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Apple AirPods v PowerBeats Pro

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The charging case for the PowerBeats Pro is huge — at least in comparison with that of the AirPods. But it offers a much greater battery life. The ear pods themselves also hold a nine-hour charge so you can safely leave the case at home if you don't want to carry it around.

My new Apple PowerBeats Pro wireless headphones arrived this week, among the first batch to be delivered in the UK. They have replaced the generation one AirPods and I much prefer them for the greater sense of security they provide.

I was an early adopter of the Apple AirPods and continue to believe they are the most convenient earphones you can buy. Initially, they looked rather outlandish with their white legs, but now you see them everywhere and they have become almost normal. Yet they are not without problems in terms of security.

The charging case for the PowerBeats Pro is huge — at least in comparison with that of the AirPods. But it offers a much greater battery life. The ear pods themselves also hold a nine-hour charge so you can safely leave the case at home if you don't want to carry it around.
The charging case for the PowerBeats Pro is huge — at least in comparison with the AirPods case. But it offers a much greater battery life. The ear pods themselves also hold a nine-hour charge so you can safely leave the case at home if you don’t want to carry it around.

Podcasts

I use headphones mainly for listening to podcasts and the radio, so sound quality is not a major consideration. I’m looking more for convenience, lack of connection problems and seamless stop-start when I remove the pods from my ears. In this, the AirPods are without compare — when used with Apple devices, of course. Everything is just so smooth and trouble free.

But there is one thing I never got used to with the AirPods. They had an annoying habit of falling out, usually at the most inconvenient times and in circumstances where they could easily have been lost for good. Not everyone has experienced this, of course, and it is very much a personal situation. The AirPods either stay in or they don’t, depending on your particular ears.

When the PowerBeats Pro headphones were announced I was immediately interested. They are designed for sports use and are very unlikely to fall out. With the in-ear design and the over-ear wings, they inspire much more confidence. As a result, even though I don’t do extreme sports, the PowerBeats fit into my life really well.

Impressed

I’ve been using the PowerBeats Pro now for several days and am highly impressed in every respect. For me, they are so much better than the AirPods, despite the larger size and the very large charging case. This is a case you probably will not want to carry around in your pocket.

On the other hand, the case is big enough to ensure that you are less likely to lose it than the relatively small AirPods case. I’ve had a few near misses with the white AirPods case in this respect and, eventually, I bought a rubberised outer skin with wriststrap to reduce the risk of loss.

The case of the PowerBeats Pro does have the advantage of housing a larger battery which, together with the batteries in the earphones, ensures a 24-hour life. The buds alone give a nine-hour life so it’s possible to leave the battery case at home and just travel with the PowerBeats. This is not the case with the smaller AirPods.

The PowerBeats Pro, unlike the Apple AirPods, are unlikely to fall out, even during strenuous activity. They are neater and less obtrusive than you would imagine and fit comfortably, even for long periods of use
The PowerBeats Pro, unlike the Apple AirPods, are unlikely to fall out, even during strenuous activity. They are neater and less obtrusive than you would imagine and fit comfortably, even for long periods of use

Convenience

The PowerBeats Pro are identical to the AirPods in terms of convenience, pairing and use. They do however have the advantage of physical buttons — rocker volume and track controls on both buds. I like this direct control and admit that I often struggled with the tap-tap interface of the original AirPods.

As I said, sound quality is not a major consideration for me. In fact, I have been using just one pod when listening to podcasts. But when listening to music and using both pods, I feel that the quality of sound is marginally better than that from the AirPods. At any rate, I am perfectly happy with the performance.

Several reviewers have suggested that the in-ear design cuts out ambient sound and could, therefore, present a problem in day-to-day use. I have to say I haven’t noticed this. I still hear what’s going on around me and I have had no difficulty in hearing voices. Of course, as with any headphones, it is a courtesy to remove them when in conversation. The good thing is that the act of removing the pods pauses the stream and it continues again when you replace them. No fiddling with pause controls on the iPhone.

As a one-pod user, too, I know I can eke out a good 18 hours from of the two pods if used consecutively, so I have become used to leaving the charging case at home. I have worn the pods continuously for up to six hours and they are the most comfortable in-ear phones I have worn — and that includes a very expensive pair of wired phones with custom-made ear-canal inserts (following a professional wax impression of the inside of the canal). They were a severe disappointment, but the PowerBeats Pro are just right out of the box. There are three sizes of ear insert supplied, but I am perfectly happy with the medium units fitted as standard.

If you are an Apple device user and want the best ear pods with greater physical security than the AirPods, you really cannot go wrong. The PowerBeats Pro retain for £219.95 and, for me, are worth every penny. Four colours will be available eventually but, at the moment, there’s no choice. Like the Ford Model T, the PowerBeats Pro come in black only.

5 COMMENTS

  1. That’s looks like a decent design and much better than the AirPods. I used to have a pair of over ear beats headphone for running – best sound on a running set I ever had, but the cable was poor and two sets later I gave up on them. I switched to Bose inner ear ones that I use now, which have excellent sound quality, but the beats were marginally better.

    I use beats headphone for when I am working on my Mac, the full over head ones. And they have amazing sound quality for music, films on plex etc etc. In fact I wouldn’t change my big headphone brand now.

    I am glad you raise the issue of AirPods falling out, as I couldn’t run in a pair for the fear of losing them on a run.

    One of the reasons I will stick with the wired Bose phones for now is that I use an iPod shuffle for running as the iPhone 7 Plus is too big, and the battery life on the watch would be impaired by using wireless earphones, playing music and running your running data through it. So I’ll stick to what I now works for now.

  2. My wife has AirPods and I can’t even look over my shoulder without one or both falling out. The Bose equivalent are fine, stay put and have much better sound quality, though the bluetooth connection is a but less robust.

    I won’t bother with these new Beats as I’m more than satisfied with the Bose for running, and my wired, over the ear Bang & Olufsen headphones for actual music or movies.

  3. As Ulysses S. Grant replied when asked how many songs do you know?Two, one is Yankee Doodle Dandy, and the other isn’t!

  4. I have two types of Bose Wireless/Noise Cancelling Headphones, the ‘on ear’ Quiet Comfort 35 and the ‘in ear’ Quiet Control 30. The latter are actually better in my opinion and stay in your ear and the collar helps with that. The Bose apps were flaky at first (just like most apps for any type of new device) but have improved over time. The app will allow me to dial in just the amount of noise cancelling I need to be able to hear my wife in case she is looking for me. I am a jazz fan and I am very familiar with how my favourite artists sound (I can recognise most of them after just one or two notes) and it is on that score that the Quiet Control shades the Quiet Comfort. Accuracy of tone is important to me. I still think that 78s played on a proper deck provide the best sound of all, though.

    I have had a friend with a large collection of 78s who used to say at one time that “if God had intended me to listen to stereo, he would have given me ears 10 feet apart”. We have converted him since then.

    William

    • Ah the nostalgic tone of vinyl sound being passed through the needle and a real amp. Nothing beats it, sadly few keep those systems any more. The modern world does have some crimes hidden in it, and this is one of them, although I do note that vinyl is making a come back.

      And yes ya young’uns understand real sound 😂

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