Powerbeats Pro are better headphones than AirPods, but won't replace them

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 22
After rocking Apple's newest Powerbeats Pro for the last week, we had to come to a conclusion on whether or not these water-resistant, better sounding, wireless headphones were going to usurp our go-to AirPods. While they are a clear winner with a target audience, for us, AirPods are still the way to go -- here's why.

Powerbeats Pro
Powerbeats Pro

Powerbeats Pro

If you aren't familiar, here is the low-down on Powerbeats Pro.

Powerbeats Pro easy setup process
Powerbeats Pro easy setup process


They are a wireless set of in-ear earbuds that sport Apple's latest H1 wireless chip -- the same found in the latest generation AirPods. This wireless chip allows for effortless pairing across all your Apple devices, excellent range, and quick access to Siri using the well-known keyphrase.






Compared to the AirPods, Powerbeats Pro are larger and wrap around the back of the ear as well as form a better seal in the ear canal itself. The case charges via Lightning and will blast your tunes for up to nine hours on a single charge (more than 24 hours combined playback time with included battery case).

As they are designed with athletes in mind, they are both sweat and water resistant -- though don't try to swim with them.

Lastly, they have improved audio. With heavy bass, they really make the AirPods sound tinny and weak.

Would we give up our AirPods?

When the second generation AirPods launched, we jumped in with both feet. We upgraded our original AirPods to the new iteration which added the new H1 wireless chip for faster performance, 'Hey, Siri' support, and wireless charging (with the optional Qi case). It wasn't a ton of changes but it was enough for us to swap out our old model that had a fairly low battery life after years of use.

That left us in the predicament when Powerbeats Pro hit store shelves. Should we upgrade to those and ditch our AirPods or stick with what works? We've been using them this past week and have developed a great impression of the new Powerbeats Pro.

Compared to AirPods, the audio is really a huge difference. Rich, deep bass which was great for hitting the gym. AirPods always fit our ears well-enough but sweat and jumping around on the treadmill/elliptical often jostled them loose. This was a non-issue with Powerbeats Pro. They stayed in our ears no matter what we threw at them.

Powerbeats Pro case
Powerbeats Pro charging case


Our issues became quickly apparent as soon as we ventured outside the gym. Powerbeats Pro have a large carrying case that was impossible for us to always keep with us. We often just left them in the house or the car. AirPods brought value by always fitting in our pocket and being ready the second we flipped open that simple case.

We took a ton of calls with AirPods too, which was obnoxious with Powerbeats Pro. They seal your ears which gives you the awkward sensation of talking but being unable to clearly hear yourself.

Powerbeats Pro are unequivocally the better of the two headphones -- they sound better, fit sturdier, and can go longer on a single charge.

But for us, they can't beat the convenience of AirPods.

AirPods for the win

In the end, it comes down to two big things -- price and size. For us, Powerbeats Pro are just not the always-ready pocketable buds that the AirPods are. We would be hardpressed to fit Powerbeats Pro into our pockets for strolling about. We hit the gym nearly daily which is where Powerbeats Pro really shine, but that is such a small part of the day.

We find it really hard to give up the slim design of the AirPods even though the Beats sound better.

Powerbeats Pro carry a larger price tag than AirPods too -- even if you include the wireless charging case. Many find the AirPods price hefty as-is which makes the larger sum needed for Powerbeats Pro even more to balk at.

Powerbeats Pro Lightning cable
Powerbeats Pro black Lightning cable


AirPods also support wireless charging, for what its worth, which may become even handier if recent rumors surrounding the iPhone XI are to be believed. These next-generation iPhone's are likely to support wireless powersharing by which you could place your AirPods right on the back of your iPhone to charge them up. Powerbeats Pro lack any sort of wireless charging so this would be a nonstarter. If this comes to fruition, a substantial third reason to stick with AirPods.

Powerbeats Pro
Powerbeats Pro


The awkward phone calls add fuel to the fire for why we are sticking with the second generation AirPods.

Unless, of course, we just keep both of them -- but that gets even more expensive.

Where to buy

Apple's 2019 AirPods with Wireless Charging Case are currently in stock at both Amazon and Walmart for $199 with free shipping. Amazon, meanwhile, is discounting 2019 AirPods with the regular Charging Case by $20, bringing the price down to $139.99.

Those looking for Apple's Powerbeats Pro can also backorder the wireless headphones at B&H Photo and Amazon.com. Both Apple authorized resellers are throwing in free shipping with the earphones, which retail for $249.95.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 593member
    I underestimated the benefit of the AirPods letting in outside noise.That makes them ideal to use while walking or cycling around. It feels like you are outside with music in the background, which combined with the automatic pausing and the portability is a truly unique experience. Something I never would have expected.
    Having said that, in the London tube you need earphones that seal off the overwhelming rattling and screeching so Apple will likely sell both to a lot of commuters in this wonderful but derelict town.
    edited May 22 dewmeStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 22
    They replaced mine!

    Love love love them. Better in every way for my needs (gym and road trips). Sound quality, isolation, battery, look, fit, security, case - all of it.
    edited May 22 lolliverminicoffee
  • Reply 3 of 22
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,007member
    Both serve different purposes. Apple is better off with providing these two options. 
    StrangeDays1STnTENDERBITSlolliver
  • Reply 4 of 22
    waw74waw74 Posts: 4member
    Who is the "we" in the article, There's only 1 name in the byline

    Different people have different views of how big is "too big to carry"

    a guy with cargo shorts,
    a lady with their notoriously absent pockets in pants,
    or that same lady if she carries a big shoulder bag

    lolliver
  • Reply 5 of 22
    So more bass is a positive now? It's hard to keep track of which Apple products are the victim of bass or enhanced by bass these days.
    bonoboblarz2112watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 22
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,151member
    Unfortunately for my wallet, the best solution with Apple devices that target two different use cases, e.g., AirPods vs Powerbeats, iPad Mini vs iPad Pro, is "both." Since this is not always practical I have to make a choice that ends up being a compromise solution - like pretty much everything else in life. This article is certainly helpful for making a choice, and I'm grateful that Apple allows us choices. Of course there are other non-Apple choices as well, but the wireless pairing technology that Apple provides with these devices is so seriously awesome that I struggle to consider anything other than Apple in this product category. Maybe I'm too picky, but whenever a wireless device gives me a hard time with pairing, or stutters/skips when it is clearly within range of the host, it incrementally erodes my confidence in the product. At some point I no longer want to go through the hassle of using it and it ends up in a drawer with all of the other misfit toys that no longer get played with.
    lolliverfastasleeprandominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 22
    Ghessh, I'm still waiting for my PowerBeats Pro to come in.......and for the wireless charging, I'll probably buy one of those recharge coils they sell on Amazon and eBay and tape it to the bottom of the case.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 22
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 593member
    dewme said:
    Unfortunately for my wallet, the best solution with Apple devices that target two different use cases, e.g., AirPods vs Powerbeats, iPad Mini vs iPad Pro, is "both." Since this is not always practical I have to make a choice that ends up being a compromise solution - like pretty much everything else in life. This article is certainly helpful for making a choice, and I'm grateful that Apple allows us choices. Of course there are other non-Apple choices as well, but the wireless pairing technology that Apple provides with these devices is so seriously awesome that I struggle to consider anything other than Apple in this product category. Maybe I'm too picky, but whenever a wireless device gives me a hard time with pairing, or stutters/skips when it is clearly within range of the host, it incrementally erodes my confidence in the product. At some point I no longer want to go through the hassle of using it and it ends up in a drawer with all of the other misfit toys that no longer get played with.
    I do wonder if the choice that Apple now offer really is such a good thing. As you say, this choice always compels us to either buy all versions of one product (and be sad for having so much kit), or, if we cannot afford all versions, be sad for not having the other version.

    The beauty of "old" Apple was that there was only one new (and one old) product, so when you had it, you were happy, you had all you could ever want and you KNEW you had the best possible product that exists (the other options from Samsung were laughable). Now, there is always another "great" Apple option because the variables are not always of incremental value, they are just "different"... You have the Xs Max, you sometimes wish you had bought the Xs; you have an IPadPro, you sometimes preferred the large iPadPro; whoch is better for travelling iMacPro or Air (sometimes one, sometimes the other), and so on.
    edited May 22 watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 22
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 823member
    So more bass is a positive now? It's hard to keep track of which Apple products are the victim of bass or enhanced by bass these days.
    More bass then the airpods or overwhelming booming bass are not the same thing.  To me besides the fit the weakest part of the airpods sound is bass response. I like tight and accurate, not barely there which is how airpods sound to my ears.  I also have an issue with the way they fit my ears so that may be contributing to what I feel is weak bass response.  So yes more bass than what the airpods produce is a positive in my opinion. I use a different brand of truly wireless from RHA and the bass is solid and accurate without being overbearing or booming. Night and day from her airpods.
    fastasleep
  • Reply 10 of 22
    thttht Posts: 3,249member
    Plan on getting a green pair when it is available, for the spouse. Hopefully I can see how they feel on my morning runs. AirPods don’t really work for me while jogging let alone running. Great for walking and desk work. Not so much fro workouts. Maybe these will do the trick.
    iqatedowatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 22
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,061member
    They replaced mine!

    Love love love them. Better in every way for my needs (gym and road trips). Sound quality, isolation, battery, look, fit, security, case - all of it.

    I need to go get mine replaced.  The left has lost 80% of its volume despite cleaning out wax.  It's my second set.  I gave away the first set when my daughter had hers stolen at school.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 22
    RajkaRajka Posts: 22member
    The AirPod has a fairly short lifespan due to the way it's manufactured. I suspect the Powerbeats would suffer the same shortcoming. It would be really awesome for the environment and the consumer if reviews would make this a big deal, hoping to affect public opinion which might ultimately lead to public demand to stop employing planned obsolescence so aggressively, if at all. There is no incentive for Apple or any other corporation to do better short of public demand. The way we spend out money is the strongest vote we have today.
    decoderring
  • Reply 13 of 22
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,541member
    Rajka said:
    The AirPod has a fairly short lifespan due to the way it's manufactured. I suspect the Powerbeats would suffer the same shortcoming. It would be really awesome for the environment and the consumer if reviews would make this a big deal, hoping to affect public opinion which might ultimately lead to public demand to stop employing planned obsolescence so aggressively, if at all. There is no incentive for Apple or any other corporation to do better short of public demand. The way we spend out money is the strongest vote we have today.
    Agreed. Which is why I'm going to keep buying them -- they're super small, very convenient, and a joy to use. I consider them something with a limited lifespan, just like another wearable -- running shoes. For actual runners, these only last about six months but cost as much as APs. I wish I could remove the soles and replace the used part only, but they don't work that way, they're integrated into a whole. 
    fastasleeprandominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 22
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,454member
    I wish the the AirPods offered a little more sound isolation. When walking, the ambient noise usually competes with the content. When that happens, I ditch them until I'm somewhere where the din is less. Otherwise I'd be cranking up the volume and that's bad for my ears.

    Otherwise, the AirPods stay in my ears, no worries. They're light and I can wear them for hours though I have single up each one for a 5min recharge. They could use a bit more bass, as far as most of my music is concerned. No trance, EDM, or hip-hop. Sound isolation would help that, but comfort would suffer. 

    I carry them in my pants pocket, something I can't do with Powerbeats Pro. But if they were a little cheaper, they'd have a time and place in my use case.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 22
    kruegdudekruegdude Posts: 340member
    Planning on having both. My original AirPods are still somewhat functional but a bit quirky, like they drain all power while in a closed case but they still function well and are great while traveling.  My BeatsX are great for use when I’m listening while trying to fall asleep since they’re wired together and don’t fall off but aren’t truly sweat proof, thus my desire for the Powerbeats. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 22
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,647member
    Rajka said:
    The AirPod has a fairly short lifespan due to the way it's manufactured. I suspect the Powerbeats would suffer the same shortcoming. It would be really awesome for the environment and the consumer if reviews would make this a big deal, hoping to affect public opinion which might ultimately lead to public demand to stop employing planned obsolescence so aggressively, if at all. There is no incentive for Apple or any other corporation to do better short of public demand. The way we spend out money is the strongest vote we have today.
    Agreed. Which is why I'm going to keep buying them -- they're super small, very convenient, and a joy to use. I consider them something with a limited lifespan, just like another wearable -- running shoes. For actual runners, these only last about six months but cost as much as APs. I wish I could remove the soles and replace the used part only, but they don't work that way, they're integrated into a whole. 
    So Apple is now expecting people to spend $150-250 every 2 years for headphones? Headphones are not shoes. It amazes me how people just accept that what should be a durable good wears out so quickly. From an environmental perspective, it's a waste as well. 
  • Reply 17 of 22
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 3,161member
    MplsP said:
    Rajka said:
    The AirPod has a fairly short lifespan due to the way it's manufactured. I suspect the Powerbeats would suffer the same shortcoming. It would be really awesome for the environment and the consumer if reviews would make this a big deal, hoping to affect public opinion which might ultimately lead to public demand to stop employing planned obsolescence so aggressively, if at all. There is no incentive for Apple or any other corporation to do better short of public demand. The way we spend out money is the strongest vote we have today.
    Agreed. Which is why I'm going to keep buying them -- they're super small, very convenient, and a joy to use. I consider them something with a limited lifespan, just like another wearable -- running shoes. For actual runners, these only last about six months but cost as much as APs. I wish I could remove the soles and replace the used part only, but they don't work that way, they're integrated into a whole. 
    So Apple is now expecting people to spend $150-250 every 2 years for headphones? Headphones are not shoes. It amazes me how people just accept that what should be a durable good wears out so quickly. From an environmental perspective, it's a waste as well. 
    My $180 wired headphones started falling apart after maybe 3 or 3.5 years, which is not crazy for tiny electronics you use at least 5 days a week. It’s just a fact of life. From an environmental perspective, *everything* is a waste. People put way more in landfills instead of recycling and waste things that could be reused all day long in quantities far larger than AirPods. Apple products have tended to last on the longer side, and battery technology will improve as it always has. I don’t see why we’d single out this one product. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 22
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 64member
    Great review Andrew. I’ve been very happy with my BeatsX for the past few years but I’m starting to consider upgrading. I wonder if you might add a side to side photo of the two cases for a better visual comparison? Either in a future article, or as an update to this one? Thanks.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 22
    wandersowanderso Posts: 108member
    It seems that if the beats were upgraded to allow the microphone audio of your voice to also play in the headphone when making a phone call, it would be a stronger solution.  This is the way that a telephone headset works. 
    randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 22
    My blue jeans have an extra little pocket in the front for my AirPods.

    Good job licensing an Apple AirPod pocket to Levis.
    MplsPwatto_cobra
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