Powerbeats Pro under test: the expensive sports AirPods
The Powerbeats Pro offer the same technology that Apple already delivers in the AirPods 2. Thanks to their ear hooks, they are also suitable for sports. They are also real in-ear headphones. But they are even more expensive than the regular AirPods 2. So, what do the Powerbeats Pro actually offer?
- Secure hold
- Sound quality
- Battery life
- Compatible with Apple products
- Not always comfortable
- No ANC
- Large case
- High price
Not a cheap product
Apple's Powerbeats Pro are already available and can be purchased through the Beats store as well as through Amazon or other resellers. However, the true wireless headphones are not cheap. You have to pay $249.95 if you want to call the sporty Beats in-ears your own. There is a choice of four colors: black, ivory white, navy blue and moss green.
Beats Powerbeats Pro design and build quality
Basically, the Powerbeats Pro look like the Powerbeats - only without cables. There is nothing wrong with the workmanship and the design is also simple. The charging contacts are on the underside and quite inconspicuous. On both sides, there is the beats button, which carries the logo and is the same color as the headphones. This looks chic and is discreet. There is also a small volume rocker on both sides. These are also quite inconspicuous. You can use the Beats button to pause and start playback. It also makes it easy to reject calls - and accept them, of course.
The Powerbeats Pro are also IPX4 certified and therefore protected against sweat and water. An absolute must for sports headphones. When worn, the earphones only protrude slightly from the ears. The ear hooks are also flexible.
The carry/charging case securely stores the earphones. As is usual with such headphones, a magnet holds them firmly in place. Even the case itself has a magnetic lid, and sometimes you have to put your fingernail in quite hard to get it apart. There is also nothing wrong with the hard shell plastic. Unfortunately, this cannot be said about the size of the case. It's enormous - and doesn't really fit in your pocket.
Welcome to Apple's world
Inside the Powerbeats Pro is the current H1 Bluetooth chipset from Apple , which also does its job in the AirPods 2. This is especially convenient when you use the headphones with an iPhone or other Apple device, because if you want to connect the Beats for the first time, all you have to do is place the case next to an iPhone and open it - and they appear on the phone's display. Confirm once and they're ready to go. If you repeat the whole thing once more, iOS shows you the charge status of the earphones and the case.
Another practical feature is that the Powerbeats Pro are automatically synchronized with your own iCloud account. That means they're instantly available on your iPad or MacBook after connecting. Switching between these devices couldn't be easier. No more annoying repairing when you want to change to another device.
Apple also promises a longer range with the H1 chip. In our test, it was actually possible to listen to music on the floor below our office while my iPhone was still on my desk upstairs. Thanks to the H1, "Hey Siri" also works, with which you can theoretically select a new album without having to put your hand on the smartphone. Furthermore, both earphones have sensors built-in and automatically detect when they are inserted into the ear. You can start the music playback independently if desired.
Of course, the Powerbeats Pro also works with Android smartphones. But then they behave like normal Bluetooth headphones. In this case, the advantages of the H1 chip don't really apply.
Secure fir, but are they also comfortable?
The Powerbeats Pro are clearly positioned as sports headphones and the manufacturer advertises that they are easy to use during physical exercise. It's true that they sit incredibly securely in your ears - especially compared to AirPods, of course. Because these are in-ears and because they have silicone tips, they always stay in place. Four different tips are included so that they fit neatly into your ear canal.
Unfortunately, I didn't find the Powerbeats Pro as comfortable as advertised. With the room to wiggle, I found a position that was okay for a period of time but they still bugged me a little bit. It was also more comfortable to put my glasses on only after the Powerbeats are in position, instead of attaching them to my ear while my glasses remain on my nose - and ears. The latter way provides additional pressure. On the other hand, they are very light at 20 grams.
Good sound, but without big beats
In addition to comfort, the sound is also important when it comes to headphones. Basically the Powerbeats Pro sound similar to Apple's AirPods. It's also largely the same technique at work. If you've used Beats headphones before, you'll have to make some adjustments. The sound is quite balanced, sometimes even a bit high. Very emphasized bass is definitely no longer available here. Sometimes I actually missed a more powerful bass frequency - the equalizer presets that iOS brings with it didn't help much. But everything sounds quite dynamic. It should also be noted that Apple relies on AAC under iOS. So you have to do without Qualcomm's aptX with these headphones.
A difference compared to the AirPods quickly becomes noticeable: since the Powerbeats Pro, unlike Apple's other true-wireless headphones, protrude into the ear canal, the sound is basically even better and clearer. This also helps to shield out outside noise. Active Noise Canceling (ANC) doesn't exist here and so you can always hear what's going on around you - even if you can't make out any sentences from conversations on public transport, you can still hear the conversations. Given the price, ANC would have been really desirable. This is certainly not so important for sports, but then the question arises whether one really buys these headphones exclusively for sports. A microphone is of course built-in and can be used for Siri and telephone calls. This works very well.
Impressive battery life
Apple has given the Powerbeats a battery life of nine hours for the earphones, and our test confirmed this. The charging case provides a further 24 hours of running time, which I also certainly believe. In fact, I rarely recharged the case. By the way, this charges via a Lightning cable, which shouldn't be a surprise.
If you put the headphones back in the case for five minutes, you get 1.5 hours more battery life. So you can not only charge your batteries during a training break, but also recharge them. The pros and cons are evenly balanced with the Powerbeats Pro. If you are looking for true wireless earphones to play with, you should take a look at the new Powerbeats. Especially if your planning on using them with an iPhone.
The Powerbeats Pro are good. That's actually how you could leave it. Because they didn't completely thrill me. I don't think they're comfortable enough for that. The sound, on the other hand, is generally convincing, but for $250 I would have really wished for proper ANC. On the other hand, the battery life is convincing. The carry case, on the other hand, is so large that it is almost ridiculous. I didn't carry it around with me.
The price is really high. Especially when you consider that the Powerbeats Pro only differ from AirPods mainly in terms of the ear hooks and the in-ear design. But the sound quality of the AirPods is very similar to the Powerbeats Pro, and they are cheaper and the case is much, much smaller.