Apple’s updated AirPods are currently the goto accessory for iPhone owners but don’t really offer that much in regards to getting your bang for your buck. If you are patiently waiting for the AirPods 2, the PowerBeats Pro — the first offering of Apple’s acquisition of Beats — might be a better bet for a truly wireless experience.
Design and Audio
Immediately I was drawn to the PowerBeats Pro design and look. The very sleek matte black finish combined with the earhooks initially gives the buds a sporty look and feel when you take them out of the case. Now, I must admit I did have some issues at first getting used to putting them on, but once you do the fit is absolutely secure. It should totally alleviate the fear AirPod owners usually have about them falling out of their ears. I used them while working out in the gym, and they didn’t move or shift at all. That could all be to the 17-percent reduction in weight. Now I wasn’t doing gymnastics or playing basketball with them on like in the commercial, but it would be a safe bet to assume they stay secure in those situations as well.
The earhooks are much thinner than its predecessors, so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb while you sporting them during your daily commute. As for the fit buds in-ear, I got an excellent tight seal when I placed them in my ears, allowing me to get the most out of the sound. But we can’t promise this will be the case for everyone based on the four different sized silicone tips in the box.
As far as the button configuration, the PowerBeats Pros are very easy to use. Depending on which hand you favor, you can use the two buttons located on each bud to adjust the volume. The Beats logo on each bud serves as a multifunctional button to either change the track, answer a call, or when held down beckon Siri. When you remove the Pros from your ears the music will automatically stop.
Speaking of audio, you definitely get Beats quality sound giving you that bass the company is known for in a wireless smaller package. This one of the departments the PowerBeats Pro outshines the AirPods, and it’s not even close. With 60% less harmonic distortion, you will be able to pick subtle things in songs you couldn’t get with other earbuds. While the bass can be a bit much at times, the PowerBeats Pro definitely is better than the rest when it comes to enjoying hi-fidelity tracks on your favorite streaming service.
The H1 Chip and Battery Life
Thanks to the fantastic H1 chip that is also in the second-gen Airpods, pairing your PowerBeats Pro with your iPhone or other Apple devices is a breeze. Immediately when the case is opened next to the iPhone, they are recognized. Surprisingly it was just as easy to pair them with my Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.
The H1 chip also allows wearers to summon Apple’s virtual assistant by just saying Hey Siri. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with Goggle Assistant. Thanks to the speech-detecting accelerometer inside the PowerBeats Pro, call clarity has been vastly improved as well.
Battery life is king on the PowerBeats Pro as well. Users will get up nine hours of playback compared to 6 hours on the Galaxy Buds. With the insanely large charging case, you get almost two full charges. Being that Beats is an Apple-owned company now, the Pro’s housing unit uses a Lightning cable. Quick charging through the case is very impressive, you can get a full hour of playback just of a 5-minute charge. If you opt to let the Pros charge for 15-minutes, you can get a respectable 4.5 hours of playback.
So you will find it very hard to be out in the streets worrying about your battery life unless you use the Pros all day long.
The Charging Case
If I have one big complaint about the PowerBeats Pro, it has to be the charging case. There is nothing compact about it, and it’s very bulky and looks honestly ridiculous when you put it in your pocket. Unlike the AirPods new charging case and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds case, the PowerBeats Pro, unfortunately, lacks wireless charging, which is a huge miss for the company. To give you a good idea of exactly how big the case is I put it next to the Galaxy Bud’s pill like case.
Thanks to the PowerBeats Pro’s great battery life as mentioned above, you can opt to leave the case home. If you have it on hand and need to charge them, the case will give you almost two full charges. As pictured above, you can get the rundown on the battery life of both Pros and the case. There is also an LED located on the case that will also let you know when the battery is low. Android users will have to guess how much battery life is left if you decided to venture out minus the case.
While wearing them during my workout, I did experience some connectivity issues with the sound dropping in out a bunch of times. It also happened when I would place my phone in my back pocket but instantly started working again with my iPhone, my hand. My connection would also drop out on a busy New York street, which was also very frustrating at times. But the dropouts were far and few between.
We would understand if users would be upset, especially with a hefty price tag, they have to pay if they want to own a pair of PowerBeats Pros.
While they make a great case than the AirPods, the $250 price tag might scare some folks away. But for what the PowerBeats Pro offers justifies its price point. There are cheaper alternatives that will offer you just about the same for less like Samsung’s Galaxy Buds or Jabra’s Elite 65T.
In the end, the pros definitely outway the cons with the PowerBeats Pro. If you’re not spooked by the price, the ridiculously large case and connection issues they are definitely an excellent investment. The Pros definitely are what Apple hoped its AirPods would be as far as a truly wireless experience for fans of the brand that Jobs built. With great battery life, sweatproof, the H1 chip and now three new color options starting August 22 these are in my opinion Apple’s better version of the AirPods.
Photos: Nagina Lane/Bernard Smalls/Apple