Updated December 8th: We compare the new AirPods Max vs. Beats Studio Wireless.
There are many different types of headphones on the market – ranging from high-end Bose Headphones to no-name Airpods knock-offs. This makes it challenging for individuals to choose the best. Beats doesn’t make it any easier: with a dizzying number of headphone styles, which Beats headphones are the best for you?
Beats vs. AirPods Comparison: Why is it so confusing?
Well, for starters, Apple now owns Beats by Dre. Not only do the Beats Headphones compete against each other, but the Beats Headphones also compete against Apple’s AirPods. In fact, they use a lot of the same technology. Beats currently has 7 current models and Apple has two different types of AirPods: The AirPods and AirPods Pro.
Beats vs. AirPods: How they are the same?
With Apple now owning Beats by Dre – they have a lot of the same technology. The biggest area they are the same is the W1/H1 Chip.
What is the W1/H1 Chip in the AirPods and Beats?
The W1/H1 is a proprietary system-in-package chip that allows an array of improved abilities to its AirPods and Beats headphones. Mainly, this allows AirPods and Beats Headphones to connect super easily to Apple Products (iPhones, Macs and more). The W1 Chip also allows you to take advantage of some advanced Apple features like sharing audio with two pairs of Beats and two pairs of AirPods.
The W1 Chip is the previous version of the chip. The H1 is the newer version of the chip. The H1 added a lower audio latency and the ability for have accelerometers in the chip to see where your head is moving. This allows the audio to have a 3D effect, but in all honest, we’ve never used it.
All the AirPods and Beats products work with any Bluetooth device, not just Apple devices.
AirPods vs. Beats By Dre – How are they different?
The main difference between the AirPods and Beats is the different uses – and price. We’ll dive into the best products for how you will use them.
beats vs. airpods – What are the different models?
There are only two different AirPods styles: the AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The AirPods also have a wireless charging case option that is additional. The AirPods Pro come with a wireless charging case.
AirPods – Classic $159
Best For: All-purpose use (listening to podcasts, commuting, etc.)
Worst For: Battery life, staying in your ears, sound quality.
Optional Accessories: Wireless charging case – additional $40.
AirPods Pro – $249
Best For: Anything!
Worst For: Saving money.
Optional Accessories: None, comes with charging case.
AirPods Max – $549
Best For: The absolute best-sounding product that Beats or Apple makes!
Worst For: Saving money – small form factor.
Optional Accessories: None, comes with a really cool charging case.
As for Beats Headphones Models, there are many. These are simply the in-ear Beats Headphones
Beats Flex ($49)
Powerbeats – $149
Best For: Long-listening times and working out.
Worst For: Having a cord in wireless headphones.
Optional Accessories: None.
Powerbeats Pro – $249
Beats Solo Pro Wireless – $299
Beats Solo Pro Wireless
Best For: A higher quality sound for over the ears, also includes active noise cancellation.
Worst For: Not with as many bells and whistles as the new AirPods Max, but also $250 bucks cheaper.
Optional Accessories: None.
Now, let’s dive a bit deeper into our Beats vs. AirPods Review to find out what one is best for you.
AirPods vs. Beats: The Best Overall – AirPods Pro
I’m not going to lie. Apple does an incredible job with their marketing and makes every new product look amazing. But what about the Apple AirPods Pro?
The AirPods Pro are simply amazing. As we covered in our “How good are the AirPods Pro at noise canceling” post – the AirPods Pro give you 90% of the noise cancellation as the more expensive Bose 700, but are a fraction of the size. They also have an incredibly long battery life for listening to music – but is much shorter when you are using the headphones with the microphone (for calls, Zoom Calls, etc).
They also made it on our Best Gifts for the Guy Who Has Everything list, too.
The only downside is the price. They stay in your ears incredibly well and even offer a “transparency” feature if you need to hear the outside world (like in an Airport for example).
Sound Quality: 9.5/10
Noise Cancellation: 9.5/10
Battery Life: 9/10
If money is no object, get the AirPods Pro.
beats vs. airpods: The Best Value – Beats Flex
For only $50 you can get the Beats Flex. That’s an incredible deal for a pair of headphones with the W1 Chip. They get 12 hours of battery life for listening to music and the quality for the sound is not bad either.
The biggest downside is that even though these are “wireless” there is still a wire connecting the two ear pieces.
Sound Quality: 8/10
Noise Cancellation: 7/10
Battery Life: 9/10
If money is the most important factor, then get the Beats Flex.
Beats or AirPods – Best for working out
If your main goal is to use your headphones working out, running, etc – what should are the best headphones? Beats or AirPods?
This is where this Beats vs. AirPods comparison gets a little more interesting.
AirPods Pro vs. PowerBeats Pro
As you can see in the graphic above – the AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro are very similar. They cost roughly the same and have many of the same features. However, the main difference comes down to two features: noise cancellation and how much movement you’ll be doing with the headphones.
AirPods Pro vs. Powerbeats Pro: Noise Cancellation
As we mentioned in the AirPods Pro Noise Cancellation Test, the AirPods Pro are amazing at noise cancellation. The Powerbeats Pro simply have what is called “passive” noise cancellation, meaning that there is no technology behind reducing outside noise, it’s all because the headphones fill your ears.
If you are looking for something with Noise Cancellation, the AirPods Pro are your best best.
AirPods Pro vs. Powerbeats Pro: Working out
I’m not an ultramarathon runner, so I may not be the right person to comment on this. I have had zero problems wit my AirPods Pro coming out. However, I did have problems with my regular AirPods coming out, very easily. The AirPods Pro have a unique tip system that helps seal the AirPods Pro bud into your ear. This makes a huge difference.
However, the Powerbeats Pro have a huge advantage when it comes to staying on your ear: the loop. The comfortable loop keeps the ear bud on your ear, even if the ear bud falls out of your ear. After using the AirPods Pro for over a year now, the only time I can think of that I’d need the Powerbeats ear loop is if I was doing something like jumping on a trampoline.
Unless you are doing some crazy activities, I would recommend the AirPods Pro over the Powerbeats Pro for almost any purpose.
Both the AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro are water resistant to stand up to sweat. The AirPods Pro lists an IPX4 water-resistant rating, while the Powerbeats simply state they are water resistant.
Powerbeats vs. Classic AirPods
While these are similar, there are two significant areas the Powerbeats and regular AirPods are very different: the “wire” and listening time.
Powerbeats vs. Airpods: The “Wire” + Battery
While the Powerbeats look a lot like the Powerbeats Pro, there is one notable exception: the wire between the two ear pieces. This, undoubtedly, gives the Powerbeats a much longer battery life, especially for listening to music, bit it’s also a bit cumbersome.
Case in point: I typically only wear one of my AirPod Pro buds in at a time. Why? Because I like to hear my own voice naturally (without an AirPod in my ear) and it allows me to double the battery life by switching back and forth between ears. This allows one AirPod to be used and the other charged at all times.
AirPods Max vs. Beats Solo Pro
The AirPods Max was just announced with about every possible bell and whistle possible – including an incredibly unique design and charging case:
The Solo Beats Pro Wireless are the budget alternative to the AirPods Max. They both have Active Noise Cancellation and great sound quality.
I haven’t had a chance to fully test the brand new AirPod Max, but my bet is that they are going to sound slightly better and be more comfortable.
AirPods vs. Beats: The Best for listening to music
Once again, the AirPods Pro reight supreme here. I previously had a pair of the Beats Studio Headphones, they are the only Beats Headphones to have active noise cancellation and they were not nearly as good as the AirPods Pro were. Seriously.
However, the Beats Studio Headphones did have much more bass than the AirPods Pro or the AirPods. In general, you will find that the Beats Headphone are tuned to have more bass than other headphones.
beats vs. airpods: The final verdict
I’m not an audiophile, by any definition, so don’t take my advice as a snob of sound. But, overall, I feel like the AirPods Pro provide the best balance between form, function and sound.
Pro Tip: If you do buy the AirPods Pro, buy it with Applecare. That will save you if the battery starts to drain too quickly or even if you lose an AirPod… yes, seriously.
It looks like Apple is reserving the AirPods line for their top of the line (see the new AirPods Max)
Here’s where we’ve found the cheapest price on the AirPods Pro.