For many listeners, the Beats Fit Pro were a better buy than the AirPods Pro: they had all the essential tech from Apple's best wireless earbuds but they were cheaper, more stylish and fit a lot more securely too.
But now Apple has widened the gap between the AirPods Pro and Beats Fit Pro with the launch of the AirPods Pro 2, which promise to deliver better audio and better noise canceling. Does that mean they're a better buy than the Beats? Let's find out.
AirPods Pro 2 vs Beats Fit Pro: price and release date
The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are available to order now and will be available on 23 September. They’re $249 / £249 / AU$399.
The Beats Fit Pro were launched in November 2021 with an MSRP of $199 / £199 / AU$299.95.
AirPods Pro 2 vs Beats Fit Pro: features
We’ve described the Beats Fit Pro as delivering an AirPods Pro-like experience at a lower price, and that means active noise cancelation, Spatial Audio and hands-free Siri. They have the same H1 chip as the first-generation AirPods Pro. Battery life is around six hours with ANC on and 18 hours from the charging case. Altogether, they're among the best Beats headphones you can buy today.
The AirPods Pro 2 have a slightly better battery life than before – 6 hours individually and 30 hours including the charging case – and the case now works with the Apple Watch charger.
The new case also now has a lanyard loop attachment, to make it less easy to lose. The chip here is the newer H2, which Apple says delivers improved audio quality and improved noise cancelation. In addition, the case now has a speaker in the base too, so you can find it more easily – and the capacitive touch controls on the earbuds enable you to swipe up and down along the length of the stems to adjust the volume.
AirPods Pro 2 vs Beats Fit Pro: sound
For a while Beats had a reputation for making overly bassy headphones, but the Beats Fit Pro are much more subtle and accomplished. They deliver excellent clarity without overpowering the low end, and they sound very similar, if not identical to, the first generation AirPods Pro. Their noise cancelation is on a par too, offering fairly good results without quite scaling the heights of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds that currently lead the class in noise cancelation.
We haven’t had the opportunity to test the AirPods Pro 2 yet, but Apple promises improved sound quality thanks to their new H2 chip inclusion, plus a new low distortion driver and amplifier. There’s the same camera-based personalized Spatial Audio setup we’ve already seen in the AirPods Max, and a new adaptive transparency mode promises to screen out invasive sounds such as road drills while also canceling up to twice as much ambient noise.
AirPods Pro 2 vs Beats Fit Pro: design & fit
The Beats Fit Pro are aimed at active types, so there’s IPX4 water resistance (as there now is with the AirPods Pro 2), plus easy to find touch controls and wingtip-style fittings (which AirPods Pro 2 certainly don't have) to lodge them more securely in your ear. The Beats buds don’t have the same sense of an impending pop-out that you sometimes get with the AirPods Pro. There are three sets of ear tips in the box to help you get the best fit and seal. Oh, and you can get them to match your skin-tone, thanks to a collaboration with Kim Kardashian.
The AirPods Pro 2 appear to be identical to their predecessors with the exception of the new extra-small silicone tip, which should be more comfortable for people with smaller ears. Reports that the stems would be sorter or disappear altogether proved to be unfounded, so if you don’t like the fit of the first-generation Pros, you’re not going to like the new ones either – although now, those stems can offer volume adjustment for the first time.
AirPods Pro 2 vs Beats Fit Pro: conclusion
If the Beats Fit Pro were a slightly less impressive AirPods Pro, then clearly the arrival of the AirPods Pro 2 is going to widen the gap between the Apple branded earbuds and the very similar Beats ones. Apple’s kept the original AirPods Pro design and made very few changes, although the H2 chip should deliver better audio quality and noise cancelation than before.
The downside is that the price gap is wider too, especially in the short term when AirPods Pro 2 deals will be rarer than hen’s teeth. Here in the UK the Beats are widely available for £179, a good £70 less than the AirPods Pro 2 will cost. If you’re not too fussed about the improved noise cancelation, that makes the Beats look a lot more attractive.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.