Powerbeats Pro vs. AirPods 2

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Apr 12, 2001
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Apple's Beats brand in April 2019 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 with an IPX4 water resistance rating, which means they're certified to hold up to water splashing against the enclosure from any direction, but have the potential to fail when immersed or exposed to jets of water.


With an IPX4 rating, the Powerbeats Pro should be able to survive sweat exposure, but should not be exposed to rain, swimming pools, or other excessive moisture. The AirPods have no specific water resistance rating and should not be exposed to water or sweat, though anecdotal reports have suggested they're able to hold up to some moisture.

We did a series of water resistance tests on the Powerbeats Pro and they held up well to both splashes of water and 20 minutes of submersion.



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. In our testing, the Powerbeats Pro worked well for calls. People had no issues hearing what we were saying, nor were there any issues with disconnects.

We have occasionally run into issues with poor sound quality on the AirPods, with people having a difficult time hearing us, but this is not a problem we've had with the Powerbeats Pro.

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.

Live Listen

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

Charging

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
 

G5isAlive

macrumors 6502a
Aug 28, 2003
847
1,126
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.
 

ChristianVirtual

macrumors 601
May 10, 2010
4,096
266
日本
I’m looking forward to hear about soundleaks of the Pro. I complaint I get at times from my surrounding colleagues when using AirPods
 

blairh

macrumors 68040
Dec 11, 2007
3,882
1,393
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.
 

AngerDanger

macrumors 601
Dec 9, 2008
4,634
20,962
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.
It already hurts mine. Did Apple determine there was strong demand for headphones that resemble '90s computers?


90spowerbeats.gif
 
Last edited:

tobybrut

macrumors member
Sep 10, 2010
67
93
So it's nearly $100 more for water resistance and a bigger battery.

Without audio quality test, it's not quite a fair comparison.
Whoops, read that wrong. Yeah, that does sound like a lot. The sound quality better be worth that $100.
 
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BGPL

macrumors 6502
May 4, 2016
288
617
California
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.
 
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AvisDeene

macrumors regular
Sep 25, 2017
110
375
I think these would look better if the rectangular shape that houses the logo was more narrow/thin.
 

sykeward

macrumors newbie
Jul 22, 2016
18
96
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.
 

carterx

macrumors member
Dec 4, 2006
51
9
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.
 

currentinterest

macrumors 6502
Aug 22, 2007
455
230
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.
 

zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
5,955
8,004
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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