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Beats Fit Pro review: Better than AirPods Pro

Thursday November 11, 2021. 12:30 PM , from Macworld Reviews
Beats Fit Pro review: Better than AirPods Pro
At a glanceExpert’s Rating
ProsFantastic fitGood battery lifeUSB-C chargingGood noise cancelling and transparencyConsMediocre call qualityNo wireless chargingOur VerdictThe Beats Fit Pro give you all the benefits of AirPods Pro with better fit, sound quality, and battery life. The call quality is slightly worse and there’s no wireless charging, but the comfort and fit alone are worth the tradeoff.

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Apple just started selling a new AirPods Pro model that is cheaper, sounds a little better, fits a lot better, and even has physical buttons and comes in several colors. They even cost less!

Only Apple did all this under its other headphone brand, Beats, with the new Fit Pro. While these don’t have everything the AirPod Pro do (wireless charging is absent), they are better in most ways and for most people.

Simply put, if you think you might want to buy AirPods Pro, you should buy these instead. In fact, those considering the 3rd-gen AirPods might even want to spend a little more for these.

Anything you can do…

Apple purchased Beats back in 2014, and within a few years it was making Beats headphones that use its own W1 and later H1 headphone chips, allowing them to work just like AirPods.

The Beats Fit Pro are the latest in that line. They mimic the features of the AirPods Pro–instant pairing and quick switching to other Apple products, hands-free “Hey Siri,” Find My integration, active noise cancellation with an excellent Transparency mode, and Spatial Audio with head tracking.

Beats Fit Pro are more comfortable and stay in your ears better than AirPods Pro. And come in several colors.IDG / Jason Cross

If you use an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, these essentially are AirPods Pro, from a features perspective. If the AirPods Pro do it, so do the Beats Fit Pro. They’re IPX4 water and sweat resistant like the AirPods Pro, so good enough for rain and splashes but not meant to be submerged.

There’s one notable exception, and that’s wireless charging. The AirPods Pro’s charging case has it (along with MagSafe), but the Beats Fit Pro do not. That’s it; that’s the only thing missing. And it’s not a deal-breaker in the slightest

…I can do better

It’s all the ways the Fit Pro are better than the AirPods Pro that make them interesting, though.

For starters, they simply fit a lot better. The shape better conforms to one’s ear, and like the AirPods Pro they come with three sizes of rubber eartips to create a seal in your ear canal. Instead of stems, the Fit Pro have integrated wingtips that go up and under one of your ear’s folds.

Wingtips are nothing new in the sports earbuds market, and it’s a bold move of Beats to make theirs one-size-fits-all and unable to be removed. But it works, it really works. They fit very well in the ears of several different people I asked to try them, and they’re more comfortable to wear for a long time than any earbuds with wingtips I’ve ever tried.

These little non-removable wingtips really work, and are surprisingly comfortable.IDG / Jason Cross

It’s a huge step up from the earhooks of previous Beats products, too. Those were effective, but harder to wear with glasses and grew uncomfortable with extended use.

The Beats Fit Pro may be the most comfortable in-ear buds I’ve ever used. They sit right, create a pretty good seal, and don’t feel like they’re coming loose, even with lots of activity. They also don’t make my ears sore.

While AirPods only come in white, the Fit Pro come in white, black, sage grey, and stone purple (a very lavender tone).

The AirPods Pro use a Lightning plug to charge, the Fit Pro use USB-C. While I prefer that, one could see how someone with only an iPhone would find value in the Lightning connector…we’ll call it a tie. The Fit Pro’s charging case doesn’t feel quite as solid as the AirPods Pro’s, and isn’t as compact, but it’s still a lot smaller than the massive Powerbeats Pro case and easy to pocket.

Some will be thankful for the USB-C charging port, others may prefer Lightning.IDG / Jason Cross

Speaking of charging, you’ll have to do it less often with the Beats earbuds. They last for over seven hours without noise cancelling enabled, and six with it turned on. That’s quite a bit more than the four and a half hours Apple claims for AirPods Pro with ANC enabled. The case holds about four more full charges, and about five minutes of charging gives you around an hour of listening time. A full charge took me about an hour and a half. That’s a lot of listening for very little

While AirPods Pro sound very good, they’re not the best premium wireless earbuds I’ve heard. The Beats Fit Pro sound a little bit better–with plenty of oomph where its warranted and slightly improved clarity. The one exception is with the voice quality making calls or video conferencing. The Fit Pro use multiple beamforming mics just like the AirPods Pro, and voice quality is good (with impressive wind noise attenuation), but just a bit worse than AirPods Pro.

The buds on the left are better and cheaper than the buds on the right…and made by the same company.IDG / Jason Cross

Noise-cancelling quality is roughly on par with that of the AirPods Pro, which is to say that’s it’s good and supremely useful, but not the best you can find in any wireless earbuds. Transparency mode is open and natural sounding, as it is on AirPods Pro–Apple’s products lead the market with this feature.

Should you buy Beats Fit Pro?

If you’re keeping score it’s: AirPods Pro 1, Beats Fit Pro 5. AirPods Pro have wireless charging, but Beats Fit Pro fit better, sound better, last longer on a single charge, cost $50 less, and come in several colors. Oh, and the awkward “pinch the stem” controls are replaced by real physical buttons that are easier to use…so that’s six in the win column for Beats.

The benefits of the AirPods Pro (wireless charging, a slightly more compact and sturdy case, slightly better voice quality) don’t make up for the several ways the Beats Fit Pro are better, and are definitely not enough to justify the price premium.

Most people who want AirPods Pro will probably like these more, even if they weren’t cheaper. In fact, with the 3rd-gen AirPods priced at $179, we think you should definitely splurge and pay $20 more for these–you’ll get much better fit, sound, active noise cancelling, and you don’t have to get them in white.

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