A few months ago, my old Beats Powerbeats3 headphones finally met their end after over 3 years of almost daily use. I accidentally ripped off the little stem that holds one of the earpieces in place, meaning there was no chance to repair them. Dangling from a wire, the earbud looked like a fallen comrade after years of excellent service to playing Sia while I made a fool of myself trying to go for runs or mountain biking.
On the bright side, that meant getting some new earbuds for working out. Being something of a tech nerd, this was something to look forward to (see obsess over) to find an adequate replacement.
I went with the super-fancy and highly-touted beats Powerbeats Pro. The wireless earbuds seemed perfect for my blend of riding, running, commuting, and working in public places.
Here’s how they’ve been working out over the last 3+ months.
PowerBeats Pro for Exercise
This is a cycling blog, so I’ll get right to the bit that you’re all likely most interested in. These are the best fitness earbuds I’ve ever worn. Period. For riding, I just wear the right earbud and it’s perfect; I can hear cars and trail users exceptionally well, while still being able to enjoy my tunes.
I haven’t had a single dropped Bluetooth connection, and since it’s an Apple company, they pair with my iPhone 12 Pro Max 95% of the time without me having to manually pair them in the Bluetooth section of my phone. The Apple maxim of “It just works” is cliche, but damned if it ain’t true.
Pairing with my Apple Watch has been slightly more finicky, but my Series 3 is getting quite old now. Ah, nothing like planned obsolescence, eh? But they still pair quickly the vast majority of the time and streaming from watch or phone (or MacBook Air) results in great audio quality with zero lag.
On my runs, the PowerBeats Pro sound incredible, but still let just enough sound in from the outside world to let you know when cars or other runners are around. The fit is secure, comfortable, and doesn’t create any pressure points on my ears. The one flaw? With the wrap-around-the-ear design, wearing sunglasses can feel a little cumbersome.
I’m far from an audiophile, but in my opinion, these sound pretty darn great. Being from Beats, the bass is heavier than most other earbuds, but that’s the case with all Beats. Sounds are rich, with excellent mids to highs. Call quality is better than expected, considering these are more exercise-oriented earbuds. But I’ve used them on Zoom, Google Meet, and for phone calls on plenty of occasions over the last few months with zero complaints or mic issues.
An Overall Look
To me, the more secure fit makes these earbuds seriously great options for anyone looking for a do-it-all earbud. Exercise? Perfection. For work? These bad boys get nine hours of use from just one charge – that’s insanely impressive. These earbuds are so good that they’ve come very close to replacing my AirPods Pro for working at coffee shops or even just wearing them around the house. But there’s one massive flaw that’s stopping them from being perfect.
There’s no active noise cancellation with these. And that’s a big deal. Sure, these are fitness-oriented earbuds. They’re water-resistant and designed to be secure in your ear – office life was not a priority in designing these. And that’s why they’ll only ever be the best workout earbuds I’ve owned. The ANC on the Airpods Pro is just so good that they’ll stay in my pocket for work in the office or anywhere with people around.
Other Options to Consider
The new Sony WF-1000XM4s are getting some insanely positive reviews, but at $280, I’m not sure I’d want to wear these on a ride or a run and risk losing an earbud. They have ANC and boast a battery life of 8-12 hours depending on whether ANC is active. I’m going to go out on a limb and say if you have an iPhone, just get Airpods Pro. They’re $30 less and pair seamlessly to all your Apple devices.
The best alternative for someone considering Beats Powerbeats Pro might just be a brand new release from Beats themselves. The new Beats Studio Buds offer ANC (albeit not the best ANC in the industry) great sound quality, water-resistant, and get 5 hours of battery life, which is comparable to AirPods Pro. And at $150, they’re at a price point where they make really good sense for people who are going to use them for exercising and general use.
What do you think? Lining up some Powerbeats Pro for your next workout-oriented tune-deliverers? Let me know your thoughts.
Disclaimer: Beats didn’t pay me to write a review nor did they have any editorial input. Obviously. I’m a nobody. These are just the honest thoughts of a tech nerd with way too much time on his hands.