How Do Apple's New Powerbeats Pro Compare to AirPods?

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 9, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Earlier this week, we shared a hands-on look at the Powerbeats Pro earbuds launching tomorrow, and today, we thought we'd do an in-depth comparison with the AirPods, giving MacRumors readers a closer look at the similarities and differences between the two devices.

    AirPods and Powerbeats Pro look nothing alike, as the former is designed for casual use and the latter is aimed at those who live a more active lifestyle. The AirPods feature an iconic design that's reminiscent of the EarPods design Apple has used for years, with the earbuds meant to fit ears of all shapes and sizes with no customization.

    The Powerbeats Pro are more similar to traditional earbuds, with silicone tips that nestle in the ear and an earhook to hold them firmly in place. The silicone tips come in four sizes, but the earhooks, which wrap around the ear, are one size. These earhooks make sure the Powerbeats Pro stay firmly in place during physical activity.


    The silicone tips of the Powerbeats Pro are meant to fit tightly in the ear, which produces a sound isolating - but not noise canceling - effect that dampens ambient noise. The AirPods have no such feature so ambient sound is more audible. Apple has also designed the Powerbeats Pro with IPX4 water resistance while the AirPods have no specific Ingress Protection rating, which means Powerbeats Pro should better hold up to sweat.

    Both the AirPods and the Powerbeats Pro have been described as comfortable to most people in reviews and hands-on accounts, though some reviewers have called the Powerbeats Pro even more comfortable than the AirPods despite the earhook, while others find the AirPods easier to wear. The earhook is soft enough that it's not a hassle to wear for longer periods of time, and in our testing, it even fit well with sunglasses.


    The Powerbeats Pro are much larger than the AirPods, and while the case that charges them up is similar in functionality to the AirPods case, it's much larger and it's not pocketable, plus it doesn't have wireless charging support and can only charge with a Lightning cable. The Powerbeats Pro only come in black right now, but this summer, Apple is going to release moss, ivory, and navy shades. The AirPods are limited to white.

    There are major physical differences between the Powerbeats Pro and the AirPods, but the underlying feature set is the same and the two share similar hardware. Both include Bluetooth 5.0 and an H1 chip for quick pairing, fast device switching, and hands-free "Hey Siri" support. An accelerometer and other sensors also allow AirPods and Powerbeats Pro to pause audio when removed from the ear and resume when the earbud is placed back in the ear.


    Music controls are included, and while tap gestures are used on the AirPods for changing tracks and playing/pausing, there are physical controls on the Powerbeats Pro, including a volume button, something the AirPods don't have. As for sound quality, the Powerbeats Pro sound better than the AirPods, which shouldn't come as a surprise given the larger body and the higher price tag.

    In our experience, the Powerbeats Pro feature a more immersive and full sound profile because of the tight fit in the ears. Apple says that sound quality was a focus when designing the Powerbeats Pro, and it shows. The AirPods still sound great, though, and are more than adequate for everyday use.

    For those who have been wondering, the Powerbeats Pro do indeed support Live Listen, as do the AirPods. Live Listen lets you use the iPhone as a microphone to amplify the ambient noise around you so you can better hear what's going on. As a side note, both AirPods and Powerbeats Pro have beamforming microphones so they sound great when using them for phone calls.


    When it comes to battery life, the Powerbeats Pro win out. They're bigger and house a bigger battery than the AirPods, boasting up to nine hours of battery life per earbud and an additional 24+ hours through the case. AirPods max out at about five hours, though the AirPods case also adds 24+ hours of battery life. As for phone calls, Apple says the Powerbeats Pro offer six hours of talk time while the AirPods offer up to three hours of talk time.

    Beyond design, pricing is one of the major differences between the Powerbeats Pro and the AirPods. Apple sells the second-generation AirPods with Wireless Charging Case for $199 and with standard case for $159, while the Powerbeats Pro cost $250.

    For a deeper comparison of the Powerbeats Pro vs. the AirPods, make sure to check out our Powerbeats Pro and AirPods guide, which walks through the two audio accessories feature by feature. Our dedicated Powerbeats Pro guide also has everything you need to know about Apple's newest earbuds.

    Article Link: How Do Apple's New Powerbeats Pro Compare to AirPods?
  2. Baymowe335 macrumors 601

    Oct 6, 2017
    The PowerBeats are too big for me to consider. Seem like a solid product though.
  3. squizzler macrumors regular


    Feb 11, 2019
    You Kay
  4. alexandr macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2005
    they're not going to add a button, but some kind of a tap option to control volume would be amazing.
  5. psac macrumors 6502a


    Jul 6, 2009
    Yeah this. Though it's been soooo much easier since someone here mentioned a few weeks ago that you can use the crown on your AW to control the volume when the Now Playing window is open.
  6. littyboy, May 9, 2019
    Last edited: May 9, 2019

    littyboy macrumors 6502a

    Jun 12, 2009
    Can we get a comparison between the PB3 and PB Pro? All these reviews are for PB Pro Vs Airpods... kinda pointless since the audience they appeal to are different.
  7. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

    Jul 12, 2016
    Not pointless at all. Apple is selling the Powerbeats3, and the AirPods are proprietary, why wouldn’t someone want to see the difference between both offerings?Considering they both also have major differences as well. Not to mention, on an Apple related site like this, don’t you think it makes sense to actually compare the AirPods v.s. the competition?
  8. WBRacing macrumors 65816

    Nov 19, 2012
    An assistant "tap-to-trigger" then spoken instruction could work quite nicely.

    Pity it'd be Siri, so rather than a volume change you would probably end up making a phone call to a clinic...
  9. iamasmith macrumors 6502


    Apr 10, 2015
    Cheshire, UK
    A major thing for me, and I have BeatsX (which I now use for running only) and Bose QC35 which I use less since flying fewer, is... availability.. the AirPods fit nicely and securely into a jeans watch pocket and they top themselves up when not using them - this is super useful because you can always have them with you with no imposition and you know they will be charged. Sound quality is also excellent and to be honest whilst I liked the BeatsX my appreciation of the quality went down and the AirPods quality appreciation seems to have gone up all the time.
    Apple labeled the Apple Watch on launch as their most personal device. I love mine and I look forward to it's evolution but, I would say that the AirPods could take that moniker on general use.
  10. iDento macrumors 6502


    Sep 8, 2011
    iCloud Servers
    Different target audience, different product categories, different in everything except that they are both amazing products for what they are trying to do.

    I'm saying that the PB is amazing because reviews, I can only share my personal experience with the AirPods, I have no PB.
  11. Mick-Mac macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2011
    I like to watch movies on my iPad in bed and in my case the airpods just roll out of my ears when doing that so they're out. It's clear the PBP's will stay in my ear, which takes me to the next layer of hassle. Sometimes I prefer to lie on my side i.e. my head would be directly on top of one of the PBP's (albeit cushioned by a pillow). I know this is a relative question, but is the shape of the PBP's such that they're way too uncomfortable in that position?
  12. littyboy macrumors 6502a

    Jun 12, 2009
    Through their ads, they are obviously directing the PB line towards athletes/gymnists while the Airpods are for more a generalized population. This is not saying one can't be used for any situation, but it is more geared towards certain scenarios.
  13. Lepton macrumors 6502a


    Apr 13, 2002
    Cold Spring Harbor, NY
    Put two small metal rings around the stem, one above the other. Now it can sense swipes up and down. Volume up/down, song next/prior here we come!
  14. SecuritySteve macrumors 6502a


    Jul 6, 2017
    Still waiting for high quality over-ear wireless headphones with a digital microphone and 12+ hour battery life. Please Apple!
  15. DeepIn2U macrumors 603


    May 30, 2002
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Seriously? Second or Third article since receiving these in hand and MacRumors ONLY mentions this about Voice or Calls? Even when stating compared to AirPods?

    We know this ... it's part of the product launch information. What many of us, at least I, want to know is how does Call and Voice quality far compared to the AirPod?
    - how does your voice sound to the other party on a carrier voice call (including international call)?
    - how does your voice sound to the other party in another state/province?
    - how does your voice sound to the other party on FaceTime Audio/Video calls? How do You sound to them?
    - how does your voice sound in a Windy environment outside? With storms, rain been happening surely there's been an opportunity no? Standing by a construction site during a voice call ... how does your voice sound to the other party? How much of the background noice pick-up?

    Ultimate test! (recall those HUGE green home fans, you know the ones as a kid in the 70's/80's where you spoke into the fan and you heard Mr Roboto voice coming out lol)? THAT would be a great voice test against beam forming to the other party!

    These are predominantly for music yes, but they have not one but 2 beam forming microphones per ear ... so please test that in full.
  16. Sean006 macrumors 6502

    Dec 23, 2008
    2 things keeping me away from the beats pro
    Case size is massive not pocket friendly

    On my old beats wireless the metal they use in the ear hoop under the rubber came through. So the ear hoop had no shape And metal sticking in my ear which caused it not to fit properly
  17. Casaron macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2014
    I hope I haven’t misunderstood the Live Listen function. I’m thinking of buying one or the other for the use they are intended for. However, as a side note, I’ve been quoted a couple of grand for hearing aids. Could I use my iPhone as the microphone to pick up and amplify ambient sound to the AirPods/Powerbeats whilst I watch tv for example, my main problem! I believe if I Bluetooth the tv connection, then it mutes the sound for my wife?

    Apologies if a silly question.
  18. 69Mustang macrumors 604


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    UrAverageConsumer did the fan test. PBP's performed like a champ. Rene Richie said calls sound great. Both vids are on YT.
  19. MrGuder macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2012
    My biggest gripe with my AirPods is no volume control. Along with that no dedicated volume for music SEPARATE from my iPhone sounds like notifications, in coming calls and alert sounds.
  20. Baymowe335 macrumors 601

    Oct 6, 2017
    Seems like they could literally add it with software. If double tap goes to next track, it could raise volume. Double tap right to raise volume, double tap left to lower.
  21. drnu20 macrumors newbie


    Jul 21, 2010
    Lancaster, CA

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  22. alexandr macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2005
    yes, great news for aw owners. unfortunately it still doesn't work on my #2 selling watch in the world though)
  23. ATC macrumors 65816

    Apr 25, 2008
    I have the original AirPods and love them (they've never fallen out on me) but I'm thinking about ordering a pair of these mainly due to the improved audio quality and physical buttons and volume control - that's my biggest issue with the AirPods, they're a pain to control. EPP pricing on these is still high ($297 CAD) but might be worth it. Wish the charge case was wireless though.
  24. sir1963nz macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2012
    I have a pair of proper headphones that are over 6 years old, still works fine. These battery powered devices are throw away , once the battery goes, into the waste stream they go.
  25. alexandr macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2005
    of course they could, but since the double-tap can only do one command per headphone, we would still be limited to 2, and next track command still takes priority over volume control for me. it would be great if they added different "gestures" or such to add more commands than 2.
    --- Post Merged, May 9, 2019 ---
    that would be cool, but i don't think apple would do that, they prefer slightly more seamless solutions.

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