Powerbeats Pro Review vs. AirPods 2: Amazing for Running But It’ll Cost You

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Apple released a new version of Beats Powerbeats Pro wireless headphones earlier this month, and we recently spent some time with them, comparing them to the company’s AirPods 2.

Here’s our quick review of how Powerbeats Pro perform when it comes to workouts and more.

Unboxing Powerbeats Pro

Powerbeats Pro come in a black box, with its size just slightly larger than two AirPods boxes stacked on top of each other.

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Once you eyes see the Powerbeats Pro charging case, it is much larger than you expect. Maybe after using AirPods and its tiny dental floss-like packaging spoils us:

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Opening the Powerbeats Pro charging case with its slippery black matte finish feels like opening up a jewelry box. Included in the box is a black Lightning USB charging cable and three sets of ear tips to get the right fit for your ears.

Powerbeats Pro fit into the charging case easily with magnets. The first couple of times took my brain a few seconds or so to remember the charging orientation. It’s not like AirPods where they just insert in one way:

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Aside from the usual quick start guide, you also get a red Beats sticker:

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Powerbeats Pro feel light in the hand and come with a side button where you see the Beats logo, for play/pause (single press) and skipping tracks (double press or triple press).

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There’s also a rocker button for volume up and down on each headphone:

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Pairing Powerbeats Pro for the First Time: Easy as Pie

If you’ve ever paired AirPods with your iPhone, pairing Powerbeats Pro is the same process. Just open up the charging case with the headphones inside next to your device and tap ‘connect’. It’s just too easy.

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Out of the box, I tried on Powerbeats Pro using the default ear tips. They fit well on my ears and the first thing I noticed was how snug the fit was and the noise cancellation factor. The tight fit with your ears will block out external noise, which also makes Powerbeats Pro great for noisy environments, such as an airplane.

To dial in the fit of Powerbeats Pro, just rotate each earbud when on your ear so the hook really grabs and ear tips go into your ear. These are damn comfortable headphones, even with ear hooks.

Powerbeats Pro Sound Quality

Listening to some hip hop tracks, Powerbeats Pro has very good bass and volume levels are louder than AirPods. The snug fit makes sure you get to hear everything on your music tracks. There’s a good balance of lows, mids and highs, while vocals sound clear as well.

Beyond listening to music, Powerbeats Pro are actually great for movies as well. Watching the Dark Knight Rises and Mission: Impossible – Fallout on Netflix with Powerbeats Pro was a fantastic experience, offering loud bass unavailable with AirPods. Yeah, I can see myself using these all the time instead of my AirPods 2 for media consumption.

Testing Powerbeats Pro on a Run 

Powerbeats Pro are geared towards fitness buffs (#fitfam) and I tested them out on a quick run, a short 5km banger (there’s nothing like picking up your preschooler as the sweaty af dad). I’ve tried AirPods before on runs but they always fall out of my ears, unable to stay put from the constant pounding of the pavement. Other cheaper over-the-ear headphones from Anker and MPOW for example, kept falling out of my ears too.

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But with Powerbeats Pro, with the default ear tips, they stayed in place without any adjustments at all during my run. The side button to change music tracks offers satisfying presses, while the volume rocker makes it easy to adjust the volume. Talk about a gamechanger for all you runners out there. These button controls can’t be customized in settings, unlike the touch controls on AirPods, however.

The fit of Powerbeats Pro are so snug, the outside world disappears so it’s just you and your music. This can be a good thing while you’re fighting demons on your run, but the downside is you need to be extra vigilant when crossing streets and being aware of your surroundings, since you won’t be able to hear cars, people and other haters coming up behind you.

Powerbeats Pro utilize the new H1 chip within AirPods 2, offering always-on ‘Hey Siri’ and faster connections to your devices. While on my run, I was able to control my music and send messages and initiate a phone call. Just be wary of how loud you’re yelling commands because the noise cancellation of Powerbeats are so good, you may look like a crazy person shouting at Siri on your soft jog.

Sweating is no problem for Powerbeats Pro as they are IPX4 rated, meaning they can resist splashes of water and your perspiration.

I didn’t do a full battery test of Powerbeats Pro, but the advertised listening time is 9 hours, while with AirPods Apple says five hours are available. With the larger physical footprint of Powerbeats, you get more battery life and also better sound. They definitely lasted longer than my AirPods.

Powerbeats Pro vs AirPods 2: Which One Should You Buy?

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If you’re trying to decide between Powerbeats Pro and AirPods 2, price is probably one of the biggest deciding factors. The new Powerbeats Pro cost $329 in Canada, whereas AirPods 2 are $219, a $110 difference. But if you’re able to get a PSP discount (save $50) at The Source, I’d jump on Powerbeats Pro.

Powerbeats Pro also comes in black, white, navy blue, green and olive, while AirPods 2 are just available in white.

AirPods are more convenient to carry around since they are so tiny. The Powerbeats Pro charging case is quite thick and when it’s in your pocket, a huge girthy bulge will show (especially for skinny jeans; cue the ‘are you happy to see me or are those Powerbeats Pro in your pocket’ jokes).

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But with Powerbeats Pro, the extra ‘bulk’ may be worth it for the superior sound quality versus AirPods 2. Deep lows will please bass lovers, in a package that won’t fall out of your ears and with noise cancellation due to the snug fit. You can also rest assured you won’t damage your headphones during hard workouts involving lots of sweat, unlike AirPods. The only thing taking a hit will be your wallet given the premium pricing of Powerbeats Pro.

Over the course of a week, I’ve found myself reaching for Powerbeats Pro over my latest AirPods. The better sound quality and equally quick connections to my Apple devices, plus longer battery life have won me over. The only ‘X’ factor you miss out on is being seen as a millennial ‘hypebeast’ with Powerbeats Pro versus AirPods (which may or may not be a bad thing), for now.

Click here to buy Powerbeats Pro from Apple.ca for $329.

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