It’s evident that the Beats Powerbeats are a major upgrade to the company’s wireless exercise earbuds. They have an IPX4 rating, a superior sound quality, and Apple’s H1 Wireless chip that can summon Siri using the sound of your voice.
They are supposed to last for 15 hours, six hours longer than the Powerbeats Pro and three hours longer than the Powerbeats3. They can also be paired with multiple devices and shared songs wirelessly by another pair of Beats headphones.
Although they aren’t as comfortable as Apple’s higher-end alternatives, the Beats Powerbeats Pro or Apple AirPods Pro in terms of how they fit in your ears, they still have enough technology and specs to be a decent, cheap option.
Release date and price
The Beats Powerbeats 4* (it is technically the fourth Powerbeats headphone, but it is simply called ‘Powerbeats’). It costs $149.99 (PS129.95 / AU$219.95), which is $50 less than Powerbeats 3, and $100 less that the similar-sounding Powerbeats Pro.
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They are, however, the same price as the base Apple AirPods in most areas. The Powerbeats offer sweat resistance and interchangeable tips. However, they also have a wire between the buds which you won’t find with the Apple AirPods. These details are important to distinguish between the two headphones, but they also mean that you have to choose between two solid wireless headphones.
(Image credit: Future)
The new Powerbeats models will appeal to those who love the classic Powerbeats design. The Powerbeats Pro has smaller ear nozzles than the Powerbeats Pro, but the stems are the same as the previous models.
The box also contains a Lightning to USB Cable and a soft carrying case. Instructions for using the earbuds are provided. However, setup is simple. Simply hold them close to an iOS device or pair them with an Android device via the power button.
The drivers for the earbuds are located inside the large housing. Behind each of them on either side are the controls for headphones. The power button and Bluetooth pairing button are located on the left housing. On the right housing, you will find the volume rocker as well as Beats buttons that control play/pause and your virtual assistant.
It’s important to try all of the eartips in the box (small to medium to large, large to double flange) until you find the best fit. We’ve mentioned before that the fit of your earbuds is crucial. It determines how passive noise reduction is achieved, as well as how loud the outside world can be heard. These headphones are a little more difficult than the other in-ear headphones that we have tested, but we expect to find something that works in the coming week.
A beam-forming microphone is located on each earbud and can be used to summon Siri. It can also read aloud texts, answer questions, and make phone calls. It felt at first like Siri wasn’t working, as the Powerbeats didn’t make the chime sound automatically. But rest assured that Siri will respond to your questions if you use ‘Hey Siri’ and hold down the right Beats button.
The big downside to Powerbeats is that they are not true Wireless Earbuds. There’s a wire running from one rubber stem to another connecting them. This can make it difficult to find the right fit. Apple claims it has done all it can to make the wire more comfortable (reducing its chaffe by making it less coarse, for instance), but nothing can beat true wireless headphones. There is a counterpoint. It’s impossible for two earbuds to be lost if they are connected, and sharing the power will give you twice the battery life, which could be an advantage over the AirPods.
(Image credit: Future)
The Powerbeats are a good choice for sound quality. They have a wide soundstage and excellent clarity across the audio spectrum. These earbuds are comparable to what we have heard from other earbuds at this price, but there are better-sounding options if you are an audiophile.
They sound very similar to the Powerbeats Pro, one of our daily driver earbuds. The Powerbeats Pro has a gentle V-shape tone that amplifies the highs and lowers while allowing for a slight recess in the mids. Music sounds so dynamic and energetic that it’s almost impossible to watch movies or TV shows. We really like the well-balanced headphones.
The Powerbeats were designed to let some noise through, and not block it. This is the main difference between the AirPods Pro and the Powerbeats. It can be either a pro- or con-depending on how loud you like the metal-on-metal crashing and grunting sounds from your local gym. We can’t say that we love the lack of noise cancellation. However, we do appreciate the fact that the headphones offer some active noise reduction.
We do support the tight fitting and IPX4 sweat-resistant design. This means that you can take them to the gym comfortably without worrying about them getting ripped or damaged by intense training. This is a requirement for headphones that are used in workouts, but there are many manufacturers who ignore it.
You won’t find either aptX or HD codec support on-board. However, both Apple iOS devices and Android phones will have AAC and SBC. The latter is useful if you need to enhance the sound quality of your music.
The headphones can last for 15 hours on a single charge, and can be recharged back in just five minutes. This gives you more than an hour of battery time. It is as simple as connecting the Lightning Cable and the Lightning port on your right bud to recharge them.
Unfortunately, the auto-off function can take a while to activate and can drain your battery. Powerbeats don’t automatically pause music when you take them off, which is something that other high-end earbuds are capable of doing.
The Powerbeats are essential upgrades Beats needs to make its sports-focused earbuds. They last longer than the predecessors and they sound better. They’re great for gym companions, thanks to their IPX4 rating, snug fit, and hands-free Siri.
We don’t like the fact that they can be difficult to fit and may become uncomfortable if worn for a long time. They are not wire-free like the Powerbeats Pro and AirPods Pro. Additionally, they lack active noise cancellation or noise reduction technology. This means that you won’t be able to take them along on long flights and on busy commutes.
Although they aren’t the best Bluetooth earbuds, the Powerbeats are a promising alternative to similar-priced wireless headphones and far better than their predecessors that were launched eight years ago.