Hands Down, These Are the Best Running Headphones I’ve Ever Tested
The Powerbeats Pro ($250) are true wireless earbuds from the Apple-owned Beats that combine the design, sweat-resistance and sound of Beats’s Powerbeats3 Wireless ($200), a workout headphone staple, with the true wirelessness and functionality of Apple’s second-generation AirPods ($159+). They cost $250 and are available in four colors: black, navy, moss (green) and ivory (off-white).|
The Good: The Powerbeats Pro have almost all of the same conveniences of second-generation AirPods; they quickly pair to your iPhone, have “Hey Siri” functionality, and they have good sound and call quality. They also charge via your iPhone’s Lightning cable, leaving you with one less cable to carry. The Powerbeats Pro also offer a couple key upgrades over AirPods. They are sweat resistance (IPX4) so you don’t have to worry about your workout killing them, and their design gives them a more snug fit than old Powerbeats3 Wireless. (Great news if AirPods don’t fit in everybody’s ears.) They offer better battery life, an incredible nine hours for each earbud. And they come more colors than just white.
Who It’s For: Anybody with an iPhone looking for the best running true wireless earbuds that money can buy.
Watch Out For: The charging case of the Powerbeats Pro is huge, frankly. It’s roughly twice the size of the AirPods charging case and almost three times as heavy. There’s basically no way you’re fitting it into your pocket. The odd shape of each of the Powerbeats Pro’s earbuds makes it sometimes difficult getting them back inside the charging case. The experience is nowhere near as snappy as slipping AirPods back into their perfectly-sized charging case. Their odd shape can make it difficult to get them in your ears. They can’t wirelessly charge. They’ve got no sensors or coaching features, and they’re pretty expensive to boot.
Alternatives: The Powerbeats Pro are essentially the combination of Beats’s Powerbeats3 Wireless ($200) and Apple’s second-generation AirPods ($159+), meaning either is a sensible alternative. If you’re looking for great true wireless earbuds that, unlike AirPods, are also sweat resistant, you can go with the Jabra Elite Active 65t ($190) or the Jaybird Run XT ($150).
Verdict: The Powerbeats Pro are true wireless earbuds that are designed with a very specific type of person in mind. One who has an iPhone and wants earbuds specifically for working out. Yes, they are fairly expensive. And yes, the charging case is almost comically huge. It’d also be nice if there was some sort of coaching feature or built-in sensors to measure metrics like distance, heart rate or V02 max, but most athletes already have a wrist-bound wearable for stuff anyway.
The bottom line is that combination of fantastic battery life, fit and overall sound quality, plus the integration of Apple’s new H1 chip, make the Powerbeats Pro the best true wireless earbuds for running and working out that money can buy, if you’re ok with shelling out.
What Others Are Saying:
• “If you’re an iPhone user, AirPods can be attractive, but the PowerBeats Pro are the better companion for your smartphone. Sweat resistance, actual noise isolation, and a secure fit in your ears make these the true wireless earphones you want in Apple-land. Android users may find other options they like better, as these only support AAC.” — Christian Thomas, Sound Guys
• “The Powerbeats Pro are the best Beats product yet. They raise the bar for what can be expected of fitness and true wireless earphones, both in terms of sound quality and battery endurance. They improve on Apple’s own AirPods in tangible ways, and they shame rivals like Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless that can’t seem to be able to figure out the whole wireless connectivity issue.” — Vlad Savov, The Verge
• “We admire the Powerbeats Pro headphones for their build, their fit and their superb features. Thanks to the Apple H1 Bluetooth chip technology, they’re wonderfully easy to set up and use, and they’re virtually glitch-free in their delivery of wireless audio. But their musical performance brings them down. While not chronically bassy and replete with detail, they just don’t have the liveliness to keep us interested even in tracks we know and love..” — Anonymous, What Hi-Fi?
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Sensors: beam-forming mics, optical sensors, accelerometer
Battery: 9 hours listening time (24 hours with case), 3 hours talk time (18 hours with case)
Key Features: sweatproof (IPX4), hands-free “Hey Siri”
Apple provided this product for review.
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