Powerbeats 4: Everything you need to know

Powerbeats 4
Powerbeats 4 (Image credit: Beats Electronics LLC)

You may have heard some musings recently about a new pair of Powerbeats headphones (not the Pros). They slipped onto Walmart store shelves, presumably accidentally, a few days ago, and since the cat is out of the bag, they've been officially announced by Beats Electronics (AKA: Beats by Dr. Dre). How do they differ from their predecessor? How much do they cost? And most importantly, what color do they come in? All of your questions are answered right here.

What's the difference between Powerbeats 4 and Powerbeats 3?

Though much of the same features of the previous model are intact with the new model, there are some definite upgrades, a few new features, and even a redesign for the Powerbeats 4. Let's start with the upgrades.

The 4th-generation model has a new H1 processor chip, which makes switching between devices and answering calls significantly faster. The Bluetooth connection is more stable, and gaming latency is much improved.

Instead of a micro USB port, the Powerbeats 4 are charged up with a Lightning port. It's definitely an upgrade from the Powerbeats 3, but unfortunately, not USB-C compatible.

The battery life is improved from approximately 12 hours of playback to about 15 hours and the 4th-generation model supports "fast fuel" charging, which will charge up about an hour's worth of playback use in just five minutes.

The ear hook and base of the Powerbeats 4 is a complete redesign from the Powerbeats 3, which should have a positive effect on its ability to stay solidly in your ears. The buttons protrude more than on their predecessor for easier find-ability while mid-jog and there is a playback control button on the front for pausing, playing, and answering calls.

How much do they cost?

Powerbeats 4

Powerbeats 4 (Image credit: Beats)

The fourth-generation Powerbeats are actually cheaper than their predecessor. Brand new, you can get them for $150 (Powerbeats 3 cost $200

What colors do they come in?

You can get them in red, black, and white, and I'm not talking about mostly black with some red. The red option is all red.

Are they sweat-proof? Waterproof?

Powerbeats 4 are sweat and water-resistant with an IXP4 rating. This means you can sweat a lot in them and splash some water at them, but you can't take them into the shower or go swimming with them on.

How about battery life?

The fourth-generation Powerbeats are estimated to get up to 15 hours of audio playback. Powerbeats Pro only offer 9 hours and AirPods Pro only offer up to 6 hours.

How fast do they charge up?

Powerbeats 4

Powerbeats 4 (Image credit: Beats Electronics LLC)

Thanks to "Fast Fuel," which is also available with the Powerbeats Pro, you can get a full hour's worth of charge in about 5 minutes. It works perfectly with the Powerbeats Pro, so I'm going to assume the same for the Powerbeats 4.

Do they come with a charging case?

They do not. The headphones come with a soft cloth carrying bag and a Lightning cable, but no hard shell charging case. For this, you'll have to find a third-party offering.

Do they have customizable ear tips?

Yes. As did their predecessor, the Powerbeats 4 come with four different ear times: small, medium, large, and double-flange (which are more narrow than small, even though they're technically larger).

Do they work with glasses?

Because of the ear hook design, you're going to have to find a comfortable position for your glasses and Powerbeats 4. From my personal experience with Powerbeats Pro (which have a very similar ear hook design as the Powerbeats 4), they feel a little awkward, but glasses-wearer Rene Ritchie doesn't find them the least bit uncomfortable.

Are they noise-canceling or ANC?

Powerbeats 4

Powerbeats 4 (Image credit: Beats Electronics LLC)

No. Powerbeats 4 do not have any internal microphones or drivers that digitally cut out noise. They are passive noise-canceling, which means that the design of the headphones themselves (in-ear and with a sealed ear tip), they will muffle some sound, but not all of it.

Do they work with phones other than iPhone?

Yes. Thanks to standard Bluetooth connectivity, you can use Powerbeats 4 with any device that also supports Bluetooth, including Android phones, tablets, and even TV sets.

How do they sound?

To be determined. However, the Beats marketing information notes that it has the same 12mm driver, same dual beamforming microphones, and the same total harmonic distortion and dynamic range as the Powerbeats Pro, which to this day, is my personal favorite pair of in-ear headphones in terms of sound quality. So I have high hopes.

Do they use USB-C?

No. Powerbeats 4 charge up using a Lightning to USB-A cable. Sorry USB-C fans, we're not quite there yet (I thought we were, too).

Can you make and receive calls with them?

Yes. Similar to Powerbeats Pro and AirPods Pro, these headphones have dual beamforming microphones and a speech-detection accelerometer to focus on your voice and filter out external calls.

Where can I buy them?

You can definitely get them at Walmart, but they are also available from Apple and the Beats website.

Lory Gil

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).