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I replaced AirPods Pro with Powerbeats Pro for running — here’s what wins

I replaced AirPods Pro with Powerbeats Pro for running — here’s what wins
(Image credit: Future)

I’m on a quest to find the best running headphones that don’t fall out of my ears. When I tried AirPods Pro for running at the track a few weeks ago, I spent more time chasing down the bouncy plummeting buds than banking laps. 

Despite my wireless headphone woes, I’m committed to running as a regular fixture of my workout regimen. I will discover the best wireless earbuds (or headset) to provide the soundtrack, even if I have to wear down the tread of my sneakers in the process.

For my first post-AirPods Pro fail run, I enlisted Powerbeats Pro. Long positioned as a pair of fitness earbuds, I once tried the Beats-brand buds, but I lost them to the laundry cycle when I left them in my sweatpants. 

Still, Powerbeats Pro combines water- and sweat resistance, an attractive ear hook design and effortless Apple integration via an ever-capable H1 chip. If that’s not the combination I need, I’m not sure what is. So are Powerbeats Pro my ideal running headphones? Read on to find out.

Running with Powerbeats Pro: Comfort and security

When I unboxed my baby blue-colored Powerbeats Pro, I saw three additional sets of eartips along with a fourth pair that shipped attached to the buds. AirPods Pro comes with just three total: the medium size already attached, and small and large sizes are in the box. But AirPods Pro offers a special fit test to pick the proper size for you. With Powerbeats Pro, I had to rely on old fashioned trial-and-error.

Satisfied with the stationary security of the smallest eartips, I felt ready to run. Once I finished my walking warm-up at the track, I turned on my upbeat tunes and picked up the pace. At first it seemed as though the Powerbeats Pro wiggled loose and could descend from my ears at any step. I decided to trust they wouldn’t, though, and after the first lap I grew comfortable with the barely-there feel. 

Powerbeats Pro for running

(Image credit: Future)

After two miles, the Powerbeats Pro remained in my ears, even when I needed to adjust my ponytail or wipe away the sweat pooling around my neck in the humid summer air. That said, the comfort declined over time. Around the one-hour mark of my workout, the rigid hooks began pinching my ear lobes. The sensation grew intolerable, so I opted to walk home music-less. I never experienced this awkward pain with AirPods Pro.

Running with Powerbeats Pro: Sound quality

Before the Powerbeats Pro started to hurt my ears, I enjoyed the sound quality. These buds produce well-balanced audio, mastering the oddities of my eclectic running soundtrack. From the iconic baseball broadcast in Meat Loaf’s “Bat of of Hell” and the cymbal beat of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Can’t Hold Us,” to the addictive bass of Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” and anthemic vocals of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” the Powerbeats Pro held their own. I wish they could get a little louder for the moments I need an extra push, though.

Powerbeats Pro aren’t noise-cancelling like AirPods Pro, so I could still hear the passing siren of an emergency vehicle and buzz of other people at the track. I like feeling connected to my surroundings when I’m working out, but I wouldn’t wear Powerbeats Pro when I’m trying to focus on work. I’ll probably stick with AirPods Pro or perhaps AirPods Max when I’m not moving around, two of the best noise-cancelling headphones right now. 

Running with Powerbeats Pro: Verdict

My experience running with Powerbeats Pro could've gone better, but it also could've gone worse. I happen to love the design and fun color options of the Beats earbuds, so I felt stylish, even with sweat dripping down my face. But they say pain is beauty, and that was the case after wearing Powerbeats Pro for a longer workout.

Luckily, I don't plan on reaching distance-runner status anytime soon. For a 60-minute-or-less track workout, the Powerbeats Pro are stellar — and they stay put. For the sound quality and easy pairing, I might even reach for them for my next weight-lifting session, too. I can't say they're the ultimate running headphones I've been searching for, but Powerbeats Pro are a worthy alternative to AirPods Pro. 

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is a senior writer at Tom’s Guide covering wearables, TVs and everything smart-home related. When she’s not in cyborg mode, you can find her on an exercise bike or channeling her inner celebrity chef. She and her robot army will rule the world one day, but until then, reach her at kate.kozuch@futurenet.com.