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 Beats Flex are Apple's latest neckband Bluetooth earbuds, and bring many of the fancy features of its AirPods to headphones costing just one third of the price. The new Beats cost £49.99 and replace the £129 Beats X as the firm's cheapest wireless earbuds, sitting below the £129.95 In the world of true wireless Bluetooth earbuds, the older-style neckband models typically occupy the cheaper end of the market. They have wires connecting the earbuds to each other but Bluetooth to the phone. The Flex earbuds are well designed with a balanced fit featuring two pods either side of a flat, semi-flexible cable that rests on the back of the neck. The earbuds are then connected to the pods via further flat, flexible cables.
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 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.
While some people might decry the act of running while blaring tunes, claiming it distracts you from the objectively arduous task at hand (that is, flinging your body through space at speed for miles on end), I wholeheartedly disagree. Whether you're jogging, lifting, skating, or just spending a lot more time indoors due to increasingly restrictive government mandates, you're gonna want some headphones to keep the party going in your head. To that end, Apple-owned audio company Beats now has a new version of its workout-focused Powerbeats headphones, a sort of little brother to the truly wireless Powerbeats Pro. At $149, the Powerbeats won't outshine the pricier Pro model, but it does make for a decent pair of headphones at a fair price if you can get over some potential dealbreakers. The new Powerbeats, which look more streamlined compared to the $199 Powerbeats released in 2016, are in-ear headphones with adjustable rubber hooks that loop around the back of the ear.