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Beats by Dre Powerbeats Pro Review

Excellent for athletic endeavors, but can be uncomfortable when worn for long periods
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Price:   $250 List | $200 at Amazon
Pros:  Good sound quality, very secure athletic fit, long battery life
Cons:  Can be uncomfortable when worn for 2+ hours, relatively large charging case
Manufacturer:   Beats by Dre
By Max Mutter and Michelle Powell  ⋅  Jul 29, 2019
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 17
  • Sound Quality - 30% 8
  • Comfort - 20% 6
  • Athletic Performance - 20% 9
  • Battery Life - 15% 9
  • Portability - 15% 6

Our Verdict

If you're looking for a pair of truly wireless earbuds that can stay put during even the most jostling of workouts, the Beats By Dre Powerbeats Pro is the best option we've found. The over-ear hooks of these buds make them by far the most secure of the truly wireless models we've tried on. However, we would only recommend these buds to those that want a soundtrack whilst engaging in some truly high impact activities that might jostle other wireless models out of your ears (think skiing, mountain biking, trampoline jumping, et cetera). Because, while the Powerbeats Pro sound quite good, we've come across some other truly wireless buds that sound better, are secure enough to stay put during the vast majority of peoples' workouts, and cost a bit less. If you're looking for a high-octane earbud for high-octane activities, the Powerbeats Pro will serve you well and are likely worth the premium price. Otherwise, we think you'll be able to find some earbuds that check all of your boxes, and maybe even sound better, for significantly less.


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Price $250 List
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Pros Good sound quality, very secure athletic fit, long battery lifeGreat sound quality, secure fit, great for working outGood sound quality, good for working out, low profile design, relatively inexpensiveSecure fit, great sound qualityIncredibly crisp audio, comfortable
Cons Can be uncomfortable when worn for 2+ hours, relatively large charging caseExpensive, relatively short battery lifeMay not fit large ears wellExpensive, can get in the way of sunglassesBass relatively weak compared to other high end models, not great for athletics
Bottom Line Excellent for athletic endeavors, but can be uncomfortable when worn for long periodsThe best sounding and most comfortable buds we've found for working outA sleek package that offers high end performance at a mid range priceGreat sounding earbuds that can stand up to the most rigorous workoutsTop notch clarity makes for a great listening experience, as long as you’re not working out
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Rating Categories Beats by Dre... Jabra Elite 65t JBL Reflect Mini 2 Beats by Dr. Dre... Beats by Dr. Dre...
Sound Quality (30%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
Comfort (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
Athletic Performance (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
4
Battery Life (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
Portability (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
7
Specs Beats by Dre... Jabra Elite 65t JBL Reflect Mini 2 Beats by Dr. Dre... Beats by Dr. Dre...
Weight (oz) 0.8 0.4 0.54 0.9 0.75
Microphone Yes/No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Claimed Battery Life (hours) 9 5 10 12 8
Measured Battery Life (hours) 11.25 5.25 11.5 10 8
Carrying Case Yes/No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
EMF Measurement 4.4 V/m 4.1 V/m 3.7 V/m 5.8 V/m

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Powerbeats Pro excel at athletic endeavors, but fail to deliver all-day comfort that would make them a permanent fixture in your ears.


Performance Comparison



Great for Apple Users
The Powerbeats Pro use Apple's H1 chip that allows for automatic iPhone pairing upon opening its case. The buds also charge with a lightning cable, the same one used for iPhones.

Sound Quality


While not the best sounding earbuds we tested, the Powerbeats Pro come quite close, offering a robust fullness that many mobile audio products lack.


When meticulously examining the Powerbeats Pro's clarity and bass in isolation, both sound great but fall short of exceptional. The sound is crisp enough that acoustic guitar and voices cut through sounding quite well defined, but they lack that razor-sharp quality that some of the top-scoring models can provide. The bass likewise has plenty of power without sounding too muddled, but falls just a bit short of the thudding thunder of the top models. Thus both acoustic numbers and bass-heavy ballads sound good on these buds, but not quite as good as on some of the top competition. However, when these attributes are combined in more balanced pieces the resulting fullness is impressive and feels quite engrossing, with sharp and poignant treble notes anchored by a weighty baseline. It's definitely a whole is greater than the sum of its parts scenario.

When they fit well  the Powerbeats Pro are some of the most melodious buds we've tested.
When they fit well, the Powerbeats Pro are some of the most melodious buds we've tested.

We should note that these buds do sound noticeably better when they fit snugly in your ears, and they offer four different bud sizes that can accommodate most ear sizes. However, the over-ear hooks of these buds make them much more stable, meaning you can more easily wear them without a snug fit of the actual earbud. The hooks can often pull the bud away from your ear a bit as well, making getting a snug fit a bit more difficult. While we like this for activities like biking, where a less-than-snug earbud means you're more aware of surrounding noises, the lack of a tight fit can make the buds sound a bit hollow and tinny.

Phone Calls


When using the Powerbeats Pro for phone calls, the audio generally comes through crisp and clear. In noiseless environments the microphone also performs quite well, treating whoever you're talking with to clear audio. However, we found that the microphone does tend to pick up lots of ambient noise when used in noisy environments, generally not to a degree that your voice is drowned out, but it can be a bit annoying and distracting.

Comfort


Overall, we think the Powerbeats Pro are some of the most comfortable earbuds around when it comes to working out, but possibly some of the least comfortable when worn for prolonged periods.


This dichotomy is largely due to the unique design of the Powerbeats Pro. Their athletic comfort is aided by the large, over-ear hooks that plant them securely in place. When working out, especially for repetitive impact activities like mountain biking, this extra security completely erases that almost vertiginous feeling you get when gravity is trying anxiously to rip earbuds out of your ears.

However, the security of that ear hook can often make the buds decidedly uncomfy when used in non-athletic situations. This is because you basically have two options in these situations: you can let the weight rest completely on the ear hooks while the buds themselves sit, un-snugly, a bit outside your ear, or you can adjust the ear hooks so that they push the actual buds into your ears and create a very snug fit. In the former situation, there is an appreciable loss of sound quality, and you lose any sort of noise isolation whatsoever. In the latter situation that slight pressure of the buds being pushed into your ears can get old pretty quickly (we generally wanted to take them off before hitting the 2-hour mark).

The ear hook provides superior stability  but can sometimes make getting a good fit of the actual earbud slightly more difficult.
The ear hook provides superior stability, but can sometimes make getting a good fit of the actual earbud slightly more difficult.

Bottom line, we think the Powerbeats Pro have a great athletic fit, but you likely won't want to wear them all day at the office.

Athletic Performance


As we've mentioned before, the over-ear hooks of the Powerbeats Pro make them the most secure feeling of all the truly wireless earbuds we've tested. They are 100% the first bud we'd reach for if we wanted a soundtrack while mountain biking, skiing, trampoline jumping, or anything else that can involve some serious impact that might otherwise pry your expensive buds out of your ears.


Many people have come to us asking if we would recommend the Powerbeats Pro for running. The short answer is yes, these buds feel incredibly secure and, especially if you have a very heavy stride, are likely going to feel less bouncy than other truly wireless earbuds. However, we've tested other truly wireless earbuds that sound just as good, are significantly less expensive, and that have easily stood up to our running tests. So while the Powerbeats Pro certainly work great for running, you may not need to pay their price premium to get good performance from a truly wireless running earbud.

These buds can stay put (without any annoying tugging sensations) through pretty much any activity.
These buds can stay put (without any annoying tugging sensations) through pretty much any activity.

Battery Life


The PowerbeatsPro offer some serious battery life. We measured the buds themselves to last slightly over 11 hours on a single charge, besting even the manufacturer spec of 9 hours. The charging case holds about two charges worth of juice, meaning you can likely get over 30 hours of playback out of a fully charged case and buds.


Portability


This is one area where the Powerbeats Pro are somewhat less than ideal. The buds themselves are quite slim and light, weighing in at less than an ounce for the pair. However, the large over-ear hooks necessitate a much larger than average carrying/charging case. This case is by no means hefty, but it is large enough to feel quite awkward when carried in a front pocket.


Value


The Beats by Dre Powerbeats Pro are nearly $100 more than most other truly wireless earbuds on the market. If you're looking for buds that can comfortably stay put during the highest impact activities, these buds may be worth the premium. Otherwise, we think there are better deals to be found elsewhere.

The Powerbeats Pro and the included charging case.
The Powerbeats Pro and the included charging case.

Conclusion


The Powerbeats Pro are great earbuds with an incredibly secure and athletic fit. However, their high price and propensity to get uncomfortable when worn for more than a couple of hours may dissuade many potential buyers.


Max Mutter and Michelle Powell