Although they look very different, Beats' true wireless buds sport much of the same inner technology as the iconic AirPods, thanks to the inclusion of Apple's new H1 headphone chip, which offers "faster connect times, more talk time, and the convenience of hands-free Siri".
Cut to the chase
- What are they? Beats' first true wireless earbuds, the Powerbeats Pro.
- When are they out? May 10, but you can preorder them in the US now.
- What do they cost? The Powerbeats Pro cost $249 / £219 / AU$350.
Powerbeats Pro price and release date
The Powerbeats Pro are set for release on May 10, but you can already preorder them in the US and Canada – in other regions, including the UK and Australia, you can subscribe to a mailing list and Apple will notify you when they are available to purchase.
With a price tag of $249 / £219 / AU$350, the Powerbeats Pro are around the same price as the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds, which impressed us with their stylish design and high quality audio.
They're not cheap for true wireless earbuds, especially when you compare them to the Apple AirPods (2019), which cost $159/£159/AU$249 with the standard charging case, and $199/£199/AU$319 with the new Wireless Charging Case bundled in.
We're currently testing Beats' true wireless earbuds, so we will be able to assess whether that high price is justified in terms of design, features, battery, and audio quality.
Despite their shared H1 chip, there are a few big difference between the two true wireless earbuds – one of which is their purpose.
While the Apple AirPods (2019) are designed for casual listening, the Powerbeats Pro are made for listening to music while working out, with a water-resistant design (so you’re protected during sweaty sessions at the gym), as well as ear hooks to keep them snugly in your ear while running.
They also come with removable silicone eartips in a range of sizes, so you should be able to find the right fit for you fairly easily. This is in stark contrast to the rigid design aesthetic of the Apple AirPods (2019), which offer no such conveniences.
The Powerbeats Pro trump the Apple AirPods (2019) in terms of battery life, with around nine hours from the earbuds themselves, and around 24 hours of battery life when combined with the charging case.
In comparison, the AirPods (2019) have five hours of battery life within the buds, but make up for this with the additional 20 hours of juice contained within the wireless charging case.
In terms of sound, we're expecting the Powerbeats Pro Beats to have a bassier soundstage than the AirPods (2019), thanks to the inclusion of linear piston drivers that are designed to displace air more efficiently than the dynamic drivers used by the AirPods.
- Read our full analysis: Apple AirPods (2019) vs Powerbeats Pro: the battle of Apple's true wireless earbuds
Powerbeats Pro features
Thanks to the inclusion of Apple’s newly-designed H1 chip, the Beats Powerbeats Pro are designed to work seamlessly with iPhones, so you only need to open the charging case for the option to pair to pop up on your screen.
They also feature a hands-free ‘Hey Siri’ feature, which lets you summon Apple’s artificially intelligent assistant with your voice – handy if you're working out and don't want to dig your phone out of your pocket.
To help with this, the Powerbeats Pro have two beam-forming microphones on each earbud to filter out external sounds such as wind and ambient noise, as well as a super-sensitive speech-detecting accelerometer in the bud that’s used to enhance speech recognition, all of which is designed to stop you looking dumb when walking down the road asking Siri to do things repetitively.
The earbuds are also touch sensitive, allowing you to control your music playback – and they're fully ambidextrous, which means that the same gestures work in exactly the same way no matter which earbud you tap.
Another useful workout feature is the inclusion of optical sensors that allow the earbuds to automatically pause when you remove them, which is great if you quickly need to tune into your surroundings and don’t have time to halt your music. Your music will start up again once you place the earbuds back in.
Powerbeats Pro sound quality
Beats by Dre headphones have been criticized in the past for being too bass-heavy, too brash, and ultimately unsuitable for any true discerning audiophile.
So, will the Powerbeats Pro finally prove the critics wrong? When we spoke to Beats' CEO Luke Brown, he told us that brand's reputation for overly bass-heavy products was “absolutely taken into consideration” when creating the new PowerBeats Pro.
He also said that the company has “got better and learned the tools of [its] trade” in the years after it released its first studio headphones in 2008, and that the new true wireless earbuds are “the culmination of the full integration of [Beats and Apple] working together from a technological standpoint.''
Of course, true wireless earbuds aren't ever likely to measure up to the audio quality of a pair of the best over-ear headphones, but the use of pistonic drivers should ensure the Powerbeats Pro avoid unwanted distortion.
According to US audio company Vandersteen, if the driver cone "stays rigid and moves in and out in truly pistonic fashion, distortion is avoided and the purest replica possible of the signal from the amplifer is produced by the speaker" – or in this case, the earbuds.
Their in-ear design and the inclusion of different sized ear tips should also contribute to noise isolation, with a snug fit ensuring that a lot of environmental noise is physically blocked out from your ears.
Of course, we'll be able to give a definitive assessment of the sound quality when we carry out our full review – but if you're looking for high-end, true wireless earbuds that work well with the iPhone while you work out, these could be a smart choice.