Beats Studio Buds+ vs. AirPods Pro 2: which earbuds should you buy?

When you’re looking for the best noise-cancelling earbuds, there’s no shortage of options out there with Sony, Sennheiser, Samsung and Google all making some pretty compelling options. 

That said, if you’re an iOS user and want to stay within the Apple ecosystem of products, then you’ve probably got your eye on either the AirPods Pro 2 or new Beats Studio Buds+

While both these earbuds share some of the same features, there’s a pretty substantial difference between them, not to mention a big differential on price that can make choosing between them more difficult than you’d expect.

Not sure which one to buy? This comparison breaks down both models and, by the end of it, should give you all the information you need to make the best choice.

The Apple AirPods Pro 2 (on left) take on the Beats Studio Buds Plus (on right)

(Image credit: Future)

Beats Studio Buds+ vs AirPods Pro 2: Specs compared 

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Header Cell - Column 0 Apple AirPods Pro 2Beats Studio Buds+
Wireless charging caseYesNo
Battery life (rated)5.5 hours (Spatial Audio and Head Tracking on) 6 hours (ANC on); 7 hours (ANC off); 30 hours (charging case with ANC on); 34 hours (charging case with ANC off)9 hours (ANC off); 6 hours (with ANC and/or transparency enabled); up to 36 hours total (with charging case and ANC off)
Water resistanceIPX4 (buds and charging case)IPX4 (buds only)
Size1.22 x 0.86 x 0.94 inches (per bud); 1.78 x 2.39 x 0.85 inches (charging case)0.75 x 1.18 x 0.94 inches (per bud); 1 x 2 x 2.83 inches (charging case)
Weight0.19 ounces (per bud); 1.79 ounces (charging case)Approx. 0.2 ounces (per bud); 1.72 ounces (charging case)
Special featuresANC, adaptive transparency mode, adaptive EQ, personalized spatial audio, automatic switching, Ear Tip Fit Test, physical volume controls, audio sharing, announced messages with Siri, Find My (AirPods), “Hey Siri” voice-activated assistance, Live Listen, MagSafe charging case with built-in speaker, Apple Watch charging, lanyard loop supportANC, adaptive EQ, personalized spatial audio, transparency mode, automatic switching, audio sharing, announced messages with Siri, Ear Tip Fit Test, “Hey Siri” voice-activated assistance, Find My in iOS

Beats Studio Buds+ vs AirPods Pro 2: Price and availability 

As mentioned above, there’s a relatively large difference in price between the Beats Studio Buds+ and AirPods Pro 2, despite the AirPods Pro 2 being several months older than the newer Beats Studio Buds+. 

At the time this article went live, the Beats Studio Buds+ could be found for $169 / £179 / AU$269, which also happens to be the price they launched at on May 17. 

The AirPods Pro 2, meanwhile, can be found for $199 at most major retailers…exept for the Apple Store, where they’re still being sold for their launch price of $249 / $329 CAD / £249 / AU$399. The AirPods Pro 2 were launched on September 23, 2022, making them around seven months older than the Beats Studio Buds+. 

There’s a difference in features, as we’ll explain below, but there’s no arguing the fundamental fact that the Beats Studio Buds+ are the newer, cheaper pair of earbuds. 

Winner: Beats Studio Buds+

Beats Studio Buds+ vs AirPods Pro 2: Design 

Beats Studio Buds Plus in transparent being taken out of charging case

(Image credit: Apple / Beats)

It’s really impressive how similar in features, yet so different in design the AirPods and Studio Buds are from one another. 

The AirPods Pro 2, like the original AirPods and AirPods Pro, have that signature stem and only come in the one signature white color option. The Studio Buds on the other hand? Not only are they smaller and more spherical in their design, but they come in two different color options, black/gold and ivory, or completely transparent. 

There’s an obvious aesthetic difference between them, but their difference in size and shape means that they’ll work differently for different sized ears — the Studio Buds are perfect for people whose ears hurt from wearing earbuds for long periods of time, while the AirPods are perfect for people who have a hard time keeping earbuds locked in place.

As far as the cases are concerned, there’s not a ton to say. Both are IPX4 water-resistant so they can stand a bit of rain and both can be found using the Find My… app on iOS devices should either get lost somewhere. The AirPods Pro 2’s case does have wireless charging, however, so if that’s a factor then count this category as a win for the Pro 2. Otherwise, I’m going to call this one a tie.

Winner: Tie 

Beats Studio Buds+ vs AirPods Pro 2: Controls 

AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: Future)

While the controls are similar on both earbuds, each has one trick that makes them unique. For the Studio Buds+ it’s Android fast-pairing, while the AirPods Pro 2 uses its touch-capacitive stems for control instead of a physical button.

Because setup is pretty easy on Android with the Studio Buds+, we recommend those if you’re planning on pairing it with something like the Google Pixel 7 while the AirPods are obviously a better option for any Apple device like the iPhone 14 Pro

When it comes to physically controlling them, however, the AirPods Pro 2 are the better choice — being able to use the stem to control audio playback is significantly more comfortable than pushing a button on the side of the earbuds. The silver lining? Thankfully both earbuds support hands-free ‘Hey Siri’ voice control on iOS devices.

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

Beats Studio Buds+ vs AirPods Pro 2: Sound quality 

Our reviewer running with AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Before we start, it’s important to remember that there’s a fair amount of subjectivity when it comes to comparing audio quality. No one’s ears hear exactly the same way, which means you might hear something we don’t and vice versa. 

That said, based on our reviewers’ experiences, we think the AirPods Pro 2 are going to offer a better overall sound quality that more people will enjoy. 

Just read these two excerpts: 

From our Beats Studio Buds+ review: The frequency balance is on the lean side. There's a lack of bass depth and warmth that I wasn't expecting when listening to Loreen's Eurovision-winning song "Tattoo" streamed via Apple Music, particularly at lower volume levels … Increasing the volume level does help to fill out the bass and bring more energy, but it needs to be pushed to louder than I'd expect to achieve full-spectrum sound.

Compare that to this excerpt from our AirPods Pro 2 review

The higher frequencies can, at first, feel a bit fatiguing compared to other headphones (just try any Ozzy Osbourne song if you don’t believe me) and the low-end could still be a bit richer … but they do articulate some really nice details that you wouldn’t be able to hear as clearly with other earbuds.

OK, so the AirPods probably sound better — but that’s not all. They also have the more advanced spatial audio support with head tracking. That feature is only available on the AirPods Pro 2 and isn’t on the Studio Buds+. To me, that puts the AirPods Pro 2 miles ahead of the Studio Buds+.

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

Beats Studio Buds+ vs AirPods Pro 2: Battery life 

Beats Studio Buds+ transparent

(Image credit: Future)

Battery life between the two flagship earbuds is comparable, but the Studio Buds have a slight edge in this department. 

According to Apple and corroborated by our testing, the AirPods Pro 2 should last around 30 hours with the charging case. The Beats Studio Buds+ bump that number up to 36 hours with the charging case, though both sets of earbuds will only run for about six hours before they need to go back in their respective cases to recharge.

When it comes to charging, both support fast charging, which gives you around one hour of playback from just a 5-minute charge. A full system recharge takes 2 hours on both ‘buds.

Winner: Beats Studio Buds+

Beats Studio Buds+ vs AirPods Pro 2: Verdict 

It’s a close call but in our opinion, the AirPods Pro 2 are the better buy — for just $30 more you’re getting better sound quality and controls. Yes, you’re losing out on some battery life and better support on Android — which, if that matters, then disregard this paragraph and just buy the Beats instead — but otherwise the AirPods Pro 2’s pros far outweigh the cons. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Apple AirPods Pro 2Beats Studio Buds+
Price and value (5)45
Design (15)1515
Controls (10)107
Audio quality (20)1815
Active noise cancellation(20)1816
Special features and apps (15)1416
Call quality (5)33
Battery life (10)68
Total score (100)8885
Nick Pino
Managing Editor, TV and AV

Nick Pino heads up the TV and AV verticals at Tom's Guide and covers everything from OLED TVs to the latest wireless headphones. He was formerly the Senior Editor, TV and AV at TechRadar (Tom's Guide's sister site) and has previously written for GamesRadar, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade. Not sure which TV you should buy? Drop him an email or tweet him on Twitter and he can help you out.