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Beats Powerbeats Pro vs. Bose SoundSport Free

If you’re a workout enthusiast, you’ve probably been eyeing a pair of true wireless headphones to cut the cord on your sweat-filled excursions.

Good news! Two of the biggest headphone manufacturers have both dipped their toes in the wireless in-ear waters, offering varying takes on the genre for your potential satisfaction.

Here are all the similarities and differences between the Beats Powerbeats Pro and Bose SoundSport Free, to help you decide which pair is right for you.

Design

Both headphones are a bit larger than your typical true wireless headphones, with the Powerbeats Pro offering an earhook-style design, and the Bose SoundSport offering an earfin-laden inner section with large flat discs on the outside to house the battery and other components. If you like to match your tech to your wardrobe, each gives you four colors to choose from. The Powerbeats Pro come in the muted tones of ivory, moss, navy, and black, while the SoundSport Free offer up three very punchy hues: Blue, orange, and ultraviolet (plus black, naturally).

It feels odd to say this given the fact that they are so large, but the Powerbeats look a bit sleeker when they’re actually on your head. That’s because the SoundSport stick out fairly far from your ears, making you look like some kind of workout monster that’s been assembled by Dr. Frankenstein.

Neither offers the same small, ergonomic design as, say, the 1More Stylish or Samsung Galaxy Buds, but in a head-to-head shootout, we’ve got to give it to Beats.

Winner: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Features and controls

Both headphones feature a full array of physical controls to allow you to change songs, play and pause music, and adjust volume without having to grab your cell phones.

On the Powerbeats Pro, you’ll find a multi-function button on the outside of each headphone for playing and pausing tunes, and a volume rocker on top. The SoundSport have all three controls in a line on the top of the headphones. Which sets of controls you prefer are totally up to you, but we put them as equal.

Another place where they’re both equal? Waterproofing. Both have an IPX4 rating, which means they can withstand even the sweatiest workouts.

The Powerbeats Pro do have one small technical advantage for iOS users, which is that Apple’s H1 chip inside the headphones enables you to verbally ask for Siri and Apple’s voice assistant, no buttons required. That’s pretty cool if you’ve got an iPhone, but there are some drawbacks to the Powerbeats Pro on Android — namely that they don’t tell you how much battery is left in your phone’s screen. That’s annoying, especially since the Bose will tell you how much battery life you have left as soon as you put them in your ears.

Because each pair of headphones has a small leg up on the other in one way or another, but because they are largely the same in terms of features, we’re going to call this one a tie.

Winner: Tie

Charging case

Both headphones feature fairly large charging cases, owing to the sheer size of each pair of headphones. Still, this is one category where we have a clear winner. The charging case for the SoundSport Free only boasts 10 hours of reserve juice, where the Powerbeats Pro offer 18.

Size be damned, the Powerbeats have the better case, due to sheer battery life alone.

Winner: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Battery life

Here’s another place where we’ve got ourselves a clear winner: The Powerbeats Pro.

With 9 hours of playback per charge, the Beats are some of the longest-lasting true wireless headphones on the market today. At 5 hours per charge, the Bose are no slouch, but they are thoroughly routed by the Powerbeats Pro.

Winner: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Sound quality

Bose has a history of offering very scooped sound profiles — meaning they cut some of the midrange in favor of bass and highs — and that is very apparent on the SoundSport Free. They don’t sound terrible, but they come across as significantly more muddled than the Powerbeats Pro, which have a remarkably clear sound profile from bottom to top.

Apple has clearly worked hard with the Beats team to get rid of some of the often-muddy bass response that the headphone company is known for, instead offering a robust low end that pairs well with clarity in the mid and high ranges.

Neither pair of headphones sound bad, but we’ve got to give it to the Powerbeats Pro here — they are a great-sounding pair of wireless earbuds.

Winner: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Connection Reliability

The biggest gripe we have about the Powerbeats Pro comes in terms of connection reliability. We had numerous blips and dropouts during our testing period with two different pairs of the headphones, so those who are concerned about connection quality may want to think twice before purchasing a pair.

We had no issues when testing the Bose SoundSport Free, so we’ve got to give them the win here.

Winner: Bose SoundSport Free

Overall

This is a bit of a toughie, because we have real concerns about the connection issues of the Powerbeats Pro, and because the SoundSport Free are $50 less at the store — retailing for $200 compared to $250 for the Powerbeats. Still, I think we have to give it to the Powerbeats here. With better battery life, sound, and a cleaner design, we think you’ll be happier with the newer Beats option.

Winner: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Powerbeats Pro:

SoundSport Free:

Editors' Recommendations