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Powerbeats Pro vs. AirPods 2

Apple's Beats brand in April 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.

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. Apple has not provided a specific IP rating for the Powerbeats Pro, but the company makes no claims at all about the water resistance of the AirPods.


According to Apple, the Powerbeats Pro have been engineered to handle sweat without failing, but you probably shouldn't wear them in the shower or while swimming.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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.


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.


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 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)


Top Rated Comments

(View all)

3 weeks 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?




Rating: 25 Votes
3 weeks 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.
Rating: 18 Votes
3 weeks ago
Thanks for this detailed breakdown of the difference between the two!
Rating: 12 Votes
3 weeks 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.
Rating: 9 Votes
3 weeks ago
Why do people buy airpods?? They look ridiculous, and more importantly there are much much better options
Rating: 7 Votes
3 weeks ago
Not a fan of the 'in ear canal" sensation these provide.
airpods for me feel better than something buried in my ear. Never been a fan of those types of buds.
Rating: 5 Votes
3 weeks ago
need ear wax resistance..then i'll buy
Rating: 5 Votes
3 weeks ago

450$ USD if you end up buying both

Ultimately Apple's pocketbook wins


It's a business. Were you expecting Apple to donate them?
Rating: 5 Votes
3 weeks 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.
Rating: 5 Votes
3 weeks ago
I’ve always been a behind the ear headphone guy. I bike & do a lot of outdoor physical activities, and apple’s regular wired earbuds never stayed in my ears. So the thought of having an airpod pop out of my ear while biking thru the streets of NYC kept me from ever buying them.

But these powerbeat pros look perfect for me. I was thinking of buying some of those cheap rubber behind the ear attachments for the airpods they sell on Amazon...but they aren’t the most elegant or effective solution.

The powerbeat pros are expensive...but In the end, their 9 hrs of listening time really sold me. That coupled with the behind the ear design for my active lifestyle was a no brainer.
Rating: 4 Votes

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