Apple’s bet on AirPods three years ago paid off spectacularly when the wireless earbuds quickly became big sellers. Now the company is trying to repeat some of that success by bringing fully wireless earbuds to its Beats brand, the headphone company co-founded by rapper and producer Dr. Dre that Apple acquired in 2014.
The Powerbeats Pro, which debuted earlier this month, is often compared to AirPods. The two provide wireless listening with built-in controls to change volume and to accept or decline a call without users having to pick up their phones. But while the earbuds share some features, they also differ in a number of areas.
Here’s how the new Powerbeats Pro and the AirPods compare.
Powerbeats Pro Has Superior Sound Quality—For a Price
A question to ask when buying headphones, wireless or not, is how much you’re willing to pay for better sound quality. The Powerbeats Pro costs $250, compared to $160 for the original AirPod model, and $200 for the newest version. It seems like a big spread in price for similar products. But the Powerbeats Pro does offer superior sound quality because it’s better at blocking out ambient noise and because of its upgraded driver. The extra cost is worth it for audiophiles who are looking for true wireless headphones or someone who wants some noise reduction without investing in true noise-cancelling headphones that can cost up to $400.
Both are Good at the Gym, But Powerbeats Pro is Better
Apple has emphasized using AirPods and Powerbeats Pro while at the gym. Both fit securely enough that, generally, they won’t fall off. However, Powerbeats Pro is just a bit better during workouts. The over-the-ear design makes them more likely to stay in place. Though many people have no problem running and jumping with AirPods, some do. While there are accessories like covers that create a better grip and can minimize this problem, the Beats are a better option.
Comfort is Relative
Powerbeats Pro is not meant for all ears. Just like some people have trouble getting AirPods to stay on during a run, some others can experience issues wearing the Beats for long periods of time. For me, the headphones felt like they pushed against the outer part of my ear, leaving them sore afterward. However, others who tried them said they were comfortable. Unfortunately, you can only figure this out by trying them yourself.
The Portability of AirPods Can’t Be Beat
One of the biggest advantages of the AirPods’ case is its size, making it easy to carry in a pocket. The case for the Powerbeats Pro, however, is much larger primarily because of the design of the headphones. If you want a good pair of true wireless headphones that fit easily into your pocket, the case combined with the hefty price tag mean the AirPods are likely a better bet.