforming microphones, with the microphones in the Powerbeats Pro positioned on each side to make up for the lack of a stem like the AirPods Pro have.

Calls on both the AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro are crisp, clear, and sound great with little difference between them.

Battery Life

Battery life is the main area where the Powerbeats Pro have a significant edge over the AirPods Pro.

Each Powerbeats Pro earbud offers nine hours of listening time, a full four and a half hours longer than the AirPods Pro promise.

AirPods Pro offer 4.5 hours of battery life when Active Noise Cancellation is turned on, or five hours of battery life when it's turned off.

Both the AirPods Pro and the Powerbeats Pro have battery cases that extend battery life to over 24 hours, but you can get much longer listening time with the Powerbeats Pro.

Live Listen

Powerbeats Pro‌ and ‌AirPods Pro‌ both support the Live Listen feature for using the earbuds as a directional microphone.


The AirPods Pro and the AirPods Pro Wireless Charging Case can be charged using the included USB-C to Lightning cable or a Qi-based wireless charger.


The Powerbeats Pro case does not support Qi-based wireless charging and must be charged with a Lightning cable.

The ‌Powerbeats Pro‌ have a Fast Fuel feature that adds 1.5 hours of music playback after five minutes of charging and 4.5 hours of playback after 15 minutes of charging.

The AirPods Pro also have a fast charging feature that offers around an hour of listening or talk time after charging for five minutes.

Comparison Chart

Here's an at-a-glance comparison chart that gives a quick overview of the differences between the ‌AirPods‌ Pro and the ‌Powerbeats Pro‌.


Bottom Line

With the same $249 price point, the AirPods Pro are superior to the Powerbeats Pro because of the Active Noise Cancellation feature.

For casual, everyday use, the AirPods Pro edge out the Powerbeats Pro, but for athletes and those who need the secure fit of earhooks and the much longer battery life, the Powerbeats Pro win out.

Fit is subjective, so some people may prefer the fit of the Powerbeats Pro over the AirPods Pro or may not care about Active Noise Cancellation.

The AirPods Pro are smaller and more convenient to carry and offer wireless charging, while the Powerbeats Pro come in more colors.

Choosing between AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro will ultimately come down to the fit that you prefer and the set of features that you want.

More Info

For more details on the ‌Powerbeats Pro‌, make sure to check out our full Powerbeats Pro guide, and for more info on the AirPods Pro, make sure to check out our AirPods Pro roundup.

We also have a comparison between the AirPods and AirPods Pro and the Powerbeats Pro and AirPods.

Guide Feedback

Have questions about AirPods Pro or Powerbeats Pro or want to offer feedback on this guide? Send us an email here.

Article Link: AirPods Pro vs Powerbeats Pro Buyer's Guide
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macrumors 68000
Sep 7, 2014
The Apple Store
I love my Powerbeats Pros, they’re awesome. If the AirPods Pros would’ve been out when I bought my PBPs, I would’ve had a hard choice between these two pairs of earbuds. Both great products however, and I don’t think you can go wrong with either.


macrumors 6502a
Oct 10, 2019
Atlanta, GA
I didn't care for the Powerbeats Pro. The sound just was not very good, especially when using it with my Apple Watch. I tried two different PBP as I had to return the first set for connectivity issues. Sounds wasn't any different. I went back to a pair of $25 bluetooth earbuds I got on Amazon. I really didn't want to believe that those sounded better.......but they just did. Haven't tried Airbuds Pro, but I'm not spending that much money on earphones again. Just don't think it is worth it.
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macrumors 6502
Aug 29, 2016
One of the main selling points AirPods Pro for me was ANC. So far, it hasn't disappoint in performing with what is advertised. You can hear it "closing the window" when you switch from active and inactive. Also, the battery life for active seems lesser than inactive, an accurate description of its features. This is not a big deal since the case is smaller than my Powerbeats Pro, so I can just get a quick charge if I need to. A win for APP imo.


macrumors regular
Jan 4, 2012
Phone Calls

Calls on both the AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro are crisp, clear, and sound great with little difference between them.

What's interesting is that I've seen multiple reviews on this forum say that folks on the receiving end of the calls have been frustrated.

While using my new Pros, I've today had two people on the other side of the phonecall tell me, my call sound quality was so bad, they simply had to hang up.

In the first case I was just walking next to regular city traffic, no wind. Second time was in a not too crowded café. The Pros seemed to pick up unbearable amounts of surrounding noises for the caller.

I opened up the pros halfway though my day yesterday and used them like normal in my usual starbucks spot. Every single person i talked to commented on how I sounded like I was far away and that the back ground noise was alot louder. Essentialy i sounded clearer and with less background noise on the old ones.

yea in a phone call with the pro, my wife could hear the radio in the background. but on the normal ones it wasnt. yea I am wondering if the mic on the pro are not as good since its not as close to your mouth.

Phone conversations: not good – very distracting with NC and even distracting with transpar. on: own voice like… numb.

On phone conversations your own voice does sound numb compared to orginal airpods.

Since using the Airpod Pros this week and on calls people have been commenting on how they are having a hard time hearing me. This is something that never happened with my regular AirPods. From what I can gather it sounds like the external noise cancellation or noise reduction algorithm is getting confused with the noise outside and my voice and effectively cutting out or reducing my voice and boosting the background noise.
Are others running into this problem? The common complaint I’m getting when talking on the phone with the Airpod Pro is that the background noise is too loud.

Same here too. I can't hear my husband at all when he calls me using his Pro's

This is what's holding me off from buying them. I'd love more reviews to see if the issue gets fixed, or if it's a settings issue (toggling one of the features on or off).
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macrumors 603
Dec 11, 2007
I have both and will be returning the APP. However I like the APP a great deal and do recommend them to others.

Ultimately I prefer the sound signature of the PP. They also are more comfortable in my ears. I tried every tip of the APP and none felt as right as the PP. Plus the volume rocker on each bud is a big advantage.

The APP shine in that they have such a small case that is easy to carry in your front pocket. I have the AirPods 2.0 which I thought I would sell and keep the APP but will now keep those instead. I do see myself one day owning a future AirPod model with hopefully volume control.
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macrumors 6502a
Feb 21, 2008
I owned the Powerbeats Pro last week. Got them on sale for $140. I returned them and got the AirPods Pro on Saturday. The Powerbeats Pro were a little buggy, they took some coaxing to switch between devices sometimes. They hurt one of my ears, and I was never sure if they were in properly. The angle you force them in is strange and makes it very difficult to judge. Also, the case was too big for my pocket. I prefer the AirPods Pro in every way. They sound better, fit better, Siri works better and they fit in my pocket. Noise cancelling is amazingly effective for something so small. I am very pleased I exchanged them. Money be damned.


macrumors newbie
Sep 18, 2012
I have had the PP's since they came out. They fit well, they sound great, and have never had issues with making or taking calls. I would not get the APP for fear I would lose one - I have odd shaped ear lobes and I I do not think they would fit properly in my ears. I may however, get the moss colored ones-especially now that you can find them for $199...
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macrumors member
Aug 25, 2016
Sony WF-1000xm3 sound much, much better.
AirPods Pro have same or even better ANC.
Also, the AirPods Pro are more comfortable to my ears and the ease of connection is 100x better.
I own both.


macrumors 6502
May 25, 2006
Minneapolis, MN
Really nice write-up. My biggest beef with the Powerbeats is the charging case. You have to put the things in there just right or they do not charge and drain. I initially had some auto-on pairing issues that appear to have cleared up. The Powerbeats sound good but not excellent. Need to try the Airpod Pros


macrumors 603
Oct 19, 2005
These are my workout headphones so I’m happy with my Powerbeats Pro. That said. If I were buying today I’d at least consider the AirPods. The original AirPods I had were great

Nicky G

macrumors 65816
Mar 24, 2002
I spent $249 on my PowerBeats Pro, not long after they were released. I decided to try out the Airpods Pro the day they were released. The ANC is really good -- wish my PowerBeats Pro had it. But I consider the bass profile to be much better with the Powerbeats Pro, especially for a lot of the type of electronic music I listen to. The battery life is incredible, almost magical-seeming. And these days, they can be had for $199 quite easily. I still think the Powerbeats Pro, for many people anyway, are the winner. However, Airpods Pro are a good, maybe even great product, and I would expect Apple to sell MANY of them. :)
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macrumors 6502
Jul 10, 2009
The biggest issue for me with the APP is the seal. It took me 4 days to figure out how to get a good seal. Once that is done, their sound blows away the Powerbeats Pro.


macrumors 6502a
Dec 5, 2007
Toronto, Canada
I have PBP (bought them a few months ago) but the over the ear hooks really hurt my ears after prolonged use. The review mentions that APB don't hurt as much. can anybody else who's had both comment on this?


Jul 16, 2010
The biggest negative I’ve found about the PBP is the charging. It is extremely flaky and often times the buds don’t make solid contact with the charging prongs in the case and they end up not charging. It’s happened on two separate sets.

Analog Kid

macrumors 603
Mar 4, 2003
Anybody else having problems getting the APPs to fit? My left ear seals just fine, but none of the tips work in my right ear... I think they just aren't long enough.
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