New Beats Powerbeats Pro are AirPods with extended battery life

Beats' new Powerbeats Pro are AirPods with longer battery life and a better fit

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A couple of weeks after Apple launched its second-generation AirPods, the company's Beats division is finally making its own entry into the true wireless headphone market. The new Powerbeats Pro from $ 249.95 ships in May and is Beats' most important product in years. I have a feeling that, for many people, these will be more compelling than the AirPods. They offer longer battery life, they seal completely in your ears without letting outside noise in, they include the same Apple H1 chip as the newer AirPods for hands-free "Hey Siri" voice commands, and yes, to my ears, the Powerbeats Pro Sounded better during my brief introduction to them.

Beats says its Powerbeats wireless headphones are the world's most popular exercise headphones, and the new Pro model ditches the cable that joins the left and right buttons. They retain the Powerbeats look and identity, but Beats didn't just cut the cable; it redesigned the entire product in motion to a true wireless design. The Pros are 23 percent smaller and 17 percent lighter than regular Powerbeats neck pads, and Beats offers color options beyond white: the Powerbeats Pro will come in black, white, dark green and navy blue.


  • Duration of the battery: Beats says the Powerbeats Pro can achieve nine hours of continuous listening. That's no match for the best traditional Bluetooth headphones (including Beats' Solo 3s), but if accurate, it's an outstanding achievement for true wireless headphones. Nine hours easily beats the AirPods, Galaxy Buds, Jabra Elite 65t and the rest of the field. The charging case contains enough extra juice to get about 24 hours of total listening time.
  • Apple H1 chip: al just like the second-generation AirPods, the Powerbeats Pro include Apple's H1 chip for hands-free "Hey Siri" voice commands and faster switching between Apple devices.
  • Fit: Beats for a comfortable and secure fit, and my initial impression is that they nailed it. Wrapping the ear hook around my ear was a bit awkward, as is life for those of us who wear glasses, but once they were in, the Powerbeats Pro didn't budge. I couldn't take them for a run or do cartwheels while wearing them, so more testing is needed. But don't judge these based on older Powerbeats headphones. Beats says that ?more than 20 configurations were electronically modeled and physically tested. The result is a completely new, ergonomically angled acoustic housing that nests comfortably in the ear-shell cup with an off-axis nozzle." Four sets of ear tips should mean you'll find the perfect seal or something close to it.
  • Physical controls: no need to worry about gestures or awkward touch-sensitive touch zones here. Both headsets have identical physical buttons for volume and tracking controls. When you're in the middle of a workout, you'll appreciate the uncomplicated controls. There's no power button, but the headphones contain motion sensors that automatically put them into sleep mode when idle.
  • Automatic pause and resume: like AirPods and many other true wireless headphones at this point, Powerbeats Pro will pause your music when one or both earbuds are removed and then start playing again once they go back in.
  • They can be used independently: al Just like AirPods, both Powerbeats Pro earbuds connect to your device independently. Many other true wireless buds use a linked system where only one is connected to your phone, and the other is connected to the first earbud. This limits you to using only one side for phone calls, for example. With the Powerbeats Pro, you can attach either headset and you're done.


  • Large carrying case: it's very clear that Beats expects people to keep the charging case for the Powerbeats Pro in a bag of some kind; It doesn't matter if it's their gym bag or carry-on luggage. But the case is significantly larger than the competition. It's hard to beat Apple here, and you have to factor in the Powerbeats Pro's ear hooks, which require a larger case. Still, this one is much larger than what you get with the Beats competition. You could probably squeeze this in a pocket, but it will not be comfortable.
  • No wireless charging: if there's one obvious thing that separates the new AirPods from Powerbeats Pro, it's this. The case does not support Qi wireless charging.
  • There is no LED light to show the charging status of the headset: Apple's AirPods also lack this, so I'm not surprised. But some true wireless earbuds have separate LEDs to reflect how much charge the case and earbuds have. The small circular LED on the front of the Powerbeats Pro case is only designed to show its own remaining battery. To check the battery level of the headphones, you need to open the case near your iPhone; a menu will appear showing you the charge status of the headphones and case. You will also see the percentage when you are using them in the iOS battery widget.
  • Water resistant, but not rated: Beats isn't disclosing an IPX water-resistance rating for Powerbeats Pro, but the company insists it's been designed to handle all your sweat without failing. (The charging case no is water-resistant, so you'll want to wipe your headphones clean before dropping them in there after an intense workout).


Look, I really didn't have enough time to listen to make a definitive call here, but my initial impression is very positive. The Powerbeats Pro put a lot of oomph behind The Hold Steady and my rock-centric playlist. They showed very good dynamic range and a wide soundstage as I ran through my library over the course of a couple of minutes. Yes, there is an emphasis on bass. And no, no one is going to confuse these with neutral studio headphones.

If you want Beats to take the sound, here it is: "Completely redesigned from the inside out, the headphones feature an improved linear piston driver that harnesses efficient, pressurized airflow to create a powerful acoustic response in a small package."


  • The case is charged with Lightning: Beats puts a Lightning connector on the Powerbeats Pro box instead of USB-C. It's not the first time the company has done this; Beats Xs also use Lightning. I can see reasonable arguments on both sides: if you have an iPhone, you obviously have a Lightning cable at the ready. But isn't that the future USB-C? Either way, the Powerbeats Pro can still charge pretty fast. Beats says you can get an hour and a half of playback with a 5-minute charge and four and a half hours after a maximum of 15 minutes.
  • The quality of the call is supposed to be excellent: the Lousy voice calls are a common complaint with true wireless headsets. Check out the Galaxy Buds video review from my colleague Becca to see just one example of that. The long stem of the AirPods helps tremendously here. But Beats came up with their own solution: they put voice-sensing accelerometers (to detect when your mouth is moving) and two beam-forming microphones in each earcup that should be able to pick up your voice and block outside noise reasonably well. I haven't tested it yet, so I can't respond, but I'm optimistic.
  • They work well with Android: the Powerbeats Pro are Android compatible, of course, and Beats says you can expect the same battery life of up to nine hours on a charge. A Lightning charging port is a bit of a drawback, but there's nothing you're really missing aside from Apple-exclusive features like "Hey Siri."


Beats (and, by extension, Apple) consider Powerbeats Pro to be complementary to AirPods, not a direct threat. They are in a different price range ($ 250 vs. $ 159 or $ 200). They isolate sound, which some people will prefer but others will not. If you frequently go out on busy city streets and like to be aware of what's going on, that could be a deciding factor. The Powerbeats Pro does not have any kind of ambient noise mode to channel outside audio.

But if AirPods do not fit properly or if no want to block out surrounding noise, the Powerbeats Pro are looking very impressive out of the gate. The nine-hour battery life sets a new bar for true wireless headphones. They fit comfortably and securely.


The Powerbeats Pro are firmly in the high-end tier of true wireless headphones. They are not the most expensive, but they are certainly up there.

Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay E8: $ 299.99 
Sennheiser Momentum true wireless: $ 299.95 
Master and dynamic MW07: $ 299 
Beats Powerbeats Pro: $ 249.95
Sony WF-1000X: $ $199.99 
Apple AirPods with wireless charging case: $ 199 
Free Bose SoundSport: $ 199 
Sony WF-SP700N: $ 179.99 
Jabra Elite 65t: $ 169 
Apple AirPods with regular case: $ 159 
Samsung Galaxy Buds: $ 129 
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air: $ 79

link to buy them:

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