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Accessories • July 6, 2019

Powerbeats PRO Earphones Performance Review

What You Need to Know

  • Best sound quality of any in-ear earphone that Thomas has tested
  • Water and sweat resistant, certified in soupy Baltimore humidity
  • Pairs immediately to any iPhone using Apple H1 chip
  • Could turn you into that weirdly happy runner you’re always annoyed with
  • Could turn you into that angry elf runner that punches a hole in the wall right after a meditation session

The new Beats by Dre Powerbeats Pro wireless earphones are a high-end accessory built specifically for athletes. But do the features justify the price tag when competitors like Jaybird offer a similar product at much lower prices? Read on to find out.

The Good

There are a few essential features when it comes to running with wireless earphones, namely sound quality, ambient noise allowance, sweat/water resistance, and battery life. Let’s knock them out.

When it comes to sound quality, the Beats by Dre Powerbeats Pro has it. The depth and warmth of the music are lush and warm, while the treble and bass are crisp and deep. In fact, you may find a “happy pill” smile come across your face mid-run, as you discover nuances in your favorite songs that you hadn’t noticed before.

A concerning quality for runners (especially city runners), is the balance between ambient noise and noise-canceling. Unlike the Apple Airpods that allow in almost any noise, the Powerbeats immerse you in your own world without being true noise-canceling earphones. While the earphones are in, you can still hear a small amount of ambient noise like traffic or someone calling your name, unless you crank them up.

It’s summer in Baltimore, which means soup city when it comes to temperature and humidity. It also means an almost daily occurrence of pop-up thunderstorm. I can attest that they have made it through some sweaty-ass (and sweaty ear) Baltimore runs, with no slippage in terms of fit.

Battery life is very solid. With a 9 hour battery when fully charged, you can get through the long weekend miles without needing a power source. The battery charger is the carrying case, much like the Airpods. Charge up the case, store the earphones in it, and you’ll always be ready to go. If you forgot to charge your Powerbeats, you can still get an hour and a half of listening time with a 5-minute charge.

All the controls are at your fingertips– answer calls, deny calls, turn it up, skip songs. But you don’t have to use your fingers at all, you can just “Hey Siri” and use voice controls. The setup is intuitive; you’ll be taking command of your audio right out of the box.

Once the Powerbeats Pro is in your ears, they are reasonably comfortable. They come with some extra earplug sizes to accommodate and customize your fit. With the Apple H1 chip, the range is extended, allowing the earphones to stay connected with fewer dropouts.

The Bad

Over-the-ear hooks share the same real estate as sunglasses and hats. That means it can get a little crowded and uncomfortable on the top of the ear.

If you’ve ever used true tetherless and wireless earphones, you know that there are times when one earbud is working and the other isn’t. Usually, the fix is putting both buds back in the carrying case, letting them reset, and then trying again. Not a huge issue, but when you are trying to get out the door for your morning run, it may elicit some f-bombs. There go the gains from your pre-run meditation sesh.

Last gripe, one of the nicest features of the Apple AirPods is the size of their recharging case. Their case is small enough to fit in a jeans pocket or the zippered back pocket of your favorite running shorts. Not so much with the Powerbeats PRO. The recharging storage case is about the size of an overstuffed dad wallet. George Costanza approved.

Powerbeats PRO Conclusion

The sound quality on the Powerbeats Pro alone had me loving these earphones. It is like pouring velvet into your ears. The 9-hour battery will get me through anything under a 50-miler. Retailing at $249.99, they’re not cheap; however, all the aforementioned good qualities should assure a good return on your investment.



Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. mark says:

    Really want to get these for the top notch sound but I’m worried about that annoying pressure-suck thudding you can get from tight fitting in-ears get when running. Any comment on that?

    1. greg says:

      I don’t get any of that with these while I can with jabra elites or true in canal. These sit outside and let in some ambient noise so not bad

      1. Thomas Neuberger says:

        Try the different earpieces and get the right fit.

  2. Seung Kim says:

    To me, a true test of water resistance is not just a few test runs. I think many/most products would pass that test. But I’ve never had mp3 players and earphones that can last more than 12 months of hard use (e.g. 20-milers in humid weather). Even the iPod Shuffle gave up the ghost within 8-9 months because it couldn’t handle the sweat. I’d love to know if there are truly sweat-proof (to me, more important than rainproof) mp3 players and earphones that can last at least 3-4 years.

    1. Greg says:

      They did a test and run them through wash…lasted

      1. Seung says:

        Yes, but unless there’s some more evidence of longevity through very sweaty runs, I can’t spend $250 on earphones. I’m not saying that the reviewer should/could have done more, but reviews like this can’t convince me that these will last because I have too many experiences with similarly rated products that failed prematurely.

      2. Thomas Neuberger says:

        Dang! Hardcore.

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  4. Ironsteel says:

    Terrible design flaw where the buds loose charge while in the case. One or more buds are at zero but the case has charge. Need to wiggle it for minutes and check on iPhone just to see if the connection between case and bud is good enough for charging. Typical Apple of refusal to acknowledge problem to avoid class action lawsuit.

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