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AirPods Pro vs Powerbeats Pro: Which should you buy?

PowerBeats Pro
PowerBeats Pro (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

The AirPods Pro are great for those who don't mind an in-ear design and want active noise cancellation with transparency for certain situations. But the Powerbeats Pro will definitely last longer and are great for workout enthusiasts.

3, 2, 1, let's jam

Woman wears AirPods Pro while waiting in train station

Woman using AirPods Pro (Image credit: Apple)

While the Powerbeats Pro are pretty good wireless earbuds, the over-ear hook design is not everyone's favorite style, and it only has noise isolation, not cancellation. The AirPods Pro, however, are a huge improvement over the first two generations with improved sound quality, Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), and Transparency Mode for those situations where you need to still be aware of your surroundings.

AirPods ProPowerbeats Pro
Cost$249$250
DesignIn-ear tipsOver-ear hook with on-ear tips
ColorsWhiteBlack, Ivory, Moss, Navy
Battery Life4.5/5 hours, 24 with charging case9 hours, over 24 with charging case
Wireless chargingYesNo
Wired chargingLightningLightning
Addition ear tipsYes, three sizesYes, four sizes
Quick charging in caseYesYes
Active Noise CancellationYesNo, only noise isolation
Transparency ModeYesNo
Adaptive EQYesNo
Customizable controlsYesNo
Audio SharingYesYes
H1 ChipYesYes
"Hey, Siri"YesYes
Water ResistantYes, IPX4 ratingYes, IPX4 rating

With the first two generations of AirPods, there are no silicone ear tips, so the tip just kind of hangs from your ear, and isn't a particularly comfortable fit. The new in-ear silicone tips give a better fit, and there are three sizes of ear tips, so you can use the one that works best for your ears. Because of the better flexibility in fit, the AirPods Pro are a definite improvement over the first and second-generation AirPods.

AirPods Pro breakdown

AirPods Pro - Exploded (Image credit: Apple)

Active Noise Cancellation on the AirPods Pro means that the hardware is always minimizing the amount of outside noise that you'll be able to hear while listening to your audio. While there is no button on the AirPods Pro to turn ANC on or off, you can tap the volume slider in Control Center to see the option of turning it on or off. This is ideal to use when you're on an airplane, train, or other modes of public transportation.

AirPods Pro also provides a Transparency Mode for the ANC, which activates the microphones to let you be aware of what's going on in your surroundings. Again, this can be toggled on or off in the Control Center volume slider. Apple's AirPods Pro also features adaptive EQ, so you only get the best quality audio in each ear.

iOS Control Center controls for AirPods Pro

iOS Control Center controls for AirPods Pro (Image credit: Apple)

The Powerbeats Pro controls cannot be customized through your Apple devices, though it will work with any Bluetooth enabled device. Controls on the AirPods Pro, like AirPods, can be customized through the Settings on your iPhone or iPad. You will need to be running iOS/iPadOS 13.2 or later, watchOS 6.1 or later, tvOS 13.2 or later, or macOS Catalina 10.15.1 or later to use AirPods Pro.

As far as battery life goes, the Powerbeats Pro has the AirPods Pro beat at 9 hours versus 5 hours, though using the Quick Charge cases for both will bump you to at least 24 hours total for each. The AirPods Pro has wireless Qi-charging support for its charging case, though you can also plug it in via a Lightning cable. The Powerbeats Pro's large and bulky case can only be plugged in via Lightning.

If you are heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem already, then it's a no-brainer: the AirPods Pro are the clear winner, despite only coming in white. But if you want more colors, don't mind over-ear hook designs, think noise isolation is good enough, and just want something mostly for workout sessions, then PowerBeats Pro is a good option.

Christine Chan
Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently the iMore lead on all things iPhone, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.

When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.