Beats PowerBeats Pro Totally Wireless Earphones review: A debut worth the wait
We’re coming up on the three year anniversary of Apple’s “courageous” move to cull what used to be something you could assume your phone would have: a headphone jack.
And in the years since the tech titan threw their lot in with fare like AirPods, we’ve since seen no shortage of contenders for the true wireless crown. One thing we haven’t seen is what Beats can bring to that same true-wireless form-factor. We’ve seen Sony, LG, Jaybird, Jabra and others take on the category but Apple’s own audio subsidiary has thus far remained out of the mix. Until now.
The new Beats Powerbeats Pro true wireless earbuds see the Apple-owned audio brand make their first formal entry into the true wireless space and, for our money, the wait seems to have been worth it.
The PowerBeats Pro aren’t perfect but they’re coming for the crown anyway.
Earphone type: In-ear, true wireless
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Built-in Microphone: Yes, Beam-Forming
Noise cancelling: Passive
Battery Life: 9 Hours per charge, 24 hours total with charger case
Colors: Black, White, Blue, Green
What do we like about the Beats Powerbeats Pro?
An extension of the design found in the previous Powerbeats, the new Powerbeats Pro use a seamless unibody design that’s most visually-defined by the curved ear-hooks that branch outwards from them.
As always - your personal taste by vary. Still, by most metrics, the Powerbeats Pro are a nice-looking set of in-ear headphones. And in addition to looking good, they feel great to wear. The Powerbeats Pro come across as as much a product of ergonomics as much they are aesthetics.
And it doesn’t hurt that they give you plenty of options to play with.
The new Beats Powerbeats Pro utilise a dynamic tethering setup that designates the earbuds with the best connection to your phone as the primary one. This master-slave configuration itself is pretty common in true wireless earbuds but the dynamic implementation here that the Powerbeats Pro can just as easily be used together as separately. Each earbud features a soft-touch button that’s used to pause and play and a set of volume toggles, so there’s no loss in functionality or usability either way.
Even the action of taking these true wireless earbuds out their case and twisting them onto your ears is so clean and simple it feels like a natural improvement on what’s come before.
The earphones themselves have a decent fit that allows for a smidge of passive noise-cancellation but no active ANC as such. That being said, if you strongly prefer a smaller or less intrusive form-factor, they might be a little bulky.
But don’t get me wrong, the PowerBeats Pro sound good.
I wouldn’t say you get an overly bass-emphasized sound here but the bass did sound quite good. Unsurprisingly, I found that hip-hop tracks like Logic’s “Keanu Reeves” and Dessa’s “Grade School Games” sounded the best - but I wouldn’t say that non-hip-hop tracks sounded bad when heard through the Powerbeats Pro either.
Then there’s the battery life. On their own, the PowerBeats Pro earbuds boast an impressive nine hours of playback (or six hours of talk time) and a grand total of 24-hours of playback when the carry-case is factored in. That’s basically double everything else on the market (aside from the AirPods).
What didn’t we like about the Beats Powerbeat Pro?
Of course, while I’m already coming around on the idea that the Powerbeats Pro might be one of the best sets of true wireless earbuds you can buy in 2019, that’s not to say that they don’t have their share of weaknesses.
The case is an obvious one. It’s approximately twice the size of other true wireless charger-cases. That bulkiness is a definite drawback. Beats do say that it’s intended to be used as more of a portable desk-charger but a carry-case is what it is, and in that context it’s less than ideal. Is it a caveat that’s balanced out by the impressive battery life the Powerbeats Pro offer? I think so - but your own individual mileage with it may vary.
The other down-side here is that, being an Apple-associated product, the Powerbeats Pro charger case relies on a lightning cable rather than USB Type-C. If you already own a fair few Apple products, this isn’t too much of a hassle but if you’re someone who doesn’t - like me - it’s another thing to worry about and a definite drawback.
The Bottom Line
The Beats Powerbeats Pro earbuds aren’t the cheapest true wireless option out there, nor are they the most expensive. But, of all the true wireless earbuds I’ve reviewed, few justify the $349 price-tag as well as these do.
They sound great. They feel great. The battery life is just icing on the cake. The PowerBeats Pro might just be the best new true wireless earbuds to hit the market in 2019. They’re an astoundingly good first effort from Beats and they make for a compelling alternative to almost everything else out there.
Regardless of whether you care the most about battery life, audio fidelity or fitness-friendliness, these are probably going to be a set of earphones you'll be happy with.
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