Apple subsidiary Beats has announced the Powerbeats Pro, $250 H1-powered workout-oriented headphones that dispense with all wires. Apple purchased Beats in 2014 and has incorporated some of its technologies like the W1 chip into its Powerbeats and Beats Solo3 headphones, but until now, Beats didn’t offer headphones that competed directly with AirPods.
The Powerbeats Pros aren’t entirely a surprise. As Guilherme Rambo reported for 9to5Mac last week, iOS 12.2 includes hidden images of the Powerbeats Pro headphones. However, the new headphones’ official announcement provides additional details.
The Powerbeats Pros will be available starting in May in the US and 20 other countries and come in four different colors: black, ivory, navy, and moss. The water and sweat resistant Pros are a significant step up from the existing Powerbeats because they are truly wireless in the same way AirPods are wireless. Unlike the original Powerbeats, which will continue to be available and have a wire that connects one ear to the other and wraps around your head, the Pros are independent wireless headphones that benefit from the quick connectivity afforded by the H1 chip. The Powerbeats Pro also include physical controls and charge via a Lightning connector using an AirPods-like charging case instead of the micro USB connector used in the Powerbeats model. However, unlike the latest iteration of AirPods, Powerbeats Pro do not support wireless Qi charging.
Also, the H1 chip means that the Powerbeats Pro headphones can be controlled with ‘Hey Siri’ commands. There are four sizes of headphone tips to fit a range of ear sizes, and the earhook that wraps around your ear is adjustable. Beats says that the new headphones have up to 4 hours more battery life than AirPods for a total of 9 hours of playback time, which exceeds 24 hours when charged using the case.
The Verge got early access to the Powerbeats Pro and has a hands-on review of the headphones. The assessment by Chris Welch is generally positive, and although I haven’t had the opportunity to try the Powerbeats Pros yet myself, they look like a good option for anyone for whom AirPods don’t fit well and who works out regularly. That said, at $250, the Powerbeats Pros are pricey compared to competing third-party products, so it’s worth considering other available options before purchasing the Pros.