The new Beats Powerbeats Pro are arriving at Apple Stores earlier than expected. I ordered on release day with standard delivery. The estimated delivery date was between May 29th and June 5th. I don’t remember the exact difference, but it was at least a week before in-store pick-up was available.
I’ve periodically checked stock at the Union Square location next to my office. Over the past two weeks, the estimated date for in-store pick-up was June 24th. Until yesterday, when they were available for pickup today. Here’s my first impression after 24 hours with the Beats Powerbeats Pro.
I’ll start with the bad. It’s a very short list. Where the Beats fall short shouldn’t be a deal breaker if you’re looking for a headphone with a more secure fit.
The biggest knock on the Powerbeats is the case. Rightfully so. It has two drawbacks: size and lack of wireless charging.
I don’t find the Powerbeats’ Lightning port to be a major tradeoff. With 24 hours of total playback, including the case, the need to charge is far less frequent than my iPhone. Plugging the case in every few days isn’t a big deal. I’ve got plenty of Lightning cables which is unlikely to change anytime soon.
The physical size of the charging where the Powerbeats fall short of the AirPods. Day to day, it will only be a minor annoyance. It fits fine in my laptop bag, which isn’t very big. But, I often where my AirPods in scenarios where I need to take them off for a few minutes. If I am checking out at the grocery store, it’s nice to be able to quickly toss the AirPods in their case. You might be able to fit the Powerbeats case in a pocket, but it’s not a look I would recommend.
While not ideal, I don’t expect the larger physical case will push me back to AirPods. 9 hours of battery life gives you more freedom from the need to regularly charge. But, I’d prefer to toss them in something more secure than a linty pocket so I picked up a cheap carrying case from Amazon.
Now, where the Powerbeats shine.
More battery life is always a good thing. The Powerbeats deliver 1.8x more listening lime than AirPods. To be fair, the overall talk time, case included, is 24 hours for both headphones.
I don’t have much to say about the audio quality of the Beats. Sound performance is not something that I optimizing for in small, bluetooth headphones. If it passes Apple/Beats’ quality control, that’s probably good enough.
As for the listening experience, the sound isolation provided by the Beats’ rubber ear tips is a plus. I’m often wearing my headphones while on a loud train or walking down a noisy downtown street. At times, environmental noise would overpower the AirPods. Especially while listening an audiobook or podcast where the words are critical.
The sound isolation has nearly eliminated this issue. It’s a nice balance, not an overbearing or unsafe amount of isolation. I’m ashamed I’ve ever walked around San Francisco in pair of noise cancelling headphones. Do not do this. It’s not safe.
There are four sizes of ear tips included. I am currently using the default option. Going up or down in size will allow you to dial in comfort as well as the amount of isolation you prefer.
I was excited about the physical volume control on the Powerbeats when they were announced. Within the first couple uses, it was clear that this was a feature I had no idea how much I missed on the AirPods. Not only is it extremely convenient, but it’s precise. There are certain use cases where a physical button is the ideal solution and, to me, this is one of them.
The primary “B button” pauses/plays if you click once, skips forward when you click twice, and skips back when you click three times. It is a little odd each headset has a volume. I am hoping a software update will allow some degree of configurability. I would love to be able to map skip back/forward to the left volume control.
Comfort & fit
I’ve found the Powerbeats to be as comfortable as AirPods. The ear hook is mostly unnoticeable, even when wearing sunglasses or a hat. The extra weight is insignificant enough that it wasn’t worth including in this post.
The primary reason I passed on the 2nd generation AirPods was fit. The Powerbeats address all my concerns.
I find AirPods very comfortable but the fit in my ears wasn’t great. The stayed in while I was stationary or walking, slowly. Running was not an option. Even a quick head movement might cause them to fly out. My worst fear came true when my left AirPod fell down the crack into the elevator shaft at my office a few months ago.
I don’t fear my headphones tumbling into an elevator shaft or subway track anymore. If the Powerbeats are one thing, they are secure. They make a great compliment to the Apple Watch while running.
I am very happy with new Powerbeats. I expect I’ll miss the convenience of having the charging case at times, but the tradeoffs are worth it.