Mike Andronico/CNN

Ever since I ditched my AirPods Pro for the Jabra Elite Active 75t earlier this year, I’ve been yearning for a pair of Apple buds that borrow the superior colors and controls that have made my Jabras a daily staple. The new AirPods 3, while great in their own way, are not that. But a few days after being somewhat underwhelmed by Apple’s latest buds, the $199 Beats Fit Pro arrived at my doorstep.

The latest Beats earbuds are aimed at folks who want a more compact version of the Powerbeats Pro for their daily workouts while also borrowing key AirPods Pro features like active noise cancellation (ANC) and spatial audio. But even as someone who isn’t a fitness freak, the Beats Fit Pro are largely the AirPods I’ve been waiting for Apple to make.

An excellent AirPods Pro alternative

The Beats Fit Pro blend all of the AirPods Pro's best features with a stylish, secure and workout-friendly design.

The who, what and how

Who it’s for: The $199 Beats Fit Pro are for someone who wants a pair of high-quality, workout-friendly earbuds that aren’t as bulky as the Powerbeats Pro. They also make a great and more affordable AirPods Pro alternative, offering many of the Pro’s key features within a more gym-friendly and colorful design.

What you need to know: The Beats Fit Pro combine the best of the latest Beats and Apple earbuds, packing features like ANC and a Transparency mode for amplifying your surroundings within a unique wingtip design built to stay in your ear during intense workouts.

How it compares: Beats’ latest earbuds are pretty comparable to the $249 AirPods Pro when it comes to features and sound quality. They also have a much cheaper retail price (at the expense of wireless charging), though the AirPods Pro are frequently discounted. The Fit Pro are more compact, versatile and affordable than the $249 Powerbeats Pro, which are still worth taking a look at for folks who want the added security of an ear hook design.

A design that’s the best of both worlds

Mike Andronico/CNN

The Beats Fit Pro have three major features I’ve been wishing the AirPods would adopt: physical controls, USB-C charging and, most importantly, some really cool color options. They also just feel fantastic.

These stylish buds look similar to the Beats Studio Buds released earlier this year but with an added wingtip designed to provide some extra support while you’re vigorously working out. I’ve never been a fan of the massive ear hooks on the larger Powerbeats Pro, and I’m really pleased with just how compact the Fit Pro are by comparison.

It feels redundant to call a premium pair of wireless earbuds comfortable at this point — because most of them are great — but the Fit Pro really are a joy to wear. I don’t typically use wingtip earbuds, but I almost never felt the extra padding, thanks to a soft, lightweight and flexible rubber design.

As with the AirPods Pro, you get three sets of ear tips and can do a quick fit test on your phone to find the right ones for you. Once I settled on the larger set, the Beats Fit Pro felt snug and secure throughout days of working, walking and commuting without ever feeling tight. These IPX4-rated buds endured a few strolls in the rain without issues, and several of my more fitness-minded colleagues reported that they stayed firm and comfortable during workouts.

Mike Andronico/CNN

I’ve been waiting for AirPods that come in actual colors (you don’t count, AirPods Max), but now that I have a pair of Beats Fit Pro in gorgeous Stone Purple (which is really pink), I might not have to anymore. The Fit Pro certainly aren’t the most subtle buds I’ve worn, but they’re still sleek enough that I feel good about wearing them on the train. Plus, there aren’t any pesky stems that hang out of your ear like on the AirPods. There aren’t quite as many color options as there are for the Powerbeats Pro — I’d love a pair of Fit Pro in Glacier Blue — but the buds’ black, Sage Gray and white variations are all pretty slick and subdued.

I’ve never had much of an issue with tapping or pinching the AirPods and AirPods Pro to control my music playback, but ever since using Jabra’s earbuds, I much prefer the satisfying accuracy of a physical click. Fortunately, the Beats Fit Pro offer just that, with snappy control buttons on either bud that made it easy to pause and skip tracks or switch between various sound modes. I just wish the controls were more robust and customizable — while Jabra’s buds let you control volume, playback and sound modes all at once, the Fit Pro essentially make you choose between whether you want to toggle volume or change modes with a long press of a button.

I was delighted to find that the Beats Fit Pro’s case charges via USB-C rather than Apple’s proprietary Lightning cable, since the former lets me juice them up with the litany of USB-C cables I already have handy at any given moment. You will have to live without wireless charging (which is available on the latest AirPods Pro and AirPods cases), but that’s not a feature I’ve ever gotten much use out of. My only real gripe is that the case is a little bulky — it’s not nearly as gargantuan as the one that houses the PowerBeats Pro, but it also takes up more pocket space than the AirPods Pro or Jabra Elite 7 Active.

Great sound with AirPods Pro-level features

Mike Andronico/CNN

The Beats Fit Pro are pretty similar to the AirPods Pro in the audio department, which is to say they sound great. These earbuds have been my main music headphones for nearly a week now, and thanks to their ability to pump out clean audio with crisp guitars and vocals (and no shortage of bass), I don’t plan on dropping them anytime soon.

Beats’ latest buds have what Apple is calling a “new acoustic architecture,” which might explain why my favorite songs sounded a lot more spacious than what I was used to. For example, on a track like “Cat’s Cradle” by Tigers Jaw — which I’ve listened to dozens of times — I could suddenly hear the specific left-right placement of vocal harmonies much better than on the Jabra Elite 7 Pro I’ve been using daily.

This impressive audio separation goes even further when you’re listening to music or watching movies that support Spatial Audio with head tracking, which is the same 360-degree audio tech found on most AirPods models. When I warped back to high school and rocked out to Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” on Apple Music, each instrument came from a consistent direction even as I moved my head around. It’s a cool effect that kind of makes you feel like you’re at a live show, though I still prefer to listen to most songs in good ol’ stereo.

The Beats Fit Pro have the same ANC and Transparency modes as the AirPods Pro, and they work similarly well here. The buds’ active noise cancellation did a good job suppressing sounds like the rattle of a subway and the whirring of nearby cars, and Transparency mode effectively amplified those noises when I wanted to stay aware of my surroundings while walking my dog. You still can’t adjust the levels of ANC and Transparency like you can on Jabra’s earbuds, but each mode worked well enough for me in everyday use.

The new Beats also borrow the AirPods’ Adaptive EQ feature, which equalizes your music in real time to provide the best mix possible when ANC and Transparency are turned off. It makes a subtle difference in my experience, but I did find songs to sound a bit louder and brighter when I had Adaptive EQ on.

All of the perks of Apple earbuds — and then some

Mike Andronico/CNN

Even if you take away the fancy sound modes, one of the main reasons I love the Beats Fit Pro is that they work just like any other pair of Apple earbuds. Thanks to the Apple H1 chip packed inside, the Fit Pro paired to my iPhone the second I opened them up, and would automatically pause my music any time I took even a single bud out. This functionality is nothing new, but it’s the biggest thing I’ve missed since switching to Jabra buds — which occasionally give me funky pairing issues and aren’t always smart enough to stop playback when I take them out of my ears.

You’ll also get all of the other now standard AirPods features, including hands-free Siri control, the ability to have your notifications read aloud and Find My support for tracking down the buds in case you lose them. But unlike the AirPods, the Beats Fit Pro can still do a whole lot even if you’re using an Android phone.

The new Beats buds paired impressively fast to my Google Pixel 5a, and the Beats app for Android lets you do things like change listening modes, customize the controls and perform the Ear Tip Fit Test to find the right fit. Certain perks such as Spatial Audio, Find My tracking and Automatic Switching between multiple devices are exclusive to iOS, but you won’t be missing out on too much if you’re not using an iPhone.

Awesome all-day battery life and good call quality

Mike Andronico/CNN

On top of looking and sounding great, the Beats Fit Pro are some of the longest-lasting Apple earbuds I’ve tested. I went nearly three days without even having to charge the case during on-and-off use, and was able to use the buds for a continuous seven hours straight — most of which was spent with ANC on — before finally draining the battery.

That’s enough to get through a long flight and most of a workday, and largely matches up with Apple’s claims of six hours with ANC/Transparency on, seven hours with ANC off and up to 30 hours total with the case. It also slightly exceeds the six hours and 10 minutes we got from the AirPods 3, and beats out the five-ish hours we usually get out of the AirPods Pro.

I spent a good chunk of time using the Beats Fit Pro on long personal and work calls, and never got any complaints about my audio quality. The recordings I captured on Beats’ buds were pretty solid with just a hint of audible fuzziness, and one colleague noted that I sounded very clear while we caught up over the phone.

Bottom line

Mike Andronico/CNN

As someone who’s hopped between the AirPods Pro and various Jabra offerings over the past year, the $199 Beats Fit Pro are a nearly perfect middle ground between the two for me. They have everything I love about Apple earbuds — including seamless iPhone connectivity, lots of useful features and great sound — while sporting the colorful design and physical controls that made me jump ship to Jabra in the first place. I’m not sure if the Beats Fit Pro are my new permanent go-tos (I like the controls and case on my Jabra Elite 7 Pro just a bit more), but I also don’t see myself putting them down anytime soon. And I’m not even the target user for these buds.

If you spend a lot of time on the track or at the gym and want something less bulky than the Powerbeats Pro, the Beats Fit Pro are an obvious (and cheaper) choice. They also get you pretty much all of the AirPods Pro’s features for $50 less while offering better functionality on Android, so unless you find the AirPods Pro on sale, the Fit Pro are an excellent and much more versatile alternative. The $149 Beats Studio Buds and $179 AirPods 3 are good options if you want to pay a little less, but for everyone else, the Beats Fit Pro are some of the best Apple earbuds you can buy right now — even if you’re not breaking a sweat every day.