Which Apple wireless earbuds are the ones to get?

Two competitors enter the ring. Only one can leave. And the same company benefits either way.

With the third-generation AirPods launching in late October and the new Beats Fit Pro earbuds in early November, Apple is double dipping in the wireless earbuds game. Both of these Apple-made earbuds have pros and cons, but at the end of the day, only one deserves your dollars.

Will it be Apple’s flagship earbuds brand or its flashier cousin?


They cost less, but just barely.

They cost less, but just barely.
Credit: molly flores / mashable

The first category we’ll look at is the most objective and easiest to evaluate: Price.

The new AirPods retail for $179 and the Beats Fit Pro go for $199. That $20 difference isn’t massive, but as you’ll see, it accounts for quite a gap in features and performance between the two.

But that’s not enough to grant victory to the Beats Fit Pro in this category by itself.

So congratulations, AirPods.

Winner: AirPods

Features and battery life

USB-C is the way to go.

USB-C is the way to go.
Credit: molly flores / mashable

Paying $20 less for those AirPods sounds great on paper, but things break down a bit when you compare what these two pairs of earbuds can actually do.

For the most part, the AirPods and Beats have access to many of the same bells and whistles …as long as you have an iPhone. (We’ll get to the Android limitations later.) They both pair with iPhones seamlessly and can utilize spatial audio with head tracking, audio sharing, automatic switching between devices, adaptive EQ audio tuning, and Find My support. That’s the standard suite of features you’ll also find in the AirPods Pro and Max.

SEE ALSO: Best headphones for iPhone owners: Think outside the (AirPods) box

The only real advantage the AirPods have in this department is a charging case that supports wireless charging via Qi or MagSafe. The Beats Fit Pro’s case can only be charged via USB-C, which is preferable to the Lightning port on the AirPods case, but still overall your options are more limited with Beats.

In terms of things that really matter, the Beats Fit Pro have excellent active noise cancelation in addition to silicone ear tips that provide a physical seal to keep some noise out, even when ANC is turned off. Not everyone wants noise cancelation, but it can always be disabled and is a killer option to have when you need to get some work done with no distractions.

The AirPods, on the other hand, have no means of keeping noise out whatsoever. It makes for a lesser listening experience.

Both the AirPods and Beats Fit Pro have excellent battery life, coming in at about six hours of listening time on a full charge. However, the Beats can deliver six hours with ANC turned on, while the AirPods obviously don’t offer that at all.

The only reasonable conclusion here is that the Beats Fit Pro win this category.

Winner: Beats Fit Pro


With Beats Fit Pro, you can swap out the ear tips to find your best fit.

With Beats Fit Pro, you can swap out the ear tips to find your best fit.
Credit: molly flores / mashable

The third-gen AirPods aren’t uncomfortable by any means, but they lack any kind of customization in this regard. They have an open plastic speaker grill that you shove into your ear canal, with no way to adjust the size or anything like that. If they aren’t comfortable for you, you’re out of luck.

And because they lack a wingtip or any other stabilizing feature, it’s possible for them to occasionally feel like they’re going to fall out. That last point isn’t as much of a sticking point as it was with previous AirPods models, but it’s still there.

The Beats Fit Pro, on the other hand, are easy to wear for as many as six hours at a time without even really noticing it. They come with a small, curved wingtip that pleasantly rests inside the ear to provide stabilization. And you also get three sizes of silicone ear tips that should accommodate most ear sizes.

By merely offering any options at all, the Beats Fit Pro win this one.

Winner: Beats Fit Pro

Sound quality

Those little speakers do their best, but they can't keep outside noise from bleeding in.

Those little speakers do their best, but they can’t keep outside noise from bleeding in.
Credit: molly flores / mashable

When it comes to pure audio output, both the new AirPods and Beats Fit Pro are in the upper echelon for wireless earbuds that cost $200 or less. If nothing else, Apple understands how to pack quality speakers into tiny bodies.

Both earbuds bring out the richness of any audio mix, exposing both high and low elements so the listener can zero in on even the subtlest instrument in a song. Nothing gets flattened or washed out. However, the Beats Fit Pro have something the AirPods don’t: Kickin’ bass.

The bass output in the new AirPods is mediocre. It’s there, for sure, but it’s never as satisfying as you want it to be and doesn’t stand out in any way. That is not the case with Beats Fit Pro, which can feel like you’ve attached a subwoofer to your ears.

Not to beat a dead horse too much, but noise cancelation factors heavily into the sound quality judgment, too. AirPods often sound great, but you might not even hear them if you’re in a noisy enough environment.

As such, Beats have to be the winner here.

Winner: Beats Fit Pro

Android functionality

This Beats ear fit test is present in both iOS and Android.

This Beats ear fit test is present in both iOS and Android.
Credit: molly flores / mashable

Since these are both Apple products, the only way to get the full experience is by pairing them with an iPhone. Remember all of those features like spatial audio with head tracking, audio sharing, and Find My support we talked about earlier? Those are missing on Android. That said, one of these pairs of earbuds is more accommodating to our Android brethren than the other.

There’s a Beats Android app on the Play Store that you can use for first-time setup and device management with the Beats Fit Pro. Firmware updates, ANC controls, an ear fit test, touch control customization, and other basic features can be played with in this app even if you don’t have an iPhone. You may not get the intended Beats Fit Pro experience on Android, but all the bare necessities are present and accounted for.

That’s not necessarily the case with the new AirPods. You can connect them to an Android phone via Bluetooth, but at that point, they just work like any other Bluetooth headphones. Pair them with a Pixel 6 and the only option you’ll see in the Bluetooth settings is to toggle HD audio (via Apple’s proprietary AAC audio codec). That’s it.

While it’s a little unfair to knock Apple’s flagship earbuds for working best on Apple’s flagship phones, the Beats Fit Pro at least have an official app with some tools to play with for Android users.

Winner: Beats Fit Pro

The Verdict

This is just a formality at this point.

While the new AirPods marginally beat the Beats Fit Pro on price, they don’t win anywhere else. Both earbuds have above-average sound quality, but the Beats Fit Pro’s offering is among the best in its price range. AirPods sound largely great, too, but they don’t really come close thanks to a lack of bass and noise cancelation.

Speaking of which, the inclusion of very effective noise cancelation is enough to elevate the Beats Fit Pro above AirPods in terms of features. Yes, AirPods offer wireless charging and the Beats buds don’t, but being able to actually hear music is more important than that. Combine all of that with superior comfort and Android features, and it’s clear that the Beats Fit Pro leave the new AirPods in the dust.

Just remember, Apple wins either way.

Winner: Beats Fit Pro

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