If you’re running and gunning for the best workout buds this year, it’s only a matter of time before you stumble across the Beats Powerbeats Pro Bluetooth headphones. And for good reason. As far as we’re concerned, the Beats Powerbeats Pro are the best you can buy. In fact for a long time, they sat at the top of both our Best running headphones list and the true wireless earbuds one.
They combine IPX4 water- and sweat-resistance with a low-profile style, signature Apple integration, and fantastic audio capabilities. Their over-the-ear design is comfortable, too, resulting in a snug, secure fit.
If you’re a Beats fan who is less flush with ca$h and who doesn’t mind wires so much, there is another option. Beats Powerbeats – popularly known as Beats Powerbeats 4, although Beats by Dr. Dre actually stopped numbering this line after version 3 – are ostensibly the same as Powerbeats Pro in every way. Except, of course, that they are not true wireless. Instead, they are joined together by one wire.
When you factor in the functionality, feature set, and fit, there’s an awful lot to like about these Bluetooth buds, especially if you’re a running enthusiast.
So, are the Beats Powerbeats Pro buds worth the extra outlay? It’s time for a family feud between the Beats Powerbeats Pro and Beats Powerbeats 4…
|Beats Powerbeats Pro||Beats Powerbeats 4|
|Wireless Charging Case||Yes||No|
|Rated Battery Life||9 hours (24 hours with charging case)||15 hours|
|Water Resistance||IPX4 (for sweat and water, but not water sports)||IPX4 (for sweat and water, but not water sports)|
|Special Features||Apple/Android compatible, audio sharing, announced messages with Siri, adjustable ear hook fit, Fast-Fuel Charging, control music and calls on right earbuds, “Hey Siri” voice-activated assistance||Apple/Android compatible, audio sharing, announced messages with Siri, adjustable ear hook fit, Fast-Fuel Charging, control music and calls (on right earbud), “Hey Siri” voice-activated assistance|
Beats Powerbeats Pro vs Beats Powerbeats: Price
This is always a good place to start. For that extra $100, you get the freedom of true wireless earbuds, plus a charging case that adds a lot of extra battery life. Although it should, as it is HUGE. There’s some other minutiae to consider, but those are the two main perks you’re paying for: no wires and a big case.
Beats Powerbeats Pro vs Beats Powerbeats: Battery Life
Speaking of which, let’s talk about that extra juice. While the Powerbeats Pro buds are rated for 9 hours of playback, which is very good for true wireless earbuds, the Powerbeats 4 headphones can pump out 15 hours of playback on a single charge.
Of course, the Powerbeats Pro has an extra trick up its sleeve: thanks to the included charging case, you can recharge these bass-heavy buds on the go for up to 24 hours of playback. But obviously, you can't listen to them while they're in the case.
As a bonus, both buds come with built-in rapid-charging technology: just 5 minutes of charging will net you a whole hour of 'jams'.
Beats Powerbeats Pro vs Beats Powerbeats: Design
The Powerbeats 4 headphones are slightly heavier than the Powerbeats Pro (26.3 grams vs. 20.3 grams), but the earhook/ear tip combo is essentially identical. The Powerbeats are primarily distinguished by that extra cable, connecting the two earbuds.
True wireless buds are easier to lose.Even though there is zero chance of Powerbeats Pro falling out of your ears, if you take one out there is a risk of dropping it, or absent-mindedly putting it down somewhere. The cable on the non-Pro Powerbeats is undeniably handy for hanging the buds around your neck when not in use.
However, we have found since moving to true wireless it is impossible to go back to wired. This is especially true during vigorous workouts, as that one wire on the back of your neck can occasionally snag.
Beats Powerbeats Pro vs Beats Powerbeats: Audio Quality
Both of these headphones utilise the same 12mm drivers, and as far as we can tell, audio performance is completely identical.
If you are used to older Beats headphones, which tended to favour bass and volume over everything else, you'll find that the well-balanced sound has surprising depth. There's deep but not excessive bass, rich midranges, and clear highs across the board. What remains from legacy Beats is the sense of power and excitement that their audio exudes.
Beats Powerbeats Pro vs Beats Powerbeats: Extra Features
In addition to those 12mm audio drivers, both headphones include dual-beaming microphones; a speech-detecting accelerometer; IPX4 water resistance (neither model is waterproof); and no-touch pairing with iOS devices. They also let you summon Siri without a button press, if you're an iOS user.
While the Powerbeats Pro offers mirrored controls on each bud, the Powerbeats 4 only offers such controls on the right side – the left earbud controls power and pairing.
Beats Powerbeats Pro vs Beats Powerbeats: Verdict
In case this hadn't come over in the reviews so far, these buds are identical in terms of fit and sound, both of which are best in class for running headphones and workout earbuds.
The Beats Powerbeats Pro are the best of the best of the best, because true wireless is ideal for running and gym headphones. We also find that having volume and play/pause controls on both buds is remarkably handy when things are getting sweaty and intense. However, Powerbeats Pro do cost substantially more.
If those wires aren’t a nuisance, Powerbeats 4 serve up more battery life, at a lower price and they look, feel and sound exactly the same as their more illustrious sibling.
Short verdict: if you can afford the extra cost, opt for the Pro model.