The current Powerbeats 3 earphones are already “wireless,” but like many models, they’re connected with a band or tether to an in-line remote. The Powerbeats Pro, announced on April 3, will go fully wireless. DT’s Julian Chokkattu spent some time with the new earbuds; his review called them “leaps and bounds more contemporary than their predecessors.”
While rumors swirled around the updated Apple Airpods 2, little had emerged about the Beats update — until 9to5Mac unveiled what the outlet calls an exclusive first look at Beats’ true wireless sports headphones and charging case in late March.
— 9to5Mac.com (@9to5mac) March 25, 2019
History is on the side of the Powerbeats Pro coming out in April. In 2016, Beats similarly followed the release of the first-generation AirPods with the BeatsX earphones. The original AirPods were powered by Apple’s W1 chip, which was also used for the BeatsX, though the latter pair wasn’t fully wireless.
The Powerbeats Pro will feature Apple’s H1 chip, which is also found in the new AirPods (but are the new AirPods really a good update?). The new chip is designed to improve the audio experience and wireless synchronization of the updated AirPods, with 50 percent longer talk time and 30 percent lower video latency than its predecessor. The H1 chip also enables always-on Siri, allowing wearers to call Apple’s digital assistant with the wake words “Hey, Siri” instead of having to tap on the AirPods. The H1 chip will enable similar improvements for the new Powerbeats earphones, Apple says.
The new headphones may be viewed by customers as a sportier alternative to the AirPods — perhaps explaining why Apple didn’t deem it necessary to add features like a more secure fit or waterproofing to its latest AirPods model. These were among the upgrades expected ahead of the AirPods announcement, but true to the prediction of famed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in December, the AirPods received only minor updates.
Meanwhile, Samsung released the Galaxy Buds – which compare well with the new Airpods. First, they offer an hour more listening time, for a total of six hours between charges, and second, they have those comfortable silicone eartips to seal out the outside world. That means everything comes through cleaner and tighter when listening, and that you’re less likely to be annoyed by the sounds around you. Will the Powerbeats compete? We look forward to spending more time with the Powerbeats to offer a more in-depth assessment.
Kuo, meanwhile, believes that the changes will be more significant in the 2020 version of the AirPods. The analyst claims that the wireless earbuds will receive an all-new design next year, though he did not provide details on what next year’s AirPods will look like.
Price and availability
The new, truly wireless Powerbeats Pro earphones will be $159 with a standard charging case — a price that is unchanged from the previous version — and $199 with a new wireless charging case. Both are available for order on Apple.com right now, and will be in stores next week. You can also buy just the wireless charging case for $79.
The Powerbeats 3 is currently listed at $200, while the new AirPods carries a price tag of $159 with a standard charging case and $199 with a wireless charging case.
Updated 4-5-2019: Added links to our hands on review of the Powerbeats Pro.