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 second-generation AirPods, but with a focus on fitness and working out rather than everyday 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 second-generation AirPods and the Powerbeats Pro.


Powerbeats Pro Design vs. AirPods 2 Design

The AirPods are made for casual use and feature a one size fits all design with a rounded bulb-like earpiece and a microphone-equipped stem that extends out of the ears. There is no hook or additional mechanism to keep them in the user's 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 apparently tested more than 20 configurations before arriving at a design that fits most people.

powerbeatsproivory
Both the ‌Powerbeats Pro‌ and the AirPods come with charging cases, but while the AirPods charging case is small, compact, and around 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 are designed to create a tight fit in the ear to isolate ambient noises. There is no feature for allowing ambient noise in, which is something to be aware of if you plan to use these in situations where you need to hear what is 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."

Physical Buttons

You can tap on the AirPods to do things like activate Siri or skip a track, but there are no actual physical buttons.

The ‌Powerbeats Pro‌ are larger with more available surface area, and they 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 are 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 suggest they are 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 $129, while ‌Powerbeats Pro‌ cost $250 – $121 more than the base model of the AirPods.

Processor, Sensors, and Siri Support

The ‌Powerbeats Pro‌ use the same H1 chip from the AirPods 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 when they are removed or inserted.

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 are 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 have 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 second-generation AirPods and the ‌Powerbeats Pro‌.

airpodsvspowerbeatspro

Bottom Line

Apple's second-generation AirPods and ‌Powerbeats Pro‌ earbuds are clearly aimed at different target markets. While the second-generation AirPods are designed for casual listening on a day to day basis, the more costly ‌Powerbeats Pro‌ are designed for vigorous 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 the second-generation AirPods 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 3
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Don't Buy)
Related Forum: AirPods

Top Rated Comments

AngerDanger Avatar
66 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
66 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
66 months ago
Thanks for this detailed breakdown of the difference between the two!
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
felixen Avatar
66 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
66 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
66 months ago
Why do people buy airpods?? They look ridiculous, and more importantly there are much much better options
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

iOS 18 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Friday April 12, 2024 11:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 is expected to be the "biggest" update in the iPhone's history. Below, we recap rumored features and changes for the iPhone. iOS 18 is rumored to include new generative AI features for Siri and many apps, and Apple plans to add RCS support to the Messages app for an improved texting experience between iPhones and Android devices. The update is also expected to introduce a more...
iGBA Feature

Game Boy Emulator for iPhone Now Available in App Store Following Rule Change [Removed]

Sunday April 14, 2024 8:06 am PDT by
A week after Apple updated its App Review Guidelines to permit retro game console emulators, a Game Boy emulator for the iPhone called iGBA has appeared in the App Store worldwide. The emulator is already one of the top free apps on the App Store charts. It was not entirely clear if Apple would allow emulators to work with all and any games, but iGBA is able to load any Game Boy ROMs that...
iGBA Feature

Apple Removes Game Boy Emulator iGBA From App Store Due to Spam and Copyright Violations

Sunday April 14, 2024 9:22 pm PDT by
Apple today said it removed Game Boy emulator iGBA from the App Store for violating the company's App Review Guidelines related to spam (section 4.3) and copyright (section 5.2), but it did not provide any specific details. iGBA was a copycat version of developer Riley Testut's open-source GBA4iOS app. The emulator rose to the top of the App Store charts following its release this weekend,...
iOS NES Emulator Bimmy Feature

NES Emulator for iPhone and iPad Now Available on App Store [Removed]

Tuesday April 16, 2024 11:33 am PDT by
The first approved Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) emulator for the iPhone and iPad was made available on the App Store today following Apple's rule change. The emulator is called Bimmy, and it was developed by Tom Salvo. On the App Store, Bimmy is described as a tool for testing and playing public domain/"homebrew" games created for the NES, but the app allows you to load ROMs for any...
m3 mbp space black

M4 Macs Are Expected to Launch in This Order Starting Later This Year

Sunday April 14, 2024 10:40 am PDT by
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman recently reported that the first Macs with M4 series chips will be released later this year, with more models to follow next year. In his Power On newsletter today, Gurman shared a more specific roadmap for these Macs. Here is the order in which Gurman expects the Macs to launch:1. A low-end 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M4, coming around the end of 2024. 2. A 24-inch ...
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Apple's First AI Features in iOS 18 Reportedly Won't Use Cloud Servers

Sunday April 14, 2024 9:52 am PDT by
Apple's first set of new AI features planned for iOS 18 will not rely on cloud servers at all, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. "As the world awaits Apple's big AI unveiling on June 10, it looks like the initial wave of features will work entirely on device," said Gurman, in the Q&A section of his Power On newsletter today. "That means there's no cloud processing component to the...
new best buy blue

Best Buy Opens Up Sitewide Sale With Record Low Prices on M3 MacBook Air, iPad, and Much More

Saturday April 13, 2024 7:41 am PDT by
Best Buy this weekend has a big sale on Apple MacBooks and iPads, including new all-time low prices on the M3 MacBook Air, alongside the best prices we've ever seen on MacBook Pro, iPad, and more. Some of these deals require a My Best Buy Plus or My Best Buy Total membership, which start at $49.99/year. In addition to exclusive access to select discounts, you'll get free 2-day shipping, an...