Apple's revamped Powerbeats Bluetooth workout earphones take what was great from the firm's true wireless earbuds and add a cable, longer battery life and cheaper price. Powerbeats replace the older, more expensive Powerbeats 3, with redesigned ear hooks, cable guides and Apple's H1 chip, which simplifies Bluetooth connectivity and gives them all the AirPods-like features Apple's headphones have with iPhones. The design of the Powerbeats is pretty simple. Each earphone's body has an earbud sticking out of one side with a traditional silicone ear tip that twists into your ear canal. The other end has an hook that loops over the back of your ear, holding it in place and neatly guiding the cable backwards rather than in front of your ear like its predecessors.
Beats by Dre's Powerbeats earphones have been a mainstay in the wireless headphone genre for years, and things have only gotten more interesting since Apple took over. With the Powerbeats Pro, Beats stepped into the true wireless market alongside other fully wireless earbuds like Apple's own AirPods, offering impressive new features and the best sound from Beats earbuds yet. Enter the Powerbeats, which knock a full $100 off the price of their "Pro" sibling, while offering most of the same features. Unlike the Powerbeats Pro, the Powerbeats are connected by a small wire, similar to 2016's Powerbeats3, and other models. There are other differences too, so read on to get the goods on what's new in the latest Powerbeats, what's missing, and which pair is right for you.
The PowerBeats Pro are Apple-owned Beats' first true wireless Bluetooth earbuds that cut the cable and seek to be the ultimate running and gym earphones. As with Apple's original AirPods, which looked like a set of the firm's standard EarPods with the cables cut off, the £220 PowerBeats Pro are basically the firm's popular PowerBeats 3 neckband Bluetooth earbuds without the cables joining the pair. That includes the signature ear hook, which tucks behind the top of your ear to hold the earbuds in place. As such the PowerBeats Pro are neither small nor subtle. They come in black, but also a series of attractive colours such as a dark green.
The Apple AirPods Pro stand tall as our pick for the best overall true wireless earbuds right now. Apple's AirPods Pro take everything we love about the traditional AirPods and ramp things up a notch (or three). They sound better than all Apple earbuds before them, deliver excellent noise reduction, and add proper water-resistance (finally). What's more, these are the first Apple earbuds with swappable silicone ear tips, making it easy for just about anyone to get a comfortable fit. While battery life is middling at 4.5 to 5 hours (some competitors offer 10 hours or more on a single charge), the pocket-friendly charging case holds multiple recharges for 24 hours total listening time. In addition, quick charging provides an hour of listening in just five minutes, so you'll rarely need to worry about dead earbuds. In our lab tests, we found the AirPods Pro's noise cancellation was on par with pricier noise-canceling headphones, with a minimal hit to battery life. Their Transparency Mode is also among the most effective and natural-sounding we've experienced, allowing you to pipe in the outside world for those times you want to be aware of your surroundings.
When Beats released the truly wireless Powerbeats Pro last year, it was a kind of dream product for Beats fans. Except for the downside of its bulky charging case, the Powerbeats Pro were essentially AirPods on steroids, with richer, more dynamic sound and better battery life -- and they stayed in your ears more securely, particularly during athletic activities. Now Beats is going retro on us and bringing back the standard "wired/wireless" Powerbeats. These are basically the Powerbeats Pro but there's a cord between the buds, which are still wireless to the phone. They run $150, or $100 less than the list price of the Powerbeats Pro.