It’s been over a year since the Powerbeats Pro launch. At that time, in May 2019, we called them the Best True Wireless Earbuds on the market.
Comfort, connectivity, sound quality and battery life all shined. For $249.95, they were more feature-filled than 2nd Gen AirPods, and frankly, packed a design that worked for more people.
But that was before countless other true wireless earbuds hit the market, including the fan-favorite, and our current favorite: AirPods Pro, which also cost $249.95, and came with an updated design that included silicone tips and active noise cancellation.
In our recent testing piece, the Airpods Pro triumphed as the best true wireless earbuds, but the Powerbeats Pro weren’t far behind. We named them the best option for fitness- and workout-oriented users.
Beats will roll out four new colors this month, but no hardware changes are coming. You still get nine hours of battery life paired with a bulky charging case, the ear hook design still works wonders, and the sound quality remains punchy.
We’ve used Powerbeats Pro pretty heavily this year, but we took it up a notch over the past few weeks. We also received access to the four new colors ahead of their June 9 availability.
So let’s dive in and see where the pros and cons stand as over a year later.
Case is still large, but it’s not a dealbreaker
Let’s start with the obvious. The combination carrying and charging case is still quite large. It can’t easily fit into jeans (front or back pocket) and it takes up a decent amount of space when in a bag.
It’s a large square with rounded edges and doesn’t pack much technology. It charges with a Lightning cord (Beats includes one in the box), which is the only way to power it. Beats didn’t opt for a Qi-enabled wireless charging case.
If you’re in the Apple ecosystem, the lightning connector likely won’t bother you as it’s the same cord that charges your phone. It means carrying another cord if your proprietary device charges with USB Type-C —- aka most Android phones. That’s not the end of the world, especially when you realize the Powerbeats Pro deliver nine hours of battery life. The case extends that to 24 hours of use.
Our original pair of Powerbeats Pro battery life still holds well after a year. It’s expected that the batteries will lose some overall capacity. That’s just how lithium ions work, but depending on volume level, we can still end up somewhere between 8-9 hours.
The newer pairs we’ve tested in vibrant colors lasted the full nine hours, and both charging cases provided a bit more than 2.5 full charges.
Nine hours is quite good for true wireless earbuds. Galaxy Buds+ achieve the highest with 11 hours (still bonkers) and 22 hours with the case. AirPods Pro achieve five hours with ANC turned on, stretched to about six with it off and over a day with the case. Beats is squarely in the middle.
We found ourselves stretching that to nine hours over shorter listening periods. And since they hold the charge, you don’t always need to bring the carrying case with you.
In our case, we can stash the Powerbeats Pro in the chest pocket on a button-down shirt, a jacket pocket or even a pants pocket. They can hang from a necklace, thanks to the ear-hook design, which is a handy solution that doesn’t degrade the battery and doesn’t mean you have to lug around the carrying case.
Ear-hooks are smart and form-fitting
Powerbeats Pro, of course, utilizes an updated ear-hook design. Beats made this design popular and an industry-standard with the original Powerbeats.
With the true wireless offering, Beats notably shortened the length of the ear hooks, removed the cord connecting the left and right sides and revamped the bridge. That last piece connects the hook to the ear tip, which goes into the canal of the ear. It also houses the Apple H1 chip and batteries, among other hardware.
We originally wrote that the Powerbeats Pro could be a tight fit in your ear the first time. The size of the ear hook is smaller and shorter, so you need to wiggle it. We recommend putting the ear hook on first and moving it for the best form around your ear.
It’s rubber outside and a malleable material internally, so you can make it wider or shorter, depending on your ear size. Once that’s set, you can then push the earbud into your ear (canal and all). You get four tips in the box.
The process becomes easier and more natural after a few wearings, but it’s comfortable once you get the right form.
These don’t fall out either. Between the gel tip and the ear hook, you can run, cycle, jog, train and commute without a worry.
We pushed these to the limit with daily walks, core training, runs, yoga, jogs and indoor cycling. Powerbeats Pro didn’t fall out and stayed cool, calm and collected during workouts or even rain.
These are IPX4 rated against sweat and water, so they can take a solid amount of liquid. Sweat didn’t cause any rusting or detrimental effects to the outer casing either.
It should be noted that the new colors were just a new paint job, so the materials used and hardware are identical. Liquid dripped off pretty fast, which is likely thanks to the matte finish on the Powerbeats Pro. The ear hooks also push the ears out a bit from the head which gives heat more room to ventilate.
As we said in best true wireless earbuds, these are the best options for fitness.
Additionally, a year later, the physical controls still stick out to us.
Each “b” Beats logo gives you easy control for playback and access to a virtual assistant. When paired with any device, you can long-press to engage the assistant, including Alexa, Google Assistant or even Siri.
You also get the volume rocker on the top of the bridge, which is quite handy. It works when paired with a smartphone, laptop or tablet, but more importantly, it works with other fitness trackers. This way, if you’re on a run and leave the larger device behind, you can easily make adjustments.
Booming sound and stable connectivity
Sound quality is nearly identical to when we reviewed the Powerbeats Pro a year ago. These pack a vibrant mix that ups the levels across low, mid and high tones. It’s that extra punch or jive in your step for working out and fitness activities.
The common pain point with previous Beats would be overly aggressive bass performance. Here the Bass is toned back, especially in comparison to previous products, but it’s still strong and acts as a grounding for the track. So if you’re listening to a song with a drumline like “Domino” by Jessie J, it carries the song through. It acts as a timer (akin to a metronome), but with each hit, snap and strum, it boosts you. With vocals, you can clearly hear the octaves moving between mid and high. It’s enjoyable.
It’s not the most cluttered track as it consists of main vocals with echo, a core drum and some synthesizers in the background. You can clearly hear each instrument and the Powerbeats Pro don’t unnecessarily mix the track together. Lower-end earbuds typically have a pooling effect, which results in a not so clear experience.
With “Rose Tattoo” by the Dropkick Murphys, you get more instruments and a range of vocals. Vocals come through as raw as listening to it on a 5.1.4 system or hearing it live. Instruments are clear, specifically with the individual mandolin strums coming in wide as these range from mid to high.
No matter the track, you get a crisp and balanced experience. There’s no extra noise, reverb or artifacts that the Powerbeats Pro introduced onto the track. Additionally, while source matters, the same track from multiple streaming services delivered the same playback.
On the connectivity side, these feature magic tricks with Apple devices.
The H1 Chip still powers hands-free “Hey Siri” and the microphones work well with the voice assistants. Most requests are correct and dictation picks up accurately. With calls, we noticed that the microphones pick up wind (both on our original pair and the new colors). They’re pretty good for calls, but not as crisp and noise reducing as AirPods Pro.
You’ll get fast pairing with any iOS device. Just open the case next to your iPhone and Powerbeats Pro pops up asking you if you want to pair them. From there, they sync with your iCloud account, so you’ll see them on linked devices (macOS, iPadOS, watchOS and tvOS) in the Bluetooth list. It’s fast and stable.
These start casting a Bluetooth signal as soon as you lift the lid with Androids and other devices. It makes pairing fast and they’ll still auto pair.
Powerbeats Pro deliver a nearly identical experience a year later. That’s not a bad thing.
The sound is strong. Battery life is long and lives in the higher-end of the battery life spectrum for a true wireless earbud. Connectivity is strong. And you get good value for $249.95, but they sometimes go on sale. We’ve regularly seen them drop to $199.95.
We think these are the best earbuds for fitness and active oriented lifestyles. They also work for many if AirPods don’t fit in your ear, though we’d recommend trying AirPods Pro. For Powerbeats Pro, the new colors will spice up an excellent pair of true wireless earbuds.
And hopefully this time next year, Beats will throw in active noise cancellation (we know they know the tech since it’s on Solo Pro) and increase that battery life while adding wireless charging to the case. For now, Powerbeats Pro deliver a booming experience.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.