ByLinky Johnson 2019-05-10 1271
The look of the Powerbeats Pro is much more contemporary than that of its predecessors, the Powerbeats 3. There's no longer the clip-style design that houses the main components; it's been replaced by something much thinner and less prominent. I wouldn't say Powerbeats Pro are subtle - I would reserve that adjective for a product like Samsung's Galaxy Buds. The ear hooks don't help, but while I can't imagine using Powerbeats 3, I could use Powerbeats Pro.
The clip looks much more elegant and does not completely cover the ear. That's largely because the Powerbeats Pro is smaller. With a 17 percent weight reduction, and 23 percent less internal volume, their design is much more efficient. Best of all, of course, there's no longer an awkward cable to hold them together. Beats has finally reached the era of the truly wireless.
The loudspeaker in each hearing aid is slightly tilted, and this, along with precisely sized silicone tips, helps to give a comfortable fit. I didn't feel any kind of pressure in the sensitive areas of my ear - the hearing aids felt light and comfortable.
The fit feels great, and there are four other silicone tips to choose from, so there are options if the default tips are too big or too small for your ear. When listening to music, the outside world is almost completely blocked thanks to their fit, though, it should be noted that I tried them in a quiet hotel room during the Apple press event. A real test will have to wait until you have a pair that can take you out into the real world.
There are two buttons on each headset: a volume control on the top edge, and a multifunction button (with the Beats logo). As with AirPods, their presence in both headphones allows you to use the hand you want to control playback and volume. You can also use the multi-function button to handle phone calls, and you can leave it pressed to talk to Siri.
During the limited time I wore the headphones I did not make any sudden movements, but the hooks should help keep the Powerbeats Pro in your ears. After all, they are designed for athletes, and so they are also resistant to sweat and water. The company has not disclosed an official IPX rating, but Beats said you have nothing to worry about if you sweat heavily or wear them while it rains; just don't submerge them under water.
A big advantage of being owned by Apple, of course, is access to the company's technology. The recently launched AirPods 2 are powered by Apple's latest H1 processor, and that same chip is inside the Powerbeats Pro. This is an evolution of the W1 chip that comes in the original AirPods and other Beats products, and offers a slight improvement in connectivity and overall efficiency.
Apple boasted benefits of the new AirPods such as a 50 percent longer talk time, the ability to activate Siri only with voice, more stable connections and more. Many of those things also apply to Powerbeats Pro. You can simply say "Hey, Siri", instead of pressing the multi-function button for a long time.
What I loved was that each headset now connects individually to the source device. That means, if you want, you can use just one (no matter which one). If you want to go for a run with a hearing aid, go ahead. Do you want to use one while the other is charging? No problem. That's why there are physical controls on both - it offers a lot more versatility.
The company also mentioned better call quality. Inside the Powerbeats Pro is a voice detection accelerometer that identifies through vibrations when the user's jaw moves. Two beam-forming microphones work in coordination with this sensor to filter out outside noise and focus on the user's voice. I didn't get a chance to make a call while using them, but we will definitely try this.
To top it off, in the Powerbeats Pro there are long-range and short-range optical sensors that automatically play or stop music when you put on or take off the headphones in your ears and are linked to an iOS device. This also works with calls.
What do Powerbeats Pro sound like? I could only hear a few songs, so you'll have to wait for the full review to see a detailed analysis, but I was impressed by the way the headphones handled the bass tones. The bass in songs like Daft Punk's Get Lucky is impressively clear. It's easy to hear everything that happens in the bass register, where things often get confusing. This is due to a new piston controller that can expel more air through a smaller acoustic chamber, so there is less distortion; there is also a ventilation chamber at the back of the headphones to decrease the pressure in the ear, which also helps to balance the bass.
The basses sounded excellent, but not overwhelming. The music sounded well balanced in the Powerbeats Pro, and I insist on the theme of clarity. There is enough power in the low tones, but the rest of the frequency range was balanced.
Like most wireless headphones, Powerbeats Pro come in a case that increases battery life. Unfortunately, here the case is so big that it's almost comical.
In this photo it appears next to Samsung's latest Galaxy Buds. You don't want to put this in your pants. This proves who the target consumer is - people who are likely to carry a gym bag. I wish there was a way to decrease the size a little, but this is not possible if the hooks are part of the design. Most women will probably have to throw them in their bag, or just leave the case at home.
There is a good reason to leave it at home. Beats mentions a battery life of nine hours of playback per headset. By comparison, Apple AirPods 2 offer only five hours of playback. Carrying the case with you will give you more than 24 hours of battery life (it offers two full recharges) but chances are that this is not an everyday necessity and that hearing aids alone will suffice.
The case does not recharge wirelessly, unlike the new optional AirPod case. You'll need to charge it with a Lightning cable, as there's only one Lightning port on the back. It's a shame it's not a USB-C port, which is more universal outside the Apple ecosystem.
Beats Fast Fuel fast charge technology is back, offering an hour and a half of playback with only 5 minutes of charge. A 15-minute charge will give you a presumed four-and-a-half hour playback time. To help conserve battery life, the headphones also feature a motion accelerometer that will detect when you put them on a table (or just stand still and not in your ear) - activating an energy-saving mode so you don't lose battery life.
What the case does have is an LED light that indicates when the battery is low, but if you pair the Powerbeats Pro with an iPhone, when you open it you'll automatically see a notification on your phone that tells you which battery is left in the headphones and case. Sadly, this, along with other features like "Hey, Siri", doesn't work when Powerbeats Pro is connected to an Android phone.
For headphones with such a long battery life and the fact that they are waterproof you will pay more than for AirPods: Powerbeats Pro will cost $250.
That's a $50 increase over its predecessor, and just to compare, second-generation AirPods with the wireless charging case cost $200. In any case, the audio quality and battery life make it seem like the price increase is worth it, though you'll have to decide if the ear hook design and fit are what you're looking for.
You can get them in black, ivory, moss or navy blue, and they will be available sometime in May. They look like an attractive option but more tests will give us a stronger opinion of these headphones, so stay tuned.
|You may also want to read:|
|Apple AirPods 2 review: better connectivity, a wireless charger and more battery life|
|Apple AirPods 2 vs. AirPods 1: what's different between the two true wireless earbud sets?|
|Apple Powerbeats Pro earphones released for $249.95 with 9 hours of battery life|
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Powerbeats Pro will be available on May 10th