Though Apple bought Beats back in 2014 primarily for its music subscription service, there have been no signs that the company intends to ditch the popular headphone brand. Even after launching AirPods, its own supremely popular Apple-branded earbuds, there have been several brand new Beats headphone and earbud models released.
In 2021, Apple showed no signs of slowing down with both Beats Studio Buds and Beats Fit Pro launching this fall. The latter is positioned to take on AirPods Pro in a battle to take the title of best true wireless earbuds. And for some users, they'll win that battle.
Beats Fit Pro
Bottom line: Beats Fit Pro offer a super secure fit and standout sound quality to help power you through your workouts. With ANC and the smarts of Apple's H1 chip, you're not losing a lot by opting for Beats over AirPods Pro, though there are a couple of drawbacks.
- Super sound quality
- Secure fit
- Sweat resistance
- Active noise cancellation and transparency modes
- Support for spatial audio and dynamic head tracking
- Apple H1 chip + Hey Siri
- Choice of colors
- Uncomfortable for long listening periods
- Plasticky case
- No wireless charging
Beats Fit Pro: Price and availability
Beats Fit Pro launched in the U.S. in November 2021 at the top end of the Beats collection of earbuds. Retailing for $200, they cost $50 more than the recently released Beats Studio Buds but have several additional features that warrant the jump in price, which we'll explore in detail below. At that price, they come in at $50 less than the AirPods Pro, making for a tough choice between the two.
Beats Fit Pro are currently only available in the U.S. and are sold through all of the major retailers you'd expect, including Apple. China is set to be the next launch location in December 2021, with other regions slated to get the Fit Pro in 2022.
Beats Fit Pro: What's good
Coming into a crowded marketplace, Beats Fit Pro need to have a unique selling point in order to stand out. True wireless earbuds are everywhere now and available for as little as $30, with products from Apple, Bose, Sony, Samsung, Google, and many more all jostling for position.
For the Beats Fit Pro, the target market seems to be those looking for a set of earbuds for exercise that will stay put even during the most vigorous of workouts, though they don't sacrifice sound quality to get there.
Putting the fit in Beats Fit Pro
The design of the Beats Fit Pro is similar to that of the Beats Studio Buds that came shortly before, though the main difference is the addition of flexible wingtips that help hold them in place. Coupled with the in-ear design, it does that job admirably. The instructions for the Beats Fit Pro suggest you place the earbud in your ear and then twist forward gently to hook the wingtip into your upper ear. It's a bit of an unusual gesture, but the earbuds fit very well when you put them in place like this, though they aren't the most comfortable to use for an extended period. Since these are workout buds, I took them for a spin on a long run and never once felt like they had come loose or were at risk of falling out.
Each wingtip flows seamlessly into a button on the side of each earbud. These aren't touch surfaces like some other options out there but actual clickable buttons. These are super easy to operate while wearing the earbuds and preferable to sometimes finicky touchpads, especially for a workout-focused earbud. With the buttons, you can control media playback, take calls, and switch between noise cancellation and transparency modes. You can also customize what the press-and-hold gesture does for each earbud if you prefer to have easy volume adjustment or the ability to invoke Siri with a long-press.
Another boon for exercisers is the IPX4 water-resistance rating of the Beats Fit Pro. Though not truly waterproof, that rating makes them resistant to sweat and getting caught in the rain. I haven't dunked my Beats Fit Pro to test out their ruggedness, but I have worked out in them, getting all kinds of sweaty, and they have survived thus far.
Audio quality and battery life
I mentioned that the fitness focus hasn't been to the detriment of the audio experience earlier, but I can't emphasize this point enough. I'm not an audiophile by any means, but the Beats Fit Pro sound excellent to my ear, so much so that, in switching between them and my AirPods 2, I have found myself wondering how I ever listened to such flat music before.
Apple says that the Beats Fit Pro use a "proprietary, dual-element diaphragm driver" inside a "two-chamber housing, resulting in clear sound with outstanding stereo separation" with an "advanced digital processor then optimizes audio performance for loudness and clarity." While that might sound like mumbo-jumbo, the results are stellar in the Beats fit Pro. The sound is deep and clear, with excellent separation between different instruments and vocals.
Beats Fit Pro sound deep and clear, with immersive ANC and spatial audio support.
Of course, the Beats Fit Pro also feature active noise cancellation to really immerse yourself in the music. I haven't used AirPods Pro, so I can't make a direct comparison, though I can confirm (once you have the right ear tips installed) Beats Fit Pro do a good job of blocking out external noises, though not quite as well as over-ear headphones can.
Transparency mode is also here, so you can filter external noises back in should you want to. That's useful when crossing the street or when talking to someone and means you don't have to remove an earbud each time. It's easiest to switch between the different modes using the on-ear controls though you can also do it via Control Center on your iPhone.
Setting the Beats Fit Pro apart from the Beats Studio Buds and various other true wireless earbuds is the inclusion of proper spatial audio, including dynamic head tracking. That means you can enjoy Apple Music all around you and, when watching Dolby Atmos content on Apple TV+ or other supported video, experience a theater-like environment. I find Dolby Atmos content in Apple Music to be hit or miss, but watching an epic scene in See or Foundation with spatial audio turned on makes for a really immersive experience.
When it comes to listening time, Apple says you'll get six hours of playtime from the earbuds with ANC turned on as well as a further 18 hours stored in the charging case. From my usage, that seems about right, and you'll probably plug them in to charge before you really need to. Apple has included the Fast Fuel feature in the Beats Fit Pro too, so if you find yourself low on battery, you can plug them in for five minutes and gain an hour of playback.
All of Apple's smarts + the best of Beats
For Apple users, going with a modern Beats product brings with it a bunch of advantages over non-Apple earbuds. That means if AirPods don't work for you, you still have a viable option without missing out on all of the smart integrations with Apple platforms.
Most notably, Beats Fit Pro utilize Apple's H1 wireless chip. That's the same that is found in the latest AirPods models and enables one-tap pairing and automatic device switching across iPhone, iPad, Mac, and more. To keep costs down, the Beats Studio Buds lack this chip and so don't enjoy the same benefits, which is worth noting if you're choosing between the two. Effectively being an Apple product, you also get hands-free access to Siri by saying "Hey Siri," and incoming text messages can be read out to you if you wish.
Modern Beats products offer a bunch of advantages for Apple users.
Other neat integrations include battery levels showing in the Batteries widget on your iOS devices, AirPods-like in-ear detection sensors that can automatically pause playback, the Ear Fit Test that ensures you have the right fit for noise cancellation, and plenty of customization options via the iOS settings.
Not actually being an Apple product means that Beats Fit Pro can make some accommodations for non-Apple users. They work great with Android (it even says it on the box!) with one-tap pairing and a whole host of customization options via the Beats app for Android. Beats Fit Pro also use USB-C for charging instead of Apple's proprietary Lightning connector.
Not actually being an Apple product means that Beats Fit Pro can make some accommodations for non-Apple users.
Better yet, Beats isn't afraid to experiment with color, which means you can get an AirPods-like product without having to settle for stark white. Beats Fit Pro come in black, white, sage gray, and stone purple. It might seem a minor thing, but people like color, and I'm a big fan of the sage gray colorway of my review set.
Beats Fit Pro: What's not good
There's a lot to love about the Beats Fit Pro, and it's clear the pros outweigh the cons for the majority of people, but that doesn't mean they are perfect, and everyone should ditch their AirPods and run out to buy a set.
As I mentioned earlier, they fit very securely, but this is at the detriment of long-term comfort. During testing, I've worn the Beats Fit Pro for short spells as well as more extended periods and found that after a couple of hours, my ears began to ache. This is commonplace for a lot of in-ear products, but I think the wingtip keeping each Beats Fit Pro earbud totally stationary definitely adds to the feeling here. It's worth considering if you are choosing between regular AirPods and Beats Fit Pro.
Beats Fit Pro's secure fit comes at the detriment of long-term comfort.
Another uncomfortable aspect of the Beats Fit Pro are the on-ear button controls. While I prefer a physical button to a touch-sensitive pad, clicking the button has the drawback of a loud thunking sound in your ear. "Hey Siri," voice controls can assuage this, though it's not always appropriate to be shouting commands out loud. The AirPods stem controls are a nice middle-ground solution, but a lack of stems on the Beats Fit Pro means that's not an option.
My other qualms with the Beats Fit Pro concern the charging case. As far as first impressions go, getting it out of the box was a disappointment for a $200 product. It feels cheap, flimsy, and plasticky, whereas the AirPods cases feel dense and well-constructed. It's also larger than the AirPods case, which makes for a more bulky in-pocket experience.
Not offering wireless charging seems like an own goal.
Further, the case does not offer wireless charging. Qi charging is so commonplace now that it's effectively table stakes at this point. If Apple had added standard Qi charging here and saved MagSafe for its own earbuds, that would have made sense, but to go wired-only feels like an own goal, and I've certainly missed plonking my earbuds down on my various wireless charging pads.
Beats Fit Pro: Competition
Beats Fit Pro are competing against a plethora of truly wireless earbuds, though those unconcerned with some of the advanced features the Beats Fit Pro offer are likely not looking at earbuds in this price range. That puts them in direct competition with higher-end earbuds from Apple like the 3rd-gen AirPods, AirPods Pro, as well as slightly more stripped back Beats Studio Buds, in addition to the wide variety of workout earbuds out there.
AirPods 3 offer the same smarts in a design that doesn't use an in-ear tip which may suit those with more sensitive ears, though you'll miss out on noise cancellation and a secure fit. AirPods Pro have an in-ear design plus some added features like MagSafe wireless charging and more intuitive controls, but they cost considerably more and only come in white.
To help you choose, we've compared the Beats Fit Pro to some competing products, so be sure to hit up our Beats Fit Pro vs AirPods Pro, Beats Fit Pro vs AirPods 3, and Beats Fit Pro vs Beats Studio Buds guides for a more detailed look.
Beats Fit Pro: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want a solid set of workout earbuds
- You want active noise cancellation and transparency modes
- You want something other than AirPods that still offer Apple's smart integrations
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You have sensitive ears
- You won't benefit from the fitness focus or multi-device switching (go for Beats Studio Buds)
- Wireless charging is important to you
With a secure fit and IPX4 water resistance, those on the lookout for premium workout earbuds should consider the Beats Fit Pro. That advice stands regardless of what platform you use, though it's especially true for Apple device owners thanks to the smart features enabled by Apple's in-house H1 wireless chip and deep integration with Apple's iOS, macOS, and tvOS.
If you just want a set of earbuds that look and sound great, the Beats Fit Pro are also a great choice. They sound impeccable out of the box and can be further tuned to your liking, with active noise cancellation and transparency modes without the need for over-ear cans. Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking is also stellar when using Beats Fit Pro with supported content.
Got sensitive ears? Then the Beats fit Pro are not for you if you want to be able to use them for an extended period of time. Similarly, if you don't want to drop $200 on your next set of earbuds, then the Beats Fit Pro are not an option. You could stick with Beats and go for the less expensive Studio Buds and still have a similar if more stripped back, experience, or take a punt on some sub-$50 if you want something super basic.
Beats Fit Pro
Bottom line: Beats Fit Pro offer most of what AirPods Pro do with some added features aimed at keen exercisers. The look and sound great, integrate tightly with Apple devices, and help to block out annoyances with ANC. Outside of a plasticky case and uncomfortable fit for some users, there's not a lot to dislike.
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