Powerbeats 4: Hands on and first look with Beats' newest headphones

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2020
Apple's Powerbeats 4 wireless headphones have finally been released, but AppleInsider got our hands on a set early to take them for a spin.

Powerbeats 4 headphones in red
Powerbeats 4 headphones in red


Powerbeats 4 is the successor to the Powerbeats3 that launched way back in 2016. In the years since, Apple has been putting a lot of effort into wearables, including several iterations on AirPods and the substantial Powerbeats Pro.

With all the new features in the years since, we had high expectations for the updated models.



In the box

The box complies with Apple's usual standards for packaging -- which means it uses almost entirely recyclable paper and is nearly devoid of plastic. The headphones are on display once the box is opened and can be easily removed to reveal three additional sizes of ear tips as well as a charging cable. Beneath those are the getting started guides and a nylon travel bag.

Powerbeats 4 in its nylon travel bag
Powerbeats 4 in its nylon travel bag


The updated Powerbeats look mostly the same as the previous models. Refinements include softer curves and a more premium feel -- even though they are still largely plastic and silicone.

They are designed to stay in place with ear tips that go into your ears as well as have ear hooks that are moldable and wrap around your ears. A cable connects the headphones together -- the biggest difference between these and the Powerbeats Pro.

Specs and features

Apple has likely updated the internal chipset of the Powerbeats 4 to its own H1 chip, replacing the W1 found in the Powerbeats3. The H1 brings new features such as improved battery life, now up to 15 hours, and "Hey Siri" support.

Like its predecessor, these headphones are also sweat and water resistant for those bouts at the gym.

Controls on the Powerbeats 4
Controls on the Powerbeats 4


The left earpiece has a single power button located on top of the bridge, and the right earpiece has a volume rocker in the same location. The right earpiece also has a depressible Beats logo for controlling music playback as well as invoking Siri manually with a long hold.

Lightning port on the Powerbeats 4
Lightning port on the Powerbeats 4


Under the right earpiece is the charging port. Powerbeats 4 now charge via Lightning, just as the Powerbeats Pro, AirPods, and AirPods Pro do. Unfortunately, Apple only included a USB-A to Lightning cable and not a USB-C cable as with the AirPods Pro.

Beats is calling the Powerbeats 4 fast charging feature "Fast Fuel" which will net you over an hour of listening time after only 5 minutes of charging.

First impressions

We've only been using the Powerbeats 4 for a few hours thus far but so far we are very impressed with the improvements. Battery gains are substantial, the new design is much more polished, and we like the change from a flat cable to a round one.

The previous flat cable would occasionally stick to your neck while working out. Its flat surface combined with perspiration was a recipe for it holding onto your neck as you moved around. The round cable is much more comfortable, moves more freely, and ditches the cable management piece.

It appears that the new Powerbeats 4 will rely on iOS 13.4 for all features. We first tried to pair the Powerbeats 4 with an iPhone running iOS 13.3.1 and it would pair though as a non-specific set of headphones. There was no imagery or icons to be found.

Trying to pair the Powerbeats 4 on iOS 13.4
Trying to pair the Powerbeats 4 on iOS 13.4


After that we tried on our iOS 13.4 device, which is currently in beta. This time we got an alert that a software update would be needed to take advantage of all the headphones features. As of Sunday March 15, that update is not available. When Apple makes the new Powerbeats 4 official we will likely see a full release of iOS 13.4 as well.

We continued pairing the headphones and did see some missing imagery though some icons were already included in the beta. They seemed to otherwise work as normal -- they connected, could play back music, and "Hey Siri" worked.

There are some features missing in these headphones, some likely due to its new low price point. There is no active noise cancellation and no auto pause feature like we see with AirPods. Transparency mode is also non-existent.

Available... soon?

As we said, these headphones are currently not widely available. When they are available, they will retail for $149 which is $50 less than the previous generation.

A Powerbeats 4 earpiece
A Powerbeats 4 earpiece


Considering these new headphones are $50 less, have a better design, longer battery life, and "Hey Siri" support, we'd call these an easy win for Apple and Beats.

If you are looking for a solid set of workout headphones but don't want to shell out as much for the Powerbeats Pro, then you may want to keep an eye for these to officially go on sale. At our local store they were available in black and red though more colors may be forthcoming.

In the meantime, you can buy the Powerbeats3 on Amazon for $69.99 on sale.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    They seem to look like crabs
    (p- substitute if applicable)
  • Reply 2 of 8
    sergiozsergioz Posts: 338member
    15 hours of playback, sounds like a no brainer. Interesting option. I prefer Powerbeats Pro my self!  
  • Reply 3 of 8
    entropysentropys Posts: 2,886member
    They seem to look like crabs
    (p- substitute if applicable)
    It’s the colour. Christmas Island red crabs.

    i would like an insider story on how these were obtained for review....
    edited March 2020
  • Reply 4 of 8
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,103member
    Ummmm WHY is there a cable???

    entropys said:
    They seem to look like crabs
    (p- substitute if applicable)
    It’s the colour. Christmas Island red crabs.

    i would like an insider story on how these were obtained for review....

    Wal Mart.

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/20/03/15/powerbeats-4-spotted-at-retail-ahead-of-official-announcement
  • Reply 5 of 8
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,990member
    Beats said:
    Ummmm WHY is there a cable???
    It's there to connect the two earpieces. Don't like it? Get the Powerbeats Pro.

    I'll miss the Auto-Pause. It's been very handy with my AirPods. The Transparency mode would have been nice but I'll make do. That and the active noise reduction just eat up battery time anyway.

    When out runnin' around (but not actually running) my AirPods don't isolate traffic noise at all, and AirPods Pro didn't work for me.

    Soooo glad they charge by Lightning cable and not micro-USB, aka spawn of the Devil. It looks like the colors will be red, white, and black, unless more are added when they go live.

    They're Class 1 BT like AirPods, so if the cable functions as an antenna, they may have even greater range. I'm surprised how far in the house I can get from my phone or computer before losing the connection.

    https://www.beatsbydre.com/earphones/powerbeats/add-to-cart
  • Reply 6 of 8
    fred1fred1 Posts: 751member
    Sorry to post this here, but that’s what I’m wondering about: why are comments disabled on the previous article, the one about apps for reading on iOS devices??  I wanted to mention that the prices for books in the Apple book store are not, as written, always higher than in the Kindle store. I find that they’re usually lower from Apple. 
    Anyone know why comments aren’t allowed??
  • Reply 7 of 8
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,103member
    macgui said:
    Beats said:
    Ummmm WHY is there a cable???
    It's there to connect the two earpieces. Don't like it? Get the Powerbeats Pro.


    But the 2020 version?!?
  • Reply 8 of 8
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,172member
    Beats said:
    macgui said:
    Beats said:
    Ummmm WHY is there a cable???
    It's there to connect the two earpieces. Don't like it? Get the Powerbeats Pro.


    But the 2020 version?!?
    Extra security when working out or running. You get the freedom of a wireless connection with the security of a wire keeping their earbuds firmly around your neck. This is for folks who don't feel secure with true wireless?  It's the only reasoning I can think of..  Some people just lose things hahaha this style helps with that. B)


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