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We first heard rumours last month that Apple’s Beats division was working on a new set of true wireless earbuds. Now it looks like the company has just made it official with the debut of Beats Fit Pro, a set of earbuds powered by Apple’s H1 chip that also includes Active Noise Cancellation.
This puts the new Beats Fit Pro in an interesting place amongst Apple’s overall headphone lineup. While the Beats division is an arms-length brand from the more Apple-centric AirPods, Beats headphones are still ultimately products designed and marketed under Apple’s aegis. So, surely, Apple must consider how the AirPods and Beats relate to each other when developing each of these products.
Yet, at $199, the new Beats Fit Pro include many of the features that are otherwise only available on Apple’s more expensive AirPods Pro — for $50 less.
This includes not only the aforementioned Active Noise Cancellation, which also includes the same AirPods Pro Transparency Mode feature and Spatial Audio support, complete with dynamic head tracking.
In addition, the new Beats are powered by the same H1 chip found in Apple’s entire AirPods lineup, making them only the fourth Beats product to gain this chip, which most significantly powers features like hands-free “Hey Siri” support, along with things like Bluetooth 5.0 and faster pairing.
How They Compare
While the Powerbeats Pro, Powerbeats, and Beats Solo Pro all gained the H1 chip, the much more affordable Beats Flex stayed with the older W1, while the fashionable Beats Studio Buds lacked Apple Silicon entirely.
Interestingly, it was the $300 Beats Solo Pro that were the first full-size headphones to gain the H1 chip, which arrived over a year before Apple released the AirPods Max under its own branding. However, the two products still differ in that the Beats Solo Pro are on-ear headphones, while the AirPods Max are full over-ear headphones. This probably is why we haven’t seen a similar “Beats Studio Pro” update arrive — the Beats Studio3 wireless remain at the top of that lineup, powered by Apple’s older W1 chip.
Today, however, only six weeks after Apple debuted the new $179 AirPods 3, its Beats brand is out with a strong competitor that it’s selling for only $20 more, and while there are some subtle differences, in many ways, these new Beats Fit Pro come in closer to the $249 AirPods Pro than they do to the $179 AirPods 3.
What You’re Getting
Here’s the rundown of what you’re getting with Beats Fit Pro:
- Multiple colours: Stone Purple, Sage Grey, White, and Black.
- Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode.
- Adaptive EQ.
- Up to seven hours of listening time, with 21 more provided by the charging case (a total of 30 hours).
- USB-C wired charging (no wireless).
- Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking.
Early reviewers note that the ANC, Transparency Mode, and Adaptive EQ features all sound the same on the Beats Fit Pro as they do on the AirPods Pro, which isn’t surprising considering they’re powered by the same chips.
Although they lack the wireless charging case, they also beat out both the AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro on battery life. Instead, you’ll have to plug into a USB-C cable to juice everything back up. This lines up with the more device-agnostic branding of Beats, which is arguably targeted more at Android smartphone users, although it’s not like Apple fans won’t have a few USB-C cables lying around too.
Where the Beats Fit Pro and AirPods diverge most noticeably is in design. Beats is still going for its more typically fitness-centric approach here, as the “Fit” branding suggests. While the Beats Fit Pro are technically “stemless,” they actually use a flexible wing-tip design to hold them in your ears, which the company notes came from extensive research and testing to build a design that will stay in even during the most strenuous workouts.
What’s significant here, though, is that Beats Fit Pro are cutting-edge earbuds. They’re not a second-rate product designed for those who can’t afford AirPods, but rather an alternative to bring all the best AirPods technology to another form factor, with a brand that will appeal to those outside of the Apple ecosystem. For instance, Beats Fit Pro even use the same new skin detection sensors that only just came to the third-generation AirPods in September.
Unlike the Studio Buds, however, Apple is making sure that Beats Fit Pro are just as usable for Apple fans as AirPods are, packing in the same H1 chip that offers fast and seamless pairing, faster switching between Apple devices, low latency, “Hey Siri” voice activation, and Audio Sharing.