Powerbeats Pro vs. AirPods 2

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Apr 3, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple's Beats brand in April announced upgraded wire-free Powerbeats Pro earbuds that are quite similar to Apple's recently released second-generation AirPods, but with a focus on fitness and working out rather than every day use.

    The two sets of earbuds have a lot in common, but there are some notable differences that are worth pointing out. Read on for a complete comparison of the AirPods 2 and the Powerbeats Pro.

    Powerbeats Pro Design vs. AirPods 2 Design

    AirPods are made for casual use and feature a one size fits all design with a rounded bulb-like earpiece and a microphone-equipped tail that extends out of the ears. There's no additional hook or other mechanism to keep them in the ears.


    Powerbeats Pro are designed for fitness and have a design similar to prior Powerbeats models with earhooks that fit over the ears to secure them in place along with four ear tips in various sizes for a customizable fit.

    Powerbeats Pro are meant to stay in the ears during vigorous activity and Apple tested more than 20 configurations before arriving at a design that fits most people.


    Both the Powerbeats Pro and the AirPods come in charging cases, but while the AirPods charging case is small, compact, and the size of a dental floss container, the Powerbeats Pro charging case is much larger, clamshell-like, and not as pocketable.


    Sound Differences and Noise Isolation

    Powerbeats Pro use rubber ear tips in four sizes similar to traditional earbuds, which means they're designed to create a tight fit in the ear to isolate ambient noises. There is no feature for adding in ambient noise, which is something to be aware of if you plan to use these in situations where you need to hear what's going on around you.


    AirPods have no similar ambient noise filtering because they are not designed to fit tightly in the ear canal.

    Apple says sound was a focus when designing the Powerbeats Pro, with the new earbuds offering powerful, balanced audio with pure sound reproduction, enhanced clarity, and improved dynamic range.

    Apple makes no similar claims about the AirPods and instead describes them as having "rich, high-quality sound." We'll need to wait for hands-on reviews for more specific details about the sound differences between Powerbeats Pro and AirPods.

    Physical Buttons

    You can tap on the AirPods to do things like activate Siri or change the song track, but there are no actual physical buttons.

    The Powerbeats Pro is larger with more available surface area, and it does feature physical buttons for adjusting the volume, changing the song track, and accepting or declining a call.


    There is no off button on the AirPods and there is no off button on the Powerbeats Pro. The Powerbeats Pro come on when taken out of the charging case and turn off when put back in, and will also go into a sleep mode after a period of inactivity to preserve battery life. The AirPods work the same way.

    Water Resistance

    According to Apple, the Powerbeats Pro are sweat and water resistant. Apple has not provided a specific IP rating for the Powerbeats Pro, but the company makes no claims at all about the water resistance of the AirPods.


    According to Apple, the Powerbeats Pro have been engineered to handle sweat without failing, but you probably shouldn't wear them in the shower or while swimming.

    Powerbeats Pro Colors vs. AirPods 2 Colors

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


    Price Difference

    Apple's AirPods are priced at $199 for the version with a Wireless Charging Case or $159 for the version without one, while Powerbeats Pro cost $250.

    That's almost a full $100 over the base model of the AirPods.

    Processor, Sensors, and Siri Support

    The Powerbeats Pro use the same H1 chip that's in the AirPods 2 for faster connections to your devices, faster switching between devices, lower latency, and support for hands-free "Hey Siri" activation.

    As with the AirPods, using "Hey Siri" requires the Powerbeats Pro to be paired with a compatible device like an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch.


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

    As with the AirPods, you can use just one Powerbeats Pro earbud or use both at the same time.

    Phone Calls

    AirPods have a speech-detecting accelerometer and beamforming microphones that filter out external noise when you're making a phone call or a Siri request, and the Powerbeats Pro have the same feature.

    The Powerbeats Pro actually have two beamforming microphones on each side to make up for the lack of a stem like the AirPods have. Phone calls on both the AirPods and the Powerbeats Pro are designed to sound crisp and clear.

    Battery Life

    Each Powerbeats Pro earbud offers nine hours of listening time, which is a full four hours longer than the AirPods promise. AirPods offer five hours of battery life, but the battery life of both the AirPods and the Powerbeats Pro is extended to over 24 hours with their respective charging cases.


    The AirPods and the AirPods Wireless Charging Case can be charged using either Lightning or Qi-based wireless charging. The Powerbeats Pro case does not feature support for 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.


    Apple's AirPods have a similar fast charging feature but it's not quite as good due to the smaller battery, offering three hours of listening time with a 15 minute charge.

    Comparison Chart

    Here's an at-a-glance comparison chart that gives a quick overview of the differences between the AirPods 2 and the Powerbeats Pro.


    Bottom Line

    Apple's AirPods 2 and new Powerbeats Pro earbuds are clearly aimed at different target markets. While the AirPods 2 are for casual listening on a day to day basis, the more expensive Powerbeats Pro are designed for physical activity including sports, workouts, and more.

    The AirPods are smaller and more convenient to carry and offer more convenient wireless charging methods, while the Powerbeats Pro offer longer battery life, superior sweat resistance, more color options, sound isolation, and potentially a different sound profile.

    Choosing between AirPods 2 and Powerbeats Pro will depend on how the AirPods fit in your ears - some people can't get a good fit with the one size fits all design -- and your budget. The Powerbeats Pro's earhooks and ear tips in multiple sizes will potentially offer a better fit and will certainly be the better option for people who need earbuds for physical activity.

    More Info

    For more details on the Powerbeats Pro, make sure to check out our full Powerbeats Pro guide.

    Guide Feedback

    Have questions about the Powerbeats Pro or AirPods or know of details we've left out? Let us know in the comments or Send us an email here.

    Article Link: Powerbeats Pro vs. AirPods 2
  2. adamw macrumors regular


    Sep 22, 2006
    Thanks for this detailed breakdown of the difference between the two!
  3. G5isAlive macrumors 6502a

    Aug 28, 2003
    I don't know how to feel about a comparison of audio equipment that contains no actual audio data. I get that it compares what Apple says, but this feels premature. It would have more value once product was in hand and people could actually listen to them. Right now its essentially just a spec comparison, and I can do that myself from reading the original article.
  4. farewelwilliams macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2014
  5. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

    Jul 12, 2016
    Nice write up Macrumors. My personal preference is with the AirPods. Simply because of convenience of the smaller compact design and I generally like the fit of the AirPods.
  6. JPack macrumors 68040


    Mar 27, 2017
    So it's nearly $100 more for water resistance and a bigger battery.

    Without audio quality test, it's not quite a fair comparison.
  7. ChristianVirtual macrumors 601


    May 10, 2010
    I’m looking forward to hear about soundleaks of the Pro. I complaint I get at times from my surrounding colleagues when using AirPods
  8. BasicGreatGuy Contributor


    Sep 21, 2012
    In the middle of several books.
    Never mind. Got my question answered in the chart. I missed it the first time.
  9. Salty Pirate macrumors 6502

    Salty Pirate

    Oct 5, 2005
    kansas city
  10. Superhai macrumors 6502


    Apr 21, 2010
    Why write anything... from the looks of it some people appreciate the comparison article, as likely you save the time to do it yourself.
  11. ipedro macrumors 601


    Nov 30, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    This must really hurt Jony Ive’s brain.


    There’s no way he designed these. They’re nicer than the last model but this isn’t Ive’s style at all. I’m guessing someone else his junior in the design studio was given the lead on Beats gear.
  12. blairh macrumors 68040


    Dec 11, 2007
    I'm excited to get the Powerbeats Pro. I use my Powerbeats3 a ton. A real shame though regarding the lack of wireless charging and that huge charging case. However the sound quality, noise isolation, and incredible battery life win me over.
  13. AngerDanger, Apr 3, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019

    AngerDanger macrumors 601


    Dec 9, 2008
    It already hurts mine. Did Apple determine there was strong demand for headphones that resemble '90s computers?

  14. tobybrut macrumors member

    Sep 10, 2010
    Whoops, read that wrong. Yeah, that does sound like a lot. The sound quality better be worth that $100.
  15. danny1305 macrumors member

    Oct 5, 2018
    Why do people buy airpods?? They look ridiculous, and more importantly there are much much better options
  16. BGPL macrumors regular


    May 4, 2016
    Expensive Apple headphones - Hard plastic, non-ergonomic, don't stay in ear.

    Cheap-o headphones from Amazon - Soft rubber cones, ergonomic, never come out.

    These are the same headphone designs that Sony used in 1995 when it first started using earbuds. These don't fit right in the ear, and they come out during any sort of exercise. But of course, it's Apple, and that means it's form over function.

    Jony - Make a set that stays in my ear and doesn't hurt after 30 minutes and I'll buy it.
  17. felixen macrumors 6502a

    Apr 13, 2009
    They are incredibly quick and convenient. That’s the niche IMO and why I love mine.
  18. AvisDeene macrumors member


    Sep 25, 2017
    I think these would look better if the rectangular shape that houses the logo was more narrow/thin.
  19. sundog925 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 19, 2011
    Not a fan of the 'in ear canal" sensation these provide.
    airpods for me feel better than something buried in my ear. Never been a fan of those types of buds.
  20. sykeward macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2016
    Portland, OR
    Disclaimer: This completely misses the point. But after seeing the charging case for the Beats in this article, I have to wonder if they were actually at the root of all the "black Airpods are coming!" supply channel reports from February that didn't pan out.
  21. carterx macrumors member


    Dec 4, 2006
    As a user who’s spent the past couple weeks reading and watching reviews I’ve been between AirPods and Jabra 65t’s.

    I already have the intention to buy a pair but which earbuds will it be.

    I was leaning towards AirPods due to comfort and ease ability to move between multiple Apple products.

    Now with the Beats and the better battery life and bonus of being aimed at an active person for working out I’m now leaning towards those.

    I will of course wait to hear about audio reviews but I believe it will be the new Beats or AirPods.
  22. chasemac macrumors 6502a


    Jan 30, 2005
    In a house.
    How long do the batteries last? A year or two?
  23. nordique macrumors 65816

    Oct 12, 2014
    450$ USD if you end up buying both

    Ultimately Apple's pocketbook wins
  24. currentinterest macrumors 6502

    Aug 22, 2007
    Love my AirPods (had v1, now v2). I run with them and find the fit is quite good. Not having the fast syncing would now drive me crazy. The addition of “Hey Siri” makes them almost perfect. I am not a fan of the over ear design, nor the large charging case. The outstanding question, however, concerns the difference in audio quality. It would have to be dramatic to get me to switch.
  25. zorinlynx macrumors 603


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    I wonder if the Powerbeats have the same problem I've had with other "earplug" style headphones; they amplify any sounds I make internally a hundred times, which is incredibly annoying.

    I tried an LG Tone headset once that had this earplug style, and if I tried to eat with them my chewing was amplified so loud that I couldn't stand to wear them while eating. When I'd walk, I'd loudly hear my own footsteps. And my own voice would sound really weird and super-loud when I'd talk. I returned them.

    Airpods have been free of this phenomenon, which is why I like them; problem is they don't stay in my ears that well. I'm most happy with over-the-ear headphones (Bose QC35), which also don't have this problem, but are a pain in the ass to carry everywhere with you since you can't stuff them in your pocket.

    I guess the only way to find out will be to try them.

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