Apple subsidiary Beats is rolling out a fully wireless version of its Powerbeats earphones, following the recent announcement of the new AirPods. The new Powerbeats Pro have been re-engineered from the ground up, while still retaining the signature Beats style, including sporty colors and those familiar earhooks.
The current Powerbeats 3 earphones are already “wireless,” but like many models, they’re connected with a band or tether to an in-line remote. The Powerbeats Pro, announced on April 3, are fully wireless like the AirPods. DT’s Julian Chokkattu spent some time with the new earbuds. His review called them “leaps and bounds more contemporary than their predecessors,” and there’s good reason to believe these will be Apple’s best wireless earbuds. Here’s everything we know so far about the Powerbeats Pro.
Powerbeats Pro in action
As part of the marketing campaign leading up to the release of the Powerbeats Pro in May, Apple/Beats partnered with a host of high-profile athletes, from Olympic champion gymnast Simone Biles to NBA legend Lebron James and star NFL receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The marketing team also worked with musician Beck on a song called Saw Lightning and with director Hiro Murai on this teaser video (above) showing the athletes wearing the Powerbeats Pro while practicing.
The video uses impressive stabilizing techniques in the cinematography in an attempt to accent just how well the sports-ready earbuds stay in place under duress. While it’s essentially just a commercial for the earbuds, it is an impressive way to drive home how much the Powerbeats Pro may appeal to those who feel the AirPods just aren’t well-equipped for vigorous activity.
As referenced above, the latest from Beats are a sportier alternative to the AirPods — perhaps explaining why Apple didn’t deem it necessary to add features like a more secure fit or waterproofing to its latest AirPods. These were among the upgrades expected ahead of the AirPods announcement, but true to the prediction of famed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in December, the AirPods received only minor updates.
One of the first things we noticed in our hands-on review is the sheer size of the Powerbeats Pro’s charging case, which will serve as their home when not in use. In part to account for those earhooks, the case is much larger than the AirPods’ charging case and also trumps those from other competitors like Samsung’s Galaxy Buds.
While you may have trouble fitting the case in smaller pockets, the earbuds themselves are actually a shade smaller than previous Powerbeats models, allowing them to more easily fit on your ears. We quite enjoyed the fit in our initial trial, thanks in part to a 17-percent reduction in weight.
One thankful addition to the Powerbeats Pro’s design is water-resistance, something we were really hoping for with the updated AirPods that didn’t happen (making us wonder, is it worth getting the upgraded AirPods at all?). Apple doesn’t disclose IP ratings for its headphones, but the Powerbeats Pro should hold up against rain and sweat — just don’t submerge them.
Perhaps the most impressive stat of all for Beats’ new Powerbeats Pro is their 9-hour battery life, which far outdoes the majority of fully wireless competitors, including the AirPods (which pack just 5 hours per charge). This means that, while the case may be bulky, you likely won’t need to pack it along for most outings. The case itself offers two additional charges for over 24 hours, standing up with the total reserve power of the AirPods and besting most other competitors.
While the charging case won’t charge wirelessly like the $199 AirPods package, it does offer quick charging for a full hour of playback on just a 5-minute charge, and a claimed 4.5 hours of playback on a 15-minute charge. Like the AirPods, the Powerbeats Pro also pause when pulled out of your ears to conserve battery life, thanks to internal accelerometers.
Hardware and controls
The Powerbeats Pro feature Apple’s H1 chip, which is also found in the new AirPods. The new chip is designed to improve the audio experience and wireless synchronization. The H1 chip also enables always-on Siri, allowing wearers to call Apple’s digital assistant with the wake words “Hey, Siri,” instead of having to tap on the earphones.
As for onboard controls, each Powerbeats Pro earbud sports dual control buttons, including a volume rocker on the top and a multifunction button below. The buttons can be used on either earbud, allowing you to use just one if you choose, and the multifunction key allows you to do things like answer phone calls or call up Siri with a hold.
While we’ve yet to spend quality time with the Powerbeats Pro, our initial impressions are a good sign. Listening to a couple of songs revealed clear and potent sound, with musical bass that doesn’t cloud the upper registers. You can read more about our initial sound impressions in our hands-on review.
Price and availability
For all they offer, the new Powerbeats Pro do come with a serious price tag of $250. That’s almost $100 more than the original AirPods and over $50 more than the version that comes with a wireless charging case, a feature the new Powerbeats Pro do not include. That hefty premium outpaces the vast majority of true wireless earbuds we review, and makes the $130 Samsung Galaxy buds look like an absolute steal.
Still, if you’re looking for serious sports earbuds with impressive specs, the Powerbeats Pro may well be worth the extra money. We’ll know more after our forthcoming full review, so be sure and check back with us soon. The Powerbeats Pro are expected to be available for purchase in May.
Updated 4-15-2019: Added marketing footage from Beats showing the Powerbeats Pro in action.
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