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AirPods vs Beats: How Headphones from Each Brand Compare

airpods vs beats

AirPods vs Beats: How Headphones from Each Brand Compare

Before AirPods existed, millions of consumers enjoyed Beats by Dre. If you’re curious how the brands compare, we have the answers in our AirPods vs. Beats breakdown. The brands have a similar range of products, despite different branding, including collections of in-ear headphones and traditional over-ear wireless headphones.

Airpods vs Beats: Side-by-Side Comparison

AirPodsBeats
CompanyAppleSubsidiary of Apple
FoundersSteve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ronald WayneDr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine
First Launched20162008
StylesIn-ear, Over-earIn-ear, Over-ear
Websitehttps://www.apple.com/airpods/https://www.beatsbydre.com/

Beats Wireless Headphones: Overview

Beats by Dre may have been the first pair of headphones from Beats to get a lot of attention, but it wasn’t long before the company rolled out new products. They included the older Beats Executive along with several generations of the original headphones.

Durable and Foldable Design
Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones
$132.49
  • Apple W1 chip and
  • Class 1 wireless Bluetooth and NFC connectivity
  • Up to 40 hours of battery life
  • Built-in microphone
  • Compatible with iOS and Android
  • Fast charging gives you 3 hours of playback with 5 minutes of charging
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03/03/2024 12:30 am GMT

Currently, they have two pairs of over-ear headphones available, the Beats Solo3 and headphones. These headphones would be hard to tell apart from a distance, but there are a few important features that set them apart.

Beats Studio headphones have ANC with a slightly different design that envelopes the ear and increases their noise-canceling capabilities. They’ll pair seamlessly with Apple devices thanks to the W1 chip, but are compatible with a wide range of other devices as well. Battery life is around 22 hours with ANC on or 40 hours with it off.

Ideal for On the Go
Beats Solo Pro Wireless Noise Cancelling On-Ear Headphones
$299.95
  • Active noise-cancelling
  • 22 hours of listening time or up to 40 hours with ANC and transparency off
  • Fast Fuel provides 3 hours of playback with just a 10-minute charge
  • Apple H1 headphone chip with Class 1 Bluetooth
  • Built-in microphone
  • Compatible with both iOS and Android
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03/03/2024 09:14 am GMT

Fast-fuel quick charging and Spatial Audio are available on the Bets Studio and Solo 3 headphones. The Beats Solo also use the W1 processor and have quick charging. These headphones don’t have ANC, so you’ll get close to 40 hours per charge. The cups are different, however, considering they rest on the ear, not over it like the Beats Solo Pro.

There are several colors to choose from with Beats Studio compared to the four colors of the Beats Solo 3 headphones. There is also a significant price difference because of ANC on the Beats Studio headphones.

Beats In-Ear Headphones: Overview

While an on or over-ear headphone typically provides the best audio experience, they aren’t exactly travel-friendly like in-ear ones. Whether you’re interested in a pair of earphones to take to the gym or to listen to podcasts on the go, Beats has something for everyone.

Top Comfort
Beats Flex Wireless Earbuds
$76.99
  • Up to 12 hours of listening time
  • All-day comfort with Flex-Form cable and four ear tip options
  • Powered by the Apple W1 headphone chip for seamless connectivity
  • Magnetic earbuds with Auto-Play/Pause
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03/03/2024 09:14 am GMT

The most affordable are the Beats Flex headphones. They provide around 12 hours of playback. And while they are wireless, the magnetic earbuds are joined by a cord. It’s an entry-level product compared to the Beast Fit Pro earbuds, which are a step up in terms of performance.

Stylish and High Performance
Beats Fit Pro x Kim Kardashian True Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds
$323.88
  • Elevate any activity — or outfit — with Kim Kardashian’s Beats Fit Pro collection, available in three neutral shades with a flexible wingtip for a seamless fit
  • Flexible, secure-fit wingtips for all-day comfort and stability
  • Custom acoustic platform delivers powerful, balanced sound
  • Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking for immersive music, movies, and games
  • Three distinct listening modes: Active Noise Cancelling, Transparency Mode, and Adaptive EQ
  • Apple H1 Headphone Chip
  • Compatible with Apple & Android
  • Class 1 Bluetooth®
  • Dune color
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03/03/2024 12:39 pm GMT

Beast Studio Buds have active noise cancellation and offer 8 hours of power. The charging case brings the total battery life to 24 hours. They don’t have the same array of features as the Beast Fit Pro, which come in slightly different colors, including a collection called Beats Fit Pro x Kim Kardashian.    

Best Workout
Beats Studio Buds – Black
$99.95
  • Battery life: 8 hours (24 hours with charging case)
  • Transparency and Active Noise Cancelling listening modes available
  • Find your fit with 3 sizes of ear tips
  • Bluetooth connectivity (class 1)
  • IPX4 water and sweat resistant
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03/02/2024 10:10 pm GMT

As the name suggests, Beast Fit Pro are different from the company’s other earbuds. That’s due in part to the design, which features a flexible tip to help keep the earbuds in place. Beats Fit Pro headphones are priced at a premium, although they measure up well against the Studio Buds in our comparison.

The other Pro earbuds from Beats have a completely different design than the rest. Power Beats Pro earbuds are also wireless and come with ear “hooks” which make them ideal for outdoors and exercising. They are less likely to slip off during activities. While they have many of the same features as other models, the Power Beats Pro have an older H1 chip.

Apple’s AirPods Collection: Overview

Apple doesn’t have quite as many headphones as Beats, but they don’t have to, considering they own the brand. Their earbuds have comparable performance, but with a completely different style; one that’s in line with the company’s branding.

There have been three generations of the AirPods so far, although Apple currently only carries the 2nd and 3rd gen models on their official website. While you’ll have trouble finding the original AirPods in stock, the company’s classic EarPods are the cheapest style of in-ear headphones from Apple.

Best Cheap Wired Option
Apple EarPods with Lightning Connector
$15.99
  • Answer calls, play music on the go
  • Impressive, high-quality audio
  • Stylish, and more comfortable than traditional earbuds
  • Work with iPads and iPhones
  • Built-in remote to adjust the volume
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03/03/2024 06:24 am GMT

Apple EarPods are wired headphones that work through a lightning connector. They’re an affordable alternative to AirPods and even have a remote on the cord for track or call control. Consumers looking for something a little more high-tech will want to consider the AirPods generation 2 earbuds, however.

The 2supnd/sup generation AirPods provide access to Siri and use the company’s H1 headphone chip. Battery life is solid, but better on the newer AirPods.

Best New Generation
Apple AirPods (3rd Generation)
$149.00
  • Personalized Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking
  • Single fit
  • Force sensor
  • Sweat-and water-resistant
  • Lightning Charging Case or MagSafe Charging Case
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03/02/2024 07:44 am GMT

The AirPods 3suprd/sup generation earbuds have battery life on the earbuds and with the case. They also have spatial audio, along with an Adaptive EQ, but you’ll need to move to the Pro series for ANC.

AirPods Pro

Customizable to Your Ears
Apple AirPods Pro - 1st Generation (Renewed)
$149.95
  • Active noise cancellation for immersive sound
  • Transparency mode for hearing and connecting with the world around you
  • Three sizes of soft, tapered silicone tips for a customizable fit
  • Sweat- and water-resistant
  • Adaptive EQ automatically tunes the music
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03/02/2024 06:46 am GMT

Apple introduced the first version of the AirPods Pro in 2019 as an upgraded version of AirPods. They have the same basic controls and features as the 3rd gen AirPods, including Siri support and the H1 processor.

Active noise cancellation and Qi wireless charging were the big additions, along with MagSafe. While still available through online retailers, the company recently introduced the 2nd generation AirPods Pro.

Best for iPhones
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
$224.00
  • Apple-designed H2 chip
  • Low-distortion, custom-built driver
  • Up to 2x more Active Noise Cancellation than the previous AirPods Pro
  • Personalized spatial audio
  • Up to 6 hours of battery life or 30 hours with the charging case
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03/02/2024 10:09 pm GMT

The new AirPods Pro may look like the previous version. However, the ANC has improved and so has the H2 chip that powers the headphones. Other advantages of these earbuds include the Apple UI chip, increased battery life, and better ear tips.

AirPods Max

All of Apple’s wireless earbuds sound great with a wide variety of music, but pale in comparison to their only set of over-ear headphones: the AirPods Max.

Best for Apple Users/ Over-Ear
Apple AirPods Max (Space Gray)
$479.99
  • Apple-designed dynamic driver for high-fidelity audio
  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Transparency mode
  • Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking
  • Designed with a knit-mesh canopy and memory foam ear cushions
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03/03/2024 05:44 pm GMT

Don’t let the name fool you as these are full-sized headphones. Each cup contains the H1 chip and ANC is top-notch thanks to the technology and design.

The Apple AirPods Max headphones have spatial audio and around 20 hours of battery life per charge. Fans of the Apple Watch will also appreciate the digital crown for volume control on these high-end headphones.  

Airpods vs Beats: What’s the Difference?

Beats and Apple have been joined at the hip since 2014 when Apple acquired the brand. Despite the takeover, the company’s headphone lineups have distinct differences in design, audio quality, and pricing.

Design

From a design standpoint, Beats and Apple AirPods are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Both earbuds have a modern design, but you’ll recognize Apple’s AirPods instantly. They look like wired earbuds without the cord, compared to the more streamlined design of the Beats Studio Buds.  

Best for Fitness
Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earbuds
$179.95
  • Listening time: 9hrs (earbuds), 24hrs (case)
  • Features adjustable earhooks for a secure fit no matter what you're doing
  • Earbuds are sweat resistant
  • Supports auto pause/play
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03/03/2024 04:03 pm GMT

You also get more colors to choose from across Beats’ range of earbuds and more ways to wear them. Comfort varies on all in-ear models, but the wings on Beats Fit Pro and Powerbeats Pro’s design is ideal for the gym and outdoors. They won’t slip out of your ear as easily as AirPods, EarPods, or the AirPods Pro earbuds.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so the draw of the design comes down to personal taste to a degree. With that in mind, we feel that Beats offers a wider variety of options across the board, including several custom and designer headphones.

Audio Quality

The audio quality of these headphones depends on the generation and models you want to compare. New AirPods pro will sound better than Beats Flex headphones, but have a different profile than what you’ll find on the Beats Studio Buds.

Neither brand has anything on par with Sennheiser or Bose, which are in a different price tier. Beats headphones stay true to their name. That means you can expect more bass on their headphones compared to the AirPods lineup, which has a more neutral profile.

The ability to adjust the EQ with the AirPods Pro is an advantage that evens things out. Apple’s earbuds have better ANC as well, so it’s a toss-up depending on what you need from a new set of headphones.

Things are more interesting when you begin to compare the Beats Solo Pro vs. AirPods Max. This is another area where personal preference and musical tastes are key, but an area where Apple seemingly holds an edge.

Pricing

If you’re on the fence about which brand you prefer, pricing could make things easy. Apple has always been known to put a premium price tag on its products, and its AirPods lineup is certainly no exception.

The most affordable pair of earbuds from Apple, the AirPods Gen 2, usually costs $20-40 more than the Beats Studio Buds. The Beats Fit Pro headphones are priced against the 3rd gen AirPods, but are significantly cheaper than the AirPods Pro.

This trend continues with the over- and on-ear headphones from both brands. Beat’s most expensive model, the Beats Studio 3, is less than half the price of the Apple AirPods Max wireless headphones.

AirPods vs Beats: 4 Must-Know Facts

  1. In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone Bluetooth Headset without music capabilities.
  2. The Beats Pill and Pill+ were portable Bluetooth speakers.
  3. AirPods Max are Apple’s first over-ear headphones.
  4. Beats Music subscribers were moved to Apple Music in 2015.

AirPods vs Beats: Which One Is Better?

When you understand what both companies offer, choosing between AirPods vs. Beats becomes a little simpler. While Apple is technically in charge of both product lines, Beats are more affordable, come with better bass, and have a similar range of features. The AirPods line is geared towards Apple enthusiasts that have iPhones and Apple Watches, which share a similar design language.

Both provide respectable sound quality for their price, although we feel the AirPods Max are a step behind headphones like the Sony MX5 in some key areas. Regardless of which brand you choose, consider an extended warranty as both companies only provide a 1-year guarantee.

Last update on 2024-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you replace broken Beats headphones?

With AppleCare+ that’s an option, but the warranty may vary depending on the retailer, plan, or extent of the damage.

Can you replace the ear pads on Beats Solo headphones?

Yes, you can replace the ear pads on the Solo headphones with fresh ones as needed.

Are AirPods Pro waterproof?

They are sweat- and water-resistant with an IPX4 rating, but not waterproof.

Do first-generation AirPods still work?

Yes, although you won’t have some of the newer features found on the 2nd and 3rd generation or the AirPods Pro.

Are AirPods 2 coming out?

While Apple didn’t deliver a new model in 2022, many expect the company to launch AirPods Max 2 headphones in 2023.

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