If you’re looking for the perfect pair of wireless earbuds, you may be choosing between Apple’s second-generation AirPods and the Powerbeats Pro.
At $160, the regular AirPods work great for everyday listening. But the $250 Powerbeats Pro offers some extra bells and whistles that could make them a better pick for certain users.
Apple also has the new AirPods Pro that offers active noise cancellation for the same price as the Powerbeats Pro.
We’ve compiled the pros and cons of each earphone to help you determine which is right for you.
AIRPODS VS. POWERBEATS PRO
AirPods Powerbeats Pro
Connectivity H1 chip H1 chip
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Battery 5 hours 9 hours
Charging case Yes Yes
Battery (case) 24 hours 24 hours
Fast charge 15 minutes = 3 hrs 5 minutes = 1.5 hrs
Adjustable ear tips No Yes
Adjustable fit No Yes
Hey Siri support Yes Yes
Noise isolation No Yes
Controls Tap controls Physical buttons
Price $159 at Amazon $250 at Amazon
Are they small and light, or sporty and durable?
At first glance, you wouldn’t really know these two earphones are made by the same company. They have completely different designs. The AirPods are light and small, and rest gently in the ear, the Powerbeats are definitely more clunky and invasive as they sit in further in your ear canal. They have interchangeable in-ear tips and plastic ear hooks that clip around the ear for a more secure fit than the AirPods.
While the AirPods have a more comfortable fit, they don’t always stay in place and depending on the shape of your ear, they may not fit at all. The Powerbeats are slightly heavier in the ear, but chances are you will find the right fit with one of the different ear-tips and they will stay put no matter how much you move.
The Powerbeats come in white, navy, moss and black while the AirPods are only white. The black Powerbeats were great at hiding dirt and smudges. They also looked more discreet despite their size against our dark hair. The AirPods aren’t as easy to disguise because of the white tube that sticks out of the bottom.
The Powerbeats are also sweat-resistant and water-resistant so you won’t have to worry about those sweaty workout sessions, rainy commutes or the occasional toddler slobber.
Both the Powerbeats and AirPods come with a portable case that doubles as a charger and a place to store the buds. But the Powerbeats’ 3 by 3-inch case looks massive relative to the dental floss-sized AirPods case. It also feels about 10 times heavier than that of the AirPods and will be tough to hide in most pant pockets.
Seamless compatibility with Apple devices, different controls
If you have an iPhone or Apple device, both will pair automatically as soon as you open the case which is the main reason why you would choose one of these over their competitors. Android users can also pair the buds manually through the Bluetooth settings and then pressing the button on their respective cases. They also have the same H1 chip under the hood, which brings Bluetooth 5 support and hands-free Siri. Take one out of your ear to pause the music automatically.
Physical Buttons vs Gesture Controls
What sets them apart in terms of features is that the Powerbeats have physical buttons while the AirPods have gesture controls (double tap on the side of the buds). You can pause and play songs, skip tracks forward and back or summon Siri if you customize the controls in the Bluetooth settings. (Siri isn’t available on Android devices.) The Powerbeats have a physical volume rocker to control audio. The only way to do this on the AirPods sans phone is with Siri. Unlike the AirPods, you can’t customize what the button presses do with the Powerbeats.
Only the AirPods can be located with the Find My iPhone app. Again it’s only for iOS, but it may come in handy if you want to see the last location of your buds.
Sound quality and call quality
Apple says sound quality was its top priority when designing the new Powerbeats and they do sound a bit better and clearer than the AirPods. Their closed design also makes it so that they don’t let in as much ambient noise and you don’t have to rely on cranking up the volume if you’re walking through noisy streets. That said, the audio quality on the AirPods sound is not too far behind, and for $250 we expected a bit more from the Powerbeats.
The bass is definitely better on the Powerbeats than it is on the AirPods, as expected given they are in the Beats family of headphones.
In terms of calls, both have great sounding microphones and do a good job of filtering out ambient noise. The Powerbeats may sound a bit clearer, while the AirPods have slightly better voice isolation.
Each case has a Lightning port. The AirPods also have an optional wireless charging case that costs extra. It’s $200 if you buy it with the AirPods or $70 if you buy it separately. There is no wireless charging option for the Powerbeats.
So the best ones are…
The Powerbeats Pro has a clear advantage when it comes to battery life between charges, durability and customizable fit. While they sound great, to our ears they’re not a significant step over the AirPods — but the noise isolation is much better thanks to their design. The biggest downside though is price, and at $250 they might not be worth the splurge if you’re just looking for some everyday buds.
The base model of the AirPods costs almost $100 less. They’re lighter and may be more comfortable for prolonged use, depending on your ear shape. We also liked the customizable touch controls and, of course, the price.
Depending on what you exactly desire, both are very good options, it is all up to personal preference.