How much do you hate wires? That’s a question raised by the new Powerbeats headphones if you’re also considering the truly wireless Powerbeats Pro – because the “basic” Powerbeats are £90 cheaper at £129.95, have a longer battery life and offer the same sound quality.
The trade-off is a wire that runs between the buds. So tell us, how much do you hate that wire on headphones? That wire can be annoying while running or doing cardio exercises like burpees, bouncing around and sometimes sticking to the skin, so we’ll be checking that out when we review the new Powerbeats, but it would have to be really quite annoying to make us ignore a saving of £90. The biggest problem with bouncing wires generally is that it can gently tug on a bud, dislodging it, a problem negated by the Powerbeats’ secure ear hook design.
At 15 hours of battery life the Powerbeats outstrip any truly wireless buds we’ve come across. Previously the nine hours you get from the Powerbeats Pro were as good as it gets if you go completely cord-free. The Powerbeats also offer one hour of playback from a five-minute charge – less than the 90 minutes you get from the Pro from five minutes in the charging case, which is curious.
The controls are different from the Pro buds as well. Since the Pro headphones can be used independently, there are identical controls on each side, but with the Powerbeats the main controls are on the right side, with the left button turning them on and off (something you can’t do with the Pro – you just put them back in the case to turn off) and activating Bluetooth pairing.
While the Powerbeats don’t have as high a waterproof rating as some sports headphones like the Jaybird Vista or Jabra Elite Active 75t, the IPX4 rating means they are sweat- and water-resistant. It’s the same rating as the Pro and the Apple AirPods, and we’ve used those for a lot of sweaty runs in all conditions with no trouble.
The sound quality of the Powerbeats Pro impressed us and, with the same drivers in the buds, it should be exactly the same on the Powerbeats.
Of course the Powerbeats aren’t just competing against the Powerbeats Pro, but they look like they’ll stack up well against the competition. The Jaybird Tarah Pro headphones are the closest rival in the premium wireless (but not truly wireless) area, offering 14 hours of battery life and a more rugged design, but are £10 more than the Powerbeats.
There are also great options under £100 or even £50 – notably Jaybird offers a standard Tarah with six hours of battery for £90 (often less on Amazon) – but none that offer the Powerbeats’ combination of sound quality, long battery life and a guaranteed fit. Look out for our full review of the headphones in the coming weeks.
The Powerbeats come in three colours – black, red and white – and will be available on the Apple website from 18th March.
Buy from Apple | £129.95