• UPDATE: stop reading this pre-release nonsense immediately and head to our proper Powerbeats Pro review.
Beats by Dre Powerbeats Pro are almost here. It's all been a bit quiet in the Beats labs of Dr. Dre in recent years – ever since Apple took over, really. The headphones and buds powerhouse has not released anything major since the excellent Studio 3 Wireless noise cancelling headphones, way back at IFA 2017. But just before you all – aha haha – 'forget about Dre' (that's a hip-hop joke), Beats are back back back, with Powerbeats Pro. Beats Powerbeats Pro take practically all the tech from Apple AirPods (apart from wireless charging), and pump it up with gym-friendly features – Beats says they'll boast rock-solid fit and big, big sound.
Powerbeats Pro is out June 7 for £219/$219. I got to try them this week (April 17) and despite the sightly limited circumstances of that 'hands on' I was impressed. There's a strong chance that Powerbeats Pro will prove to be the best running headphones and in-ear gym buds you can buy.
- Jump straight to the key Powerbeats Pro info
- Powerbeats Pro release date and price
- Powerbeats Pro features and battery life
- Pre-order Powerbeats Pro now
- The alternative: AirPods 2
Beats Powerbeats Pro: will they be any good?
• Update, Beats by Dre Powerbeats Pro review (early verdict): I tried the Powerbeats Pro on Thursday and from a short exposure, I'd say they are officially good. They both sound very impressive, thanks to a new piston driver – the last headphones I saw using that approach cost £400 and were proper audiophile gear and seem to fit incredibly well. The promo video below showing how Powerbeats stay in during all manner of activities wasn't done with CGI or glue. They don't just sound good with workout music, even Miles Davis' jazz trumpet came over well. As with several more recent true wireless buds you get very good stereo separation.
Having the same controls on both ears is a masterstroke as well. When you're working out, you don't want to have to worry about your buds falling out, or how to dial volume up and down or skip tracks. Like when Miles Davis suddenly comes on when you're trying to achieve Beast Mode, for instance.
Compared to most true wireless buds, including AirPods, Beats Powerbeats Pro promise absolutely outstanding battery life. If they deliver what they promise, we're looking at 9 hours on a single charge, with 24 hours of battery life in total when you factor in the fact their carry case is also itself a battery. That takes them to the point where the battery ceases to be a pressing issue, especially since you will apparently get 1.5 hours of life from just a 5 minutes of quick charging via USB. There's no wireless charging which, to be honest, I have no problem with whatsoever.
You can tell that Beats have thought long and hard about how to improve the fit and the sound quality of Powerbeats with Powerbeats Pro. Their relative bulk and the fact they're true in-ear headphones rather than buds that just sit in your ears means you can't possibly compare them directly with AirPods, even though that's precisely what everyone is doing.
From my long and often tedious experience of trying differently designed, sized and shaped buds intended to stay in while you work out, it seems to me that Beats have cracked it with this. Although the unavoidable side effect of firm fit is that some will find it uncomfortable, I think the Powerbeats will be easily tolerable for most runners and gym goers. The sound quality makes them among the better-sounding workout buds ever developed and certainly the best true wireless workout buds – they edge out Bose SoundSport Free in that respect.
The obvious caveats here are that a) I haven't actually used these while working out yet and b) they are quite pricey for running headphones or workout buds. The fit seems unshakeable to me, but maybe they will turn out to lose that quality when you get sweaty, or to whistle like a stove-top kettle when you run into a headwind, as the Bose SoundSport Free do.
Undeniably, Powerbeats Pro also seem a little expensive. My favourite true wireless buds for running and gym are Jabra's Elite Active 65t and as you can see below, they can be had way cheaper. However, these new Powerbeats undeniably sound better than Jabra's effort.
The first Powerbeats trailer was released mid April and as you'd imagine, it is star studded and fierce
This Powerbeats Pro promo features some of the greatest and most photogenic athletes in the world, from Simone Biles to Anthony Joshua to Owen Farrell. The music is by Beck and the trailer is directed by Hiro Murai, who did Childish Gambino's Internet-destroying This Is America promo video. The way it shows how Powerbeats stay in place even under the stress of a quite ridiculous range of motion is very well done.
Beats by Dre Powerbeats Pro: Price and release date
Powerbeats Pro in black will be available to pre-order from Apple in the UK on May 31 at 7am with availability beginning June 7. Please see Apple USA for American release details. Price: £219.95 (UK) or $219.95 (US).
Colours: Black, Ivory, Moss and Navy. The latter three colours will be available 'in summer'.
Availability will initially be in the US, UK and 'more than 20 additional countries and regions,' including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. It'll then roll out in further countries from summer.
Beats by Dr Dre Powerbeats Pro: features and battery life
The new Powerbeats are true wireless buds (ie: they connect via Bluetooth and there's no wire joining them together) designed for use as gym or running headphones. In that market they're well ahead of the competition, but they're also arguably the biggest mass-market challenger yet to Apple AirPods – which I am sure Apple is well worried about, given that Beats is an Apple subsidiary.
Powerbeats are AirPods-style true wireless earphones that 'deliver powerful sound for the world’s most passionate music lovers and motivated athletes'. The key features are long-ish battery life, over-ear hooks that should make it harder to have one fall out and get lost and, as on AirPods, access to Siri and speedy pairing with Apple devices – though they will also work perfectly happily with other brands' mobiles, tablets and laptops.
First up the battery life of 9 hours is solid for a lightweight pair of Bluetooth buds, but exceptional for true wireless. As ever with this type of bud, the carrying case is also a battery, so you get 24 hours of playback in total. Beats' Fast Fuel recharging tech means you get 1.5 hours of playback after just 5 minutes of charging and up to 4.5 hours after 15 minutes of charging. That's class leading.
Sound has apparently been improved from the original Powerbeats, which is no bad thing. This is, obviously, direct from Beats: 'The earphones boast an upgraded linear piston driver that leverages an efficient, pressurised airflow to create a powerful acoustic response in a small package. Enhanced sound quality means incredibly low distortion and great dynamic range across the entire frequency curve.'
So that's nice.
Fit has also been improved – again no bad thing at all, as the original Powerbeats didn't always stay as tightly in your ears as you'd like. Lengthy testing and prototyping resulted in, says Beats, "Completely new, ergonomically angled acoustic housing that nests comfortably in the concha bowl of the ear with an off-axis nozzle."
Four sizes of ear tip should ensure a decent fit, then, while the adjustable earhook has also been 'redesigned', although Beats doesn't say how.
Powerbeats Pro is 23 percent smaller than its predecessor and 17 percent lighter. Sweat- and water-resistance (but not waterproofing) is also included.
Handily, there are now volume and track control buttons on both earbuds. That is a neat feature that I've not seen in other true wireless buds before. In Beats-speak it is a, "fully functional, ambidextrous design." Take either bud out of your ear and the audio pauses; put it back and it resumes. Leave them unused for a while and they'll go into sleep mode.
For calls, Powerbeats Pro employs speech-detecting accelerometers and beam-forming microphones, so background noise is filtered out. You can use both buds at once or a single one.
The Apple H1 Chip also means you can now activate Siri without needing to press a button – just use its trigger phrase. This is the same as AirPods 2.