Apple's Beats brand today shared a new video designed to promote Powerbeats Pro, Apple's upcoming wire-free earbuds that are similar to the AirPods, but designed with fitness and sports in mind.
The video features multiple famous athletes and a brand new single, "Saw Lightning," from Beck. Beck's new song was released today alongside the ad and is available on Apple Music. The video was directed by Hiro Murai, a Grammy Award winning filmmaker who directed the hit music video for Childish Gambino's song "This is America."
In the video, each of the athletes is wearing a set of white Powerbeats Pro while playing their respective sports, ranging from gymnastics to basketball. Beats says that the video is part of a new "UNLEASHED" campaign promoting the Powerbeats Pro.
Athletes featured include gymnast Simone Biles, boxer Anthony Joshua, tennis pro Serena Williams, basketball player LeBron James, soccer player Eden Hazard, rugby player Owen Farrell, boxer Ramla Ali, weightlifter Zoe Smith, basketball player Ben Simmons, football player Odell Beckham Jr., skier Kevin Rolland, skateboarder Leticia Bufoni, boulderer Miho Nonaka, snowboarder Shaun White, soccer player Alex Morgan, runner Ruddy Trobrillant, and ballet dancer Jasmine Perry.
Apple plans to release Powerbeats Pro in May, with the new earbuds set to cost $250 in the United States. A specific launch date is not yet known, nor has Apple said whether pre-orders will be available ahead of time.
Powerbeats Pro also offer longer battery life at nine hours per earbud before needing to be recharged with the wireless charging case, and they are designed to better stay in the ears than AirPods with an earhook that holds them in place and ear tips in four sizes.
Apple has also said that sound was a focus with the Powerbeats Pro, and that they'll be able to hold up well to sweat.
AirPods are made for casual use and feature a one size fits all design with a rounded bulb-like earpiece and a microphone-equipped tail that extends out of the ears. There's no additional hook or other mechanism to keep them in the ears.
Powerbeats Pro are designed for fitness and have a design similar to prior Powerbeats models with earhooks that fit over the ears to secure them in place along with four ear tips in various sizes for a customizable fit.
Powerbeats Pro are meant to stay in the ears during vigorous activity and Apple tested more than 20 configurations before arriving at a design that fits most people.
Both the Powerbeats Pro and the AirPods come in charging cases, but while the AirPods charging case is small, compact, and the size of a dental floss container, the Powerbeats Pro charging case is much larger, clamshell-like, and not as pocketable.
Sound Differences and Noise Isolation
Powerbeats Pro use rubber ear tips in four sizes similar to traditional earbuds, which means they're designed to create a tight fit in the ear to isolate ambient noises. There is no feature for adding in ambient noise, which is something to be aware of if you plan to use these in situations where you need to hear what's going on around you.
AirPods have no similar ambient noise filtering because they are not designed to fit tightly in the ear canal.
Apple says sound was a focus when designing the Powerbeats Pro, with the new earbuds offering powerful, balanced audio with pure sound reproduction, enhanced clarity, and improved dynamic range.
Apple makes no similar claims about the AirPods and instead describes them as having "rich, high-quality sound." We'll need to wait for hands-on reviews for more specific details about the sound differences between Powerbeats Pro and AirPods.
You can tap on the AirPods to do things like activate Siri or change the song track, but there are no actual physical buttons.
The Powerbeats Pro is larger with more available surface area, and it does feature physical buttons for adjusting the volume, changing the song track, and accepting or declining a call.
There is no off button on the AirPods and there is no off button on the Powerbeats Pro. The Powerbeats Pro come on when taken out of the charging case and turn off when put back in, and will also go into a sleep mode after a period of inactivity to preserve battery life. The AirPods work the same way.
According to Apple, the Powerbeats Pro are sweat and water resistant. Apple has not provided a specific IP rating for the Powerbeats Pro, but the company makes no claims at all about the water resistance of the AirPods.
According to Apple, the Powerbeats Pro have been engineered to handle sweat without failing, but you probably shouldn't wear them in the shower or while swimming.
Powerbeats Pro Colors vs. AirPods 2 Colors
AirPods only come in white, but Powerbeats Pro come in Black, Ivory (an off white shade), Navy, and Moss (an olive green). AirPods also feature a white charging case while all Powerbeats Pro models ship with a black charging case.
Apple's AirPods are priced at $199 for the version with a Wireless Charging Case or $159 for the version without one, while Powerbeats Pro cost $250.
That's almost a full $100 over the base model of the AirPods.
Processor, Sensors, and Siri Support
The Powerbeats Pro use the same H1 chip that's in the AirPods 2 for faster connections to your devices, faster switching between devices, lower latency, and support for hands-free "Hey Siri" activation.
As with the AirPods, using "Hey Siri" requires the Powerbeats Pro to be paired with a compatible device like an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch.
Powerbeats Pro have all of the same sensors and features that are in the AirPods, including ear detection that plays/pauses music appropriately based on position.
As with the AirPods, you can use just one Powerbeats Pro earbud or use both at the same time.
AirPods have a speech-detecting accelerometer and beamforming microphones that filter out external noise when you're making a phone call or a Siri request, and the Powerbeats Pro have the same feature.
The Powerbeats Pro actually have two beamforming microphones on each side to make up for the lack of a stem like the AirPods have. Phone calls on both the AirPods and the Powerbeats Pro are designed to sound crisp and clear.
Each Powerbeats Pro earbud offers nine hours of listening time, which is a full four hours longer than the AirPods promise. AirPods offer five hours of battery life, but the battery life of both the AirPods and the Powerbeats Pro is extended to over 24 hours with their respective charging cases.
The AirPods and the AirPods Wireless Charging Case can be charged using either Lightning or Qi-based wireless charging. The Powerbeats Pro case does not feature support for Qi-based wireless charging and must be charged with a Lightning cable.
The Powerbeats Pro have a Fast Fuel feature that adds 1.5 hours of music playback after five minutes of charging and 4.5 hours of playback after 15 minutes of charging.
Apple's AirPods have a similar fast charging feature but it's not quite as good due to the smaller battery, offering three hours of listening time with a 15 minute charge.
Here's an at-a-glance comparison chart that gives a quick overview of the differences between the AirPods 2 and the Powerbeats Pro.
Apple's AirPods 2 and new Powerbeats Pro earbuds are clearly aimed at different target markets. While the AirPods 2 are for casual listening on a day to day basis, the more expensive Powerbeats Pro are designed for physical activity including sports, workouts, and more.
The AirPods are smaller and more convenient to carry and offer more convenient wireless charging methods, while the Powerbeats Pro offer longer battery life, superior sweat resistance, more color options, sound isolation, and potentially a different sound profile.
Choosing between AirPods 2 and Powerbeats Pro will depend on how the AirPods fit in your ears - some people can't get a good fit with the one size fits all design -- and your budget. The Powerbeats Pro's earhooks and ear tips in multiple sizes will potentially offer a better fit and will certainly be the better option for people who need earbuds for physical activity.
The Powerbeats Pro are going to cost $250, and Apple says they are coming in May. According to Apple, the Powerbeats Pro deliver "powerful, balanced sound with dynamic range and noise isolation for a premium listening experience."
The Powerbeats Pro, like the current Powerbeats, are sweat and water resistant and include the Powerbeats earhooks in four sizes for keeping them securely in place during workouts.
"Powerbeats Pro is a harmonious blend of premium sound, fit and functionality. Powerbeats are already the #1 fitness headphones in the world and they are now untethered, with all the benefits of the Apple H1 chip," said Luke Wood, president of Beats. "No longer do you have to choose between performance and practicality--it delivers the best on both fronts."
To get an ideal fit for most people, Apple tested more than 20 configurations to arrive at an "ergonomically angled housing" designed to nest "comfortably in the concha bowl of the ear with an off-axis nozzle." Apple says Powerbeats Pro are 23 percent smaller and 17 percent lighter than the Powerbeats 3.
There are physical controls on each earbud, with a dedicated volume buttons for adjusting the volume, and a button for answering and declining phone calls and changing the track that's currently playing. Like the AirPods, the Powerbeats Pro automatically detect when they're in your ears and can play/pause music accordingly.
The Powerbeats Pro come in their own clamshell-style charging case, which adds over 24 hours of combined playback with the nine hours of listening time that you get from each earbud. There's a 5-minute Fast Fuel feature that provides up to 1.5 hours of charging in five minutes.
Apple says the Powerbeats Pro use "Class 1 Bluetooth technology" for extended range and fewer dropouts, and the H1 chip that's in the second-generation AirPods is also in the Powerbeats Pro.
Apple is making the Powerbeats Pro available in four colors: Black, Ivory, Moss, and Navy. The Powerbeats Pro launch in May in US 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, Switzerland and the UK.
Apple has started marketing its Powerbeats Pro earphones ahead of their upcoming release with a pair of ads in Hollywood.
A banner ad and nearby billboard reveal that the Powerbeats Pro will be "truly wireless," as expected, making them the first cord-free Beats earphones like AirPods. A photo of the ad was tipped to 9to5Mac, which earlier uncovered an image of the Powerbeats Pro and their charging case hidden in iOS 12.2 code.
Image Credit: 9to5Mac
CNET was first to report on Apple's plans to release cord-free Powerbeats, which will essentially be fitness-oriented AirPods, ideal for the gym, sports, running, and so forth. The website said the new Powerbeats will launch in April, and Apple's ads in Hollywood apparently confirm they are "coming soon."
It appears the Powerbeats Pro will be available in both black and white, but pricing remains to be seen. AirPods start at $159, while Powerbeats3 Wireless with a cord between each earbud are regularly $199.95 in the United States.
Last week, CNET shared a new rumor suggesting Apple is working on a pair of wire-free Powerbeats Wireless Earphones designed for workouts, similar in design to the AirPods. Today, those new earbuds, called the Powerbeats Pro, were spotted in iOS 12.2.
The iOS 12.2 update, which was released following Apple's event, has an image of the Powerbeats Pro discovered by 9to5Mac, giving us our first glimpse at what Apple's Beats-branded wire-free earbuds will look like.
The Powerbeats Pro show no wire between them and are housed in a Beats-branded charging case that will provide power and a place to store the Powerbeats when not in use. It appears the Powerbeats Pro will be available in both black and white.
It's not clear when Apple plans to release the Powerbeats Pro, but with imagery available in iOS 12.2, they could come relatively soon.
CNET says the new earbuds could include the H1 chip that's in Apple's recently released second-generation AirPods, and while not mentioned, it's possible the Powerbeats will also support wireless Qi charging.
The new Powerbeats could also offer better bass and water resistance than the AirPods, as well as the ability to stay in the ears during rigorous activity.
If that's the case, the Powerbeats could also be compatible with the long-awaited AirPower, which rumors suggest is supposed to be launching soon.
There's no word on what the new Powerbeats will cost. Apple priced the new AirPods with Wireless Charging Case at $199, and current Powerbeats also cost $199, so the price could stay the same or increase to match the AirPods price increase.