Apple AirPods Pro vs Beats Fit Pro: Which are the iPhone's best buds?
We put Apple's two best earbuds models through our paces.
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The Beats Fit Pro are arguably the most exciting pair from Apple's other headphones brand yet. The latest from Beats present a ton of value for the price, not least of all because they so handily emulate the Apple AirPods Pro, generally regarded as the best earbuds for pairing with an iPhone.
You might know where this is going: After careful evaluation, we’re impressed enough with the Beats Fit Pro that we don’t just think these true wireless buds successfully emulate the AirPods Pro—for many folks they might just be the superior choice. So what else could we do but put these two mighty true wireless options head-to-head to see which is best? Let’s find out.
Price tends to be the easiest comparison to make, and while that’s still generally true here, there are a few considerations to take into account. The AirPods Pro originally launched in 2019 at an MSRP of $249, and have since had a slight refresh that adds MagSafe charging for the case. Even so, you can often find them on sale below the $200 mark.
The Beats Fit Pro launched on November 1st, 2021 at an MSRP of $199. They’re certainly the cheaper of the two from an MSRP perspective, but it’s also unlikely we’ll see similar price drops for the Fit Pro for a while considering how much newer they are. As such, we'll reluctantly call this one a tie.
Our pick: Draw
Fit and design
The AirPods Pro went a long way to fixing some of the issues we raised with the original AirPods, not least of which was to drastically improve the general level of comfort thanks to their magnetic ear tips. (Not everyone agrees with this sentiment, but we suppose that's why Apple kept the plastic ear-shell design for the AirPods 3).
The AirPods Pro still offer a “semi-open fit” which means that despite replacing the plastic shell of the original AirPods with an ear-tipped that fits comfortably and snugly into most ear canals, they fit a bit loosely in the outer ear.
Some folks love this design—and swear by it—but for others, the AirPods Pro may feel like they could jump ship unexpectedly, especially during a workout or any kind of vigorous activity.
The Beats Fit Pro take a different approach: They’re not just fitted with traditional ear tips, they also have a stabilizing wing that fits snugly into the outer ear. This is in place of the clunkier (but very stable) ear hooks that defined previous Beats buds like the Powerbeats and Powerbeats Pro.
The wing design isn’t a new thing for true wireless earbuds, but if most of your experience revolves around AirPods, it’s a notable change in fit and feel to be sure.
In terms of waterproofing, the AirPods Pro and Beats Fit Pro are essentially identical: both offer an IPX4 Ingress Protection rating, which translates to “water splashes over 5-10 minutes have no harmful effect.” That means you can sweat things out with either pair of buds, but probably shouldn’t rinse them off in the sink afterward.
Finally, what about weight? The AirPods Pro check in at 5.4 grams per bud, while the Beats Fit Pro are just a smidge heavier at 5.6 grams per bud. However, there’s a larger difference in case size and case weight: the AirPods Pro case is smaller and a little lighter at 45.6 grams, compared to the Fit Pro’s 54.5 grams.
Unless you’re just really into the iconic (and admittedly useful) stem on the AirPods Pro, the Beats Fit Pro offer a more stable and potentially more comfortable fit while offering similar weight and the same waterproofing. Their stabilizing wing makes them especially snug for workouts when compared to the AirPods Pro.
Finally, while it's not a huge bonus, the Beats Fit Pro are also available in a wider range of colors: Black, White, Sage Gray, and Stone Purple (the version pictured). As always, the AirPods are only available in White.
Our pick: Beats Fit Pro
Features and controls
One thing that makes the Beats Fit Pro really stand out as major competition is that they essentially match the Apple AirPods Pro feature for feature. This isn’t just well-molded software: Apple’s H1 chip is what helps give the AirPods Pro their iPhone ecosystem hutzpah, and the Fit Pro have it too (Apple owns Beats, after all).
This makes for almost complete parity across both headphones’ feature lists. Not only do both pairs offer top features like Adaptive ANC, Transparency Mode, and Auto Play/Pause, but both also sport all the iPhone extras like iCloud/Audio Sharing, Spatial Audio, Hands-free “Hey Siri,” and every other feature folks love about the AirPods experience.
As a bonus, the Beats Fit Pro are also a better choice for Android users, thanks to the official Beats app. While not as simple as the direct iOS integration you get on an iPhone, it's still a clean, intuitive way to adjust all of the Fit Pro’s features on an Android phone. There’s no official app, as such, for AirPods Pro.
As for controls, there’s no denying the appeal of the AirPods Pro’s Force Sensor, where actions like play/pause, answering calls, or scrubbing tracks are handled by pressing/squeezing the iconic white stems. With the Beats Pro, you’re getting essentially the same control scheme, with the only real difference being that you’re pressing on the lowercase-b “Beats” logo rather than a stem.
There is one feature the AirPods Pro deliver that is entirely missing from the Beats: wireless charging for the case. You can set your AirPods Pro case (with or without the buds in it) on any Qi charging pad to juice it up, and as we noted above, the updated AirPods Pro even add MagSafe charging with Apple charging pads, which is quite convenient. For whatever reason, the Beats Fit Pro completely lack the (rather common) ability to charge wirelessly.
While we can’t deny the physical utility of the AirPods Pro’s stems in terms of placing them in your ears, the basics of the controls are otherwise identical. And where features go, you lose nothing by way of the Beats Fit Pro besides Qi charging, and Android users gain plenty. This one is, again, too close to call.
Our pick: Tie
Battery life is a very important aspect of true wireless buds. Since there’s no way to replace the batteries, which will naturally lose longevity over the years, you want as much as possible from the get-go.
The Beats Fit Pro are quite a bit newer than the AirPods Pro, and the battery life reflects that. Apple’s top-end buds average around 4.5 hours on a single charge and about 24 hours total with the charging case, while the Beats Fit Pro net you 6 hours (with ANC engaged) and around 27 hours total with the charging case. Testing also confirmed that you can get closer to 7 hours with ANC off.
While this is perhaps the most unfair comparison due to differences in age, the winner here is clear.
Our pick: Beats Fit Pro
Calling and sound performance
Last but certainly not least, calling and sound performance are also hugely important factors. Folks love using the AirPods Pro for calls, so we did extensive head-to-head comparisons between them and the Beats Fit Pro to find out how they compared in basic call quality and in windy conditions.
This is one area where the AirPods Pro are still the champ—even on an Android phone. Testing revealed just a smidge more vocal clarity for the AirPods Pro, and better vocal isolation when the speaker was inundated by heavy winds.
On the other hand, the Beats Fit Pro have the edge where sound quality goes, particularly for music. It may simply be due to their firmer fit (thanks again, stabilizing wings), but the Beats—far from the massively bassy sound they’re infamous for—present a robust, balanced sound that, to our ears anyway, is just a hair more satisfying across musical genres compared to the AirPods Pro.
The truth is, both calling and sound quality are very close between these two. We doubt most folks will hear much difference in either instance.
Our pick: Tie
And the winner is…
A quick scan of each section here paints a clear winner: the Beats Fit Pro. While they may appear to simply be a Beats version of the Apple AirPods Pro at first glance, they outpace them in some key ways, and if you plan on switching phones down the line, they’re nearly as valuable paired with an Android phone as they are with an iPhone.
That said, you’d be forgiven for still grabbing the AirPods Pro: These buds are iconic, and we all see them everywhere. More importantly, they're deserving of the praise they get, and especially if you can find them on sale, they’re an excellent choice for iPhone users of all stripes.
But in most of the ways that matter, the Beats Fit Pro are the better buy. They do everything the AirPods Pro do for less money, and they do a fair few things better. At least until we get a new generation of AirPods Pro, the Beats Fit Pro are your best choice.