US$199.99 / Currently not available in Australia (Check Amazon)
Apple just started selling a new AirPods Pro model that is cheaper, sounds a
little better, fits a lot better, and even has physical
buttons and comes in several colors. They even cost less!
Only Apple did all this under its other headphone
brand, Beats, with the new Fit Pro. While these don't have
everything the AirPod Pro do (wireless charging is
absent), they are better in most ways and for most people.
Simply put, if you think you might want to buy AirPods Pro, you
should buy these instead. In fact, those considering the 3rd-gen AirPods might even want to spend a
little more for these.
Anything you can do…
Apple purchased Beats back in 2014, and within a few
years it was making Beats headphones that use its own W1 and later
H1 headphone chips, allowing them to work just like AirPods.
The Beats Fit Pro are the latest in that line. They mimic the
features of the AirPods Pro–instant pairing and quick switching to
other Apple products, hands-free Hey Siri, Find My integration,
active noise cancellation with an excellent Transparency mode, and
Spatial Audio with head tracking.
Beats Fit Pro are more
comfortable and stay in your ears better than AirPods Pro. And come
in several colors. IDG / Jason Cross
If you use an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, these essentially
are AirPods Pro, from a features perspective. If the
AirPods Pro do it, so do the Beats Fit Pro. They're IPX4 water and
sweat resistant like the AirPods Pro, so good enough for rain and
splashes but not meant to be submerged.
There's one notable exception, and that's wireless charging. The
AirPods Pro's charging case has it (along with MagSafe), but the
Beats Fit Pro do not. That's it; that's the only thing missing. And
it's not a deal-breaker in the slightest
…I can do better
It's all the ways the Fit Pro are better than the AirPods Pro
that make them interesting, though.
For starters, they simply fit a lot better. The shape better
conforms to one's ear, and like the AirPods Pro they come with
three sizes of rubber eartips to create a seal in your ear canal.
Instead of stems, the Fit Pro have integrated wingtips that go up
and under one of your ear's folds.
Wingtips are nothing new in the sports earbuds market, and it's
a bold move of Beats to make theirs one-size-fits-all and unable to
be removed. But it works, it really works. They fit very
well in the ears of several different people I asked to try them,
and they're more comfortable to wear for a long time than any
earbuds with wingtips I've ever tried.
non-removable wingtips really work, and are surprisingly
comfortable. IDG / Jason Cross
It's a huge step up from the earhooks of previous Beats
products, too. Those were effective, but harder to wear with
glasses and grew uncomfortable with extended use.
The Beats Fit Pro may be the most comfortable in-ear buds I've
ever used. They sit right, create a pretty good seal, and don't
feel like they're coming loose, even with lots of activity. They
also don't make my ears sore.
While AirPods only come in white, the Fit Pro come in white,
black, sage grey, and stone purple (a very lavender tone).
The AirPods Pro use a Lightning plug to charge, the Fit Pro use
USB-C. While I prefer that, one could see how someone with only an
iPhone would find value in the Lightning connector…we'll call it a
tie. The Fit Pro's charging case doesn't feel quite as solid as the
AirPods Pro's, and isn't as compact, but it's still a lot smaller
than the massive Powerbeats Pro case and easy to pocket.
Some will be thankful
for the USB-C charging port, others may prefer Lightning. IDG / Jason Cross
Speaking of charging, you'll have to do it less often with the
Beats earbuds. They last for over seven hours without noise
cancelling enabled, and six with it turned on. That's quite a bit
more than the four and a half hours Apple claims for AirPods Pro
with ANC enabled. The case holds about four more full charges, and
about five minutes of charging gives you around an hour of
listening time. A full charge took me about an hour and a half.
That's a lot of listening for very little
While AirPods Pro sound very good, they're not the best
premium wireless earbuds I've heard. The Beats Fit Pro sound a
little bit better–with plenty of oomph where its warranted and
slightly improved clarity. The one exception is with the voice
quality making calls or video conferencing. The Fit Pro use
multiple beamforming mics just like the AirPods Pro, and voice
quality is good (with impressive wind noise attenuation), but just
a bit worse than AirPods Pro.
The buds on the left
are better and cheaper than the buds on the right…and made
by the same company. IDG / Jason Cross
Noise-cancelling quality is roughly on par with that of the
AirPods Pro, which is to say that's it's good and supremely useful,
but not the best you can find in any wireless earbuds. Transparency
mode is open and natural sounding, as it is on AirPods Pro–Apple's
products lead the market with this feature.
Should you buy Beats Fit
If you're keeping score it's: AirPods Pro 1, Beats Fit Pro 5.
AirPods Pro have wireless charging, but Beats Fit Pro fit better,
sound better, last longer on a single charge, cost US$50 less, and
come in several colors. Oh, and the awkward pinch the stem controls
are replaced by real physical buttons that are easier to use…so
that's six in the win column for Beats.
The benefits of the AirPods Pro (wireless charging, a slightly
more compact and sturdy case, slightly better voice quality) don't
make up for the several ways the Beats Fit Pro are better, and are
definitely not enough to justify the price premium.
Most people who want AirPods Pro will probably like these more,
even if they weren't cheaper. In fact, with the 3rd-gen AirPods
priced at US$179, we think you should definitely splurge and pay US$20
more for these–you'll get much better fit, sound, active noise
cancelling, and you don't have to get them in white.