Beats was bought by Apple back in 2014 – and while the Dr Dre-founded brand has been allowed to retain its identity, you only need to take a look at the Powerbeats Pro to see who’s really sat on the throne behind the scenes.
Yes, it’s the famed red ‘b’ logo that you’ll see on the side of these wireless earbuds, but traces of Apple’s ownership are still to be found everywhere, from the Lightning cable to the super-smooth iOS compatibility. But more interesting to see is how these square against another set of earbuds, namely the Apple AirPods Pro. These are slightly more expensive, but they offer something that the Powerbeats Pro don’t, which is noise-cancelling tech. By contrast, the Powerbeats Pro boast an earhook design that will keep them firmly in place – something that makes these a great workout companion.
We were delighted to find that the Powerbeats Pro are a supremely well-designed set of earbuds that do both the Beats and Apple names proud – read on for our full, in-depth review.
Powerbeats Pro review: summary
The Powerbeats Pro will offer you a secure fit, excellent sound quality and a highly convenient, hassle-free experience. Yes, you might not get the ANC offered by rival sets of earbuds at a similar price, but the fact that the Powerbeats Pro’s earhook design is both secure and comfortable is a major sell.
- What are the Powerbeats Pro?
- How much is Powerbeats Pro?
- Powerbeats Pro set-up
- Our verdict
- Where to buy
The Powerbeats Pro are the cordless update on the original corded Powerbeats. Where those in-ear earbuds were connected by a cable, these are totally wireless. And where their predecessors plugged directly into a wall adaptor or device to charge, the Powerbeats Pro receive their battery top-up via a case – like, yes, the Apple Airpods.
What do the Powerbeats Pro do?
The Powerbeats Pro are all about audio playback, naturally, but here’s a breakdown of what these earbuds deliver:
- A maximum of 24 hours of playback: nine from the earbuds and another 15 from the charging case.
- The Powerbeats Pro are sweat- and water-resistant – in other words, they won’t give up on you no matter how hard you go in the gym.
- Both earbuds can operate independently – you can listen to just the one in your ear if needs be.
- You can also activate Siri via your Apple device’s wake word.
It’s worth taking note at this point that the Powerbeats Pro do not have the noise-cancelling technology that you might expect in a pair of earbuds at this price.
The Powerbeats Pro have an RRP of £219.95 listed on the Beats store – but we’ve seen certain versions offered for considerably less, so if you’re not dead-set on a specific colour, it’s worth checking all their different prices. You’ll find the best Powerbeats Pro deals listed below.
Are the Powerbeats Pro good value for money?
Yes. Given their superb design, secure and comfortable fit and levels of sound quality, the Powerbeats Pro proved to be worth every penny – and that’s against the full RRP. That you’ll likely find them on sale for as much as 30% less than that price is simply a bonus.
Let’s get to the most important thing: how do the Powerbeats Pro fit in your ears? After a little wiggling, we slipped them into place – and we found they were both comfortable and undeniably secure. But if you do find that the fit is a little too constrictive, then you’ve got another three sizes of eargel included in the pack to try out.
Earhooks aren’t to everybody’s taste, but we like the rounded, organic look of the Powerbeats Pro. They come in four muted, tasteful colours: Black, Navy, Moss and Ivory. Note the absence of any white version: we’re guessing that’s to ensure they don’t just look like the sporty version of the AirPods.
In terms of the UI, both earbuds sport the same button and volume rocker. After a couple of days of frustrated sensor-tapping with another set of earbuds (you can read our in-depth Skullcandy Indy ANC review for more), we were frankly relieved to find a physical button and the extra volume controls. The controls are every bit as simple as they sound.
We were hugely impressed by the sound quality that the Powerbeats Pro delivered. While sat working, volume set to two-thirds was plenty; even in a busy train station concourse, a notch below max was more than enough.
Beats, of course, is a company known for pioneering heavy-bass sound products, which were aimed, in the early days at least, at a primarily hip-hop-listening audience who wanted that heavy thump. Luckily, the frequency curve you’ll find in the Powerbeats Pro is a lot more subtle than its products of yesteryear, and ‘Skinny Love’ by Bon Iver sounded just as good as the deep bass of ‘A Milli by Lil Wayne. Lows, mids and highs all receive the same excellent treatment.
Oh, and if you’re judging us on our choice of music and concerned others might do the same to you, you’ll be pleased to hear that people sat near us while we reviewed reported very little noise leaking even at max volume, which is likely due to that highly secure earhook fit.
One thing that we would like to see is a dedicated Beats app that might offer some more control over the sound delivered by the Powerbeats Pro – a few preset modes or some EQ customisation. Admittedly, there’s an argument to be made that the sound is so fabulous it doesn’t need any tinkering – but in a market where consumers increasingly want to stamp their own individuality on their products, this feels like an oversight, though.
But the devil remains in the details, and it’s here where the Powerbeats Pro shine. A perfect example is the fact that not only do these earbuds automatically stop playing when you take them out of your ears – but if you remove one, you can hit the button on the remaining one, and it will play independently. Convenience goes a hell of a long way with tech products earbuds.
That convenience is boosted for Apple users due to the brand including its H1 chip in the Powerbeats Pro. If you pair these earbuds with an Apple product, they’ll automatically pair and connect with another device that uses the same Apple ID. So if you’ve connected the Powerbeats Pro to your iPhone, see what happens when you open your iPad or Macbook – you should be able to jump between listening from one to another very easily indeed.
Lastly, you can also call upon the services of Siri by uttering ‘Hey Siri’ or whatever wake word you’ve got in place on your Apple device.
What is the Powerbeats Pro battery like?
The Powerbeats Pro will offer you a maximum of 24 hours of playback – the earbuds themselves will last for 9 hours, with another 15 hours of charge offered by the case. That’s an assured level of battery life, but better still is the Fast Fuel feature, which gives you a turbo boost of 90 minutes of playback from a mere five minutes in the case: perfect if you’re about to leave the house and forgot to plug the case in overnight.
Interestingly, it’s a Lightning cable that’s included versus the USB-C connection that you’ll see with most earbuds. There won’t be any compatibility issues – but Apple, it seems, does rather like to mark its territory.
The Powerbeats Pro come in a Russian doll-like series of black packaging. Inside the outer packaging, you’ll find an inner case, and inside that, there’s another case. Open that, and you’ll find the clamshell-style charging case nestled in a moulded box, with the Powerbeats Pro inside, pre-charged and ready to go. Does this all sound like the pomp and circumstance that you might normally associate with an Apple product? That’s certainly what we thought.
You’ll find the fold-instruction beneath the moulded case, along with the Lightning charge cable. But honestly, we’d be surprised if you ever need to open them. Setup was swift and simple: we had these playing music in our ears within the space of two minutes. Thanks to the inclusion of Apple’s H1 chip, these are totally set up to pair with iOS – so in the case of our iPhone, we didn’t even need to search for the Powerbeats Pro via the Bluetooth function. They simply appeared as a prompt on our screen.
The case itself is pretty bulky as earbud cases go, measuring 7.7cm in both height and width. It’s not one you can slip into a pocket, but that seems unavoidable since they house devices that, thanks to the earhook design, are larger than most of their rivals at 5.6cm in length. You might be forgiven for thinking there’s a make-up mirror inside, but we love the semi-matte black finish.
Many people are probably deciding between these and the Airpods Pro. For those who are nervous about losing their earbuds, these are the far easier sell: the Powerbeats Pro will deliver an assuredly high-quality level of playback, and thanks to the earhook design, they will never abandon you on your morning run or at the gym.
The reason you might opt for the Airpods Pro instead is due to the noise-cancelling tech being offered there. It does feel a little odd to see a pair of earbuds without ANC that have an RRP upward of £200 – but in all other regards, the Powerbeats Pro are a formidable alternative to Apple’s flagship earbuds.
- Set-up: 5/5
- Design: 4/5
- Features (average): 4/5
- Sound quality: 4/5
- Value for money: 4/5
Overall star rating: 4/5
You’ll find the Powerbeats Pro available from the following online stores and retailers:
Are you looking to upgrade your home audio? Don’t miss our best smart speaker selection.