Powerbeats Pro vs. AirPods 2 Buyer's Guide

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.

airpodsdesign
‌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.

powerbeatsproivory
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.

airpodspowerbeatspro

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.

powerbeatsproiphone
‌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.

powerbeatsprobuttons
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.

powerbeatsprotowel
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.

powerbeatsprocolors

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.

airpodsvspowerbeatspro 1
‌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.

airpodsvspowerbeatscase
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.

airpodsvspowerbeatspro

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.

Related Roundup: AirPods
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Don't Buy)
Related Forum: AirPods

Top Rated Comments

AngerDanger Avatar
33 months ago
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?




Attachment Image
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
G5isAlive Avatar
33 months ago
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.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adamw Avatar
33 months ago
Thanks for this detailed breakdown of the difference between the two!
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
felixen Avatar
33 months ago
Why do people buy airpods?? They look ridiculous, and more importantly there are much much better options
They are incredibly quick and convenient. That’s the niche IMO and why I love mine.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JPack Avatar
33 months ago
So it's nearly $100 more for water resistance and a bigger battery.

Without audio quality test, it's not quite a fair comparison.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
danny1305 Avatar
33 months ago
Why do people buy airpods?? They look ridiculous, and more importantly there are much much better options
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple california streaming event

Apple Event Announced: 'California Streaming' on September 14 With iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7 Expected

Tuesday September 7, 2021 9:03 am PDT by
Apple today announced that it will be holding a special event on Tuesday, September 14 at 10:00 a.m. The event will take place at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with WWDC and last year's fall events, this new event will be held digitally with no members of the media invited to attend in person. Apple will likely provide pre-taped segments for...
iphone 12 colors 2021

iPhone 12 Colors: Deciding on The Right Color

Thursday November 5, 2020 8:35 am PST by
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived in October 2020 in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The 12 and 12 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you might not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone...
studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
maroon5memories

Apple Collaborates With Maroon 5 to Add 'Memories' Song to Photos App

Wednesday September 25, 2019 12:02 pm PDT by
Apple has teamed up with Maroon 5 to add the group's new song "Memories" to the Memories feature in the Photos app, allowing it to be used for photo slide show creations, reports Billboard. "Memories" will be available as a soundtrack option for a limited time and it is available to iPhone and iPad users running the latest iOS 13 and iPadOS software. Memories in the Photos app are created ...
affinity designer contour tool

Serif Updates Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher With New Tools and Functions

Thursday February 4, 2021 1:58 am PST by
Serif today announced across-the-board updates for its popular suite of Affinity creative apps, including Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and the Apple award-winning Affinity Publisher for Mac, all of which were among the first professional creative suites to be optimized for Apple's new M1 chip. "After another year which saw record numbers of people switching to Affinity, it's exciting to...
original iphone

Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

Monday January 9, 2017 7:15 am PST by
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future. The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed...
Top Stories 75 Thumbnail

Top Stories: Last-Minute iPhone 13 Rumors, Apple Announces App Store Changes, and More

Saturday September 4, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
The finish line is in sight! Apple's annual iPhone event is likely just a week or so away and all eyes will be on the company as it unveils the next version of its most popular product line. With any luck, we'll also see the next-generation Apple Watch and perhaps even some new AirPods. Other news this week saw Apple making some more changes to its App Store policies in response to a...
Top Stories 74 Thumbnail

Top Stories: iPhone 13 Nears Launch, Larger Apple Watch?, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini Rumors

Saturday August 28, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
August is rapidly drawing to close, which means Apple's annual iPhone launch event is right around the corner. iPhone 13 and Apple Watch Series 7 rumors are continuing to circulate, and we're also hearing about Mac updates likely coming a bit later. Apple is also finishing up work on its upcoming software updates like iOS 15, with some late-addition features starting to go live in beta while ...
iPhone 13 Wi Fi 6E feature update

Wi-Fi 6E Explained: What It Could Mean for iPhone 13 and Beyond

Monday August 2, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 is widely expected to come with Wi-Fi 6E capabilities, and while it may seem rather nuanced to the average consumer, with only improved speeds and being "up to date" in the realm of Wi-Fi technology, it's actually a fairly significant improvement, laying the groundwork for much of what we know the future holds. To truly understand Wi-Fi 6E, MacRumors sat down for an exclusive...