Mike Andronico/CNN

Apple recently dropped two new true wireless earbuds: the $199 Beats Fit Pro and the $175 AirPods 3. Both borrow from the $249 AirPods Pro quite a bit, with the Fit Pro packing active noise cancellation and a Transparency mode and the AirPods 3 borrowing the Pro’s overall look and some of their key features. So which of these more affordable alternatives is for you?

The Beats Fit Pro and AirPods 3 both do a lot of things well, from the former’s secure and workout-friendly design to the latter’s Adaptive EQ and Spatial Audio support. But after extensive testing, one of these buds emerged as the clear standout for most people. Here’s how Apple’s latest earbuds stack up.

Sporty buds with great premium features

The Beats Fit Pro are a great choice if you want all of the AirPods Pro's features within a sportier, more colorful design.

Great sound and features for the price

The AirPods 3 are the cheaper of Apple's new earbuds, and deliver strong sound quality and features for the price.

You should get the Beats Fit Pro if…

You want a more secure fit with multiple ear tips

Mike Andronico/CNN

The Beats Fit Pro and AirPods 3 both feel pretty good to wear, but we prefer the softer, more secure fit that the latest Beats buds offer. The Fit Pro’s rubberized wingtip design and soft silicone ear tips provide a fit that feels snug even when you’re exercising (note that both of these buds are IPX4-rated to handle sweat or water).

The Beats Fit Pro also include three sets of swappable ear tips in the box, giving you some options for finding the right fit. The AirPods 3 have a more open, one-size-fits-all design by comparison, and while they’re still fairly comfortable, we think the Fit Pro are cozier.

You want active noise cancellation and Transparency mode
The Beats Fit Pro are basically a sporty version of the AirPods Pro, which means that you get active noise cancellation for blocking out unwanted sounds as well as a Transparency mode for amplifying external audio. Both of these features worked well in our testing, and more crucially, you won’t find them on AirPods 3.

If you can live without those two features, the AirPods 3 and Beats Fit Pro have most of the same Apple-centric benefits. They’ll both pair to your Apple devices instantaneously, offer Spatial Audio for immersive 360-degree sound and feature an Adaptive EQ for optimizing your music on the fly. They’re also similarly impressive when it comes to audio quality, with the AirPods 3 offering slightly more prominent bass and the Beats Fit Pro delivering a more balanced, wider soundstage. But if you want to drown out the outside world while you’re working (or working out), you should go with the Beats.

Related: Beats Fit Pro vs. AirPods Pro: Which earbuds are best?

You want something that works well with both iPhone and Android
The Beats Fit Pro and AirPods 3 both work similarly well for those in the Apple ecosystem, but if you have an Android phone, there’s really no contest. Thanks to the Beats app for Android, the Fit Pro offer nearly the same feature set across all platforms. Android users can toggle listening modes, customize the controls and perform an “Ear Tip Fit Test” to find the right size tips. The AirPods 3 and Beats Fit Pro both paired to our Google Pixel 5a pretty quickly, but you won’t be able to customize the former if you’re on Android.

You like colors (and physical controls)

Mike Andronico/CNN

One of our favorite things about the Beats Fit Pro is that they come in a range of slick colors, including black, white, sage grey and an especially pretty stone purple. Meanwhile, the latest AirPods continue to come in the same ol’ Apple white. They certainly look better than the 2nd-Gen AirPods thanks to their shorter stems, but those who want a choice of color should check out the Fit Pro.

The Beats Fit Pro also stand out from the AirPods with their physical controls, which allow you to control music playback and change listening modes with a quick, satisfying click. The pinch controls on the AirPods 3 work just fine, but we prefer the immediacy of the Beats Fit Pro’s buttons — especially for when we’re staying active.

Key specs:

  • Price: $199.99
  • Colors: Black, White, Sage Grey, Stone Purple
  • Special features: Active noise cancellation, Transparency Mode, Adaptive EQ, Spatial Audio
  • Water resistance: IPX4
  • Size and weight (case): 2.44 x 2.44 x 1.14 inches, 1.9 ounces

You should get the AirPods 3 if…

You want to save a few bucks

Jacob Krol/CNN

Neither of these earbuds are cheap, but the $179 AirPods 3 are slightly more affordable than the $199 Beats Fit Pro (and currently $174.99 on Amazon). We’ll likely see both models go on sale over the coming months, but right now, going with the new AirPods will save you $20 to $25 — that’s a decent chunk of change that you can spend on accessories or a few months of Apple Music.

You prefer a simpler, more open earbud design
While we love the Beats Fit Pro’s snug silicone fit and active noise cancelling, we also know that not everyone wants a pair of earbuds that nestle tightly into your ear. The AirPods 3 have a nice open design that fits a bit looser, allowing you to hear your music well while still letting a fair amount of ambient sound in. If you want something that sounds good out of the box and don’t want to fiddle with different listening modes, there is something to be said about the AirPods 3’s simplicity.

You want a more compact case (and wireless charging) 

Mike Andronico/CNN

The AirPods 3 charging case is much sleeker than the somewhat chunky one that houses the Beats Fit Pro, making it preferable for those with particularly slim pockets. The case also has the advantage of wireless charging support, meaning you can plop it down on your MagSafe or Qi-standard charger of choice in order to juice the buds up. That’s something you can’t do on Beats Fit Pro.

Key specs:

  • Price: $179
  • Colors: White
  • Special features: Spatial Audio, Adaptive EQ
  • Water resistance: IPX4
  • Size and weight (case): 2.14 x 1.83 x 0.84 inches, 1.34 ounces

Bottom line

Mike Andronico/CNN

The $199 Beats Fit Pro and $179 AirPods 3 are both some of Apple’s best earbuds yet, but the latest Beats are the clear standout in almost every way. They have a more secure and comfortable fit than the AirPods, offer active noise cancellation and work really well with iPhones and Android devices alike. Also, they come in purple.

If you’re looking to save $20, there’s still plenty to like about the latest AirPods. They sound great, have all of the useful Apple smarts and include a more compact case. And while we prefer how the Beats Fit Pro feel, the AirPods’ more open design may be more appealing to some. But unless those specific features are calling out to you, we’d recommend that most folks go with the Beats.