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Lifewire / Jeffrey Chadwick Daniel
Top-tier sound quality
Outstanding physical controls
All-day battery life
No wireless charging
If you use your earbuds regularly, you’ll find a lot to like with the Powerbeats Pro. They’re durable, comfortable, and deliver sound quality that is par excellence.
In the world of wireless earbuds, the Powerbeats Pro are top tier. Everything from their design to the sound quality, connectivity, and battery life place these Bluetooth earbuds among the best you can buy.
We tested the Powerbeats Pro nearly continuously over the course of a week. We found them to be comfortable, convenient, and a pleasure to listen to. Every word, note, and beat came through flawlessly. The physical controls are outstanding and you’ll be hard-pressed to find the limit of their battery life. The one downside: You’ll pay a premium price to get them.
The look and feel of the Powerbeats Pro makes them seem like they’d be worn by a crewman on the Starship Enterprise. But that’s not a bad thing—they’re quite stylish and should compliment any outfit nicely, especially if you get black like we did. They’re also available in Ivory, Navy, and Moss.
The Powerbeats Pro are made from high-quality, durable, and flexible materials. They can take a lot of punishment from getting thrown in bags, sweated on, dropped in the dirt, carried around in pockets, etc, without getting a scratch.
They’re also very easy to clean if they get dirty. Just wipe them down with your thumb and they look great. The shape and flexibility of the ear adapters make it very easy to keep earwax from building up in there.
Their adjustable ear hooks allow you to custom-fit these earbuds to the shape of your head. This ensures that they never fall out, no matter what you’re doing. From working out to taking a walk around town or even hanging upside down, once the Powerbeats Pros are in your ear, they’re staying there until you take them out.
The downside is that these earbuds are difficult to put on. We had them for a week and it often took us more than ten seconds to get them in our ears. It’s a real trick to get the pivot and angle necessary to put them in as quickly as you would conventional earbuds. Expect to fumble around with them for a few days before you build that muscle memory.
We were impressed with their snappy performance and how consistently Siri responded when called.
One area where these wireless earbuds really shine is in their physical controls. The button in the center has multiple functions: press once to play/pause, twice to skip forward, and three times to skip backward. A long press on either of the buttons summons Siri if you’re paired with an Apple device. This might seem small, but that amount of control is something many wireless earbuds stumble with.
What really sets these Powerbeats apart from competitors like the AirPods are the physical controls for volume. Each bud has a small volume rocker that you can use to set each earbud’s volume individually, which is a feature you never really see on other wireless earbuds.
The Powerbeats Pro use the Apple H1 headphone chip, the same one used in Apple AirPods. This enables fast pairing, easy switching between devices, and quick playback, as well as compatibility with Hey Siri on Apple devices. When we tested them, we were impressed with their snappy performance and how consistently Siri responded when called. In fact, Siri seemed to understand our commands better than she does on our iPhone X.
The manufacturer claims nine hours of battery life for these headphones. We found this to be an understatement. During our testing, we had the Powerbeats Pro continuously playing music, audiobooks, podcasts, videos, and more. It took a lot longer than nine hours to drain the battery.
On the first day, the earbuds lasted more than 14 hours. On the second and third day, it lasted 13 and 11 hours respectively. It definitely seems like these earbuds should be able to get your through your full day without needing to recharge.
The charging case extends the life of these wireless earbuds even further. In the rare event that you do run out of battery, the case can fully recharge them in about 45 minutes and can give you a decent power supply in just a few minutes.
A fully-charged case extends the life of the Powerbeats at least another half-day, so long as you’re not a power user. When it does run out of power, it only takes about two hours to achieve a full charge through its included lightning cable.
The case itself is also very durable. Its hard plastic makes it resistant to short drops and protects the earbuds wonderfully. We dropped it a number of times during our testing—on sidewalk concrete, grass, carpet, and hardwood floors—and it still doesn’t have a scratch.
While the charging case is portable, it’s too large to carry around in your hand or in a pocket for an extended period of time. You’ll probably want to carry these in a purse or other bag if you want to take the charging case with you when you go out.
One thing to note about the case is that it's sometimes awkward to fit the earbuds in there. It’s just on account of the way they’re shaped, but it sometimes feels like a bit of a puzzle to get them in there the right way.
The Bluetooth range of the Powerbeats Pro is highly dependent on the device it’s paired with and where it’s located. When paired with our iPhone X, we could get more than a hundred feet away before we lost the connection. When it was paired with an iMac, we could get about 30 feet if we were outdoors or had a few walls between us.
If you’re not accustomed to earbuds that use in-ear adapters, the Powerbeats Pro may take some getting used to. However, compared to other in-ear wireless earphones like the Sennheiser HD1 Free, the Powerbeats Pro are ultimately comfortable. Throughout our testing, we never felt the need to take them out because of discomfort. Once you get used to how they feel in your ear, you may forget that they're there.
The Powerbeats Pro include three pairs of ear adapters. It’s easy to mix and match different sizes of adapters so you pick the ones that are best for you.
All of the great things about the Powerbeats Pro would just be meaningless if they didn’t deliver top-notch sound quality. But they do—fantastically. During our testing, we listened to dozens of hours of music, audiobooks, and podcasts. We also watched movies, music videos, and TV shows using YouTube, Netflix, and other popular streaming services. Throughout it all, the sound was pristine, clear, rich, and powerful.
The sound was pristine, clear, rich, and powerful.
Part of the reason the Powerbeats sound so good is that they employ noise isolation. The ear adapters are designed to put a physical barrier between your ear and the outside world, which is why it’s important to install the ones that make the best seal with your ear.
Delivering this type of quality in design and sound isn’t cheap. So, while the $249.95 (MSRP) price tag wasn’t a big surprise, it certainly makes you wonder if you actually need earbuds that are this high-quality. (We think that once you’ve experienced the Powerbeats Pro, it’s very easy to convince yourself that you do.)
They’re going to be the last pair of earbuds you’ll need for at least a few years to come.
If you use earbuds regularly and heavily, the Powerbeats Pro are worth the expense. If you work out a lot, consume a lot of media on the go or just want the best pair of wireless earbuds around, the Powerbeats Pro are a good buy. And they’re going to be the last pair of earbuds you’ll need for at least a few years to come.
Throughout our testing, we noted how much these wireless earbuds function like the Apple AirPods, including the automatic pairing with iOS devices, integration with the Apple ecosystem, and inclusion of Apple accessories such as the lightning power cable.
The differences are small but notable. For instance, the charging case for the Powerbeats Pro doesn’t feature wireless charging like the second-generation AirPods. That feels like something you should get in a product that costs $50 more and is designed by a subsidiary of Apple. Another difference is the depth of physical controls that the Powerbeats Pro deliver. The AirPods are voice-controls only, so the inclusion of physical buttons and volume control changes that user experience dramatically.
These earbuds live up to both the hype and the premium price tag.
We used the Beats Powerbeat Pro for a week and had a blast with them the whole time. From excellent sound quality to battery life and intuitive physical controls, these wireless earbuds have it all. For power users—those who more or less live with headphones in—their quality is worth the price.