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Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro: Which Beats earbuds should you buy?

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro
(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

This Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro face-off compares two of the best wireless earbuds, helping you decide which Beats model best suits your needs and budget.

The Beats Studio Buds serves as the company’s entry-level true wireless model. It comes with an all-new design, Bluetooth 5.2 and active noise cancellation, a first for wireless Beats buds. This tiny pair of buds also has a non-Apple chipset that was designed to play nice with iOS and Android, while leveraging high audio and ANC performance.

Critically acclaimed and still popular, the Beats Powerbeats Pro remains a top seller and one of the best sports headphones money can buy. It helped set the standard for lengthy battery life on wireless earbuds, generating nearly double the playtime of the AirPods Pro. Signature brand hallmarks are nailed to a T as well, from the boom-filled soundstage to the ear-hook design that has become synonymous with the Powerbeats line.

These two pairs of wireless earbuds might look different from one another, but they share many similarities and were designed for different audiences. The question is: which is better? Read on to see whether the Studio Buds or Powerbeats Pro is the better buy overall.

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro specs compared

Beats Studio BudsBeats Powerbeats Pro
Price$149$249
Wireless Charging CaseNoNo
ChipN/AH1
Battery Life (Rated)5 hours (ANC on), 8 hours (ANC off), 15 hours (charging case with ANC on), 24 hours (charging case with ANC off)9 hours (24 hours with charging case)
Water ResistanceIPX4IPX4
Case Size2.2 x 2.8 x 1 inches3 x 3 x 1.5 inches
Case Weight1.7 ounces4.6 ounces
Special featuresHybrid active noise cancellation, transparency mode, spatial audio, Fast Fuel charging, “Hey Siri” voice-activated assistance, Bluetooth 5.2, Fast Fuel charging, Google Fast PairAudio sharing, announced messages with Siri, customizable fit, Fast-Fuel Charging, on-board volume controls, “Hey Siri” voice-activated assistance

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro: Price

The Beats Studio Buds costs $149. We don’t expect it to go on sale anytime soon, especially since it just launched; still, if you want to pick up a pair, it's available on Amazon.   

Originally launched at $249, the Beats Powerbeats Pro has seen numerous markdowns over the past year with several online retailers selling the product for as low as $145.

Both products are reasonably affordable and deciding between the two will likely come down to preference.  

For all of the latest Apple and Beats headphones deals, be sure to bookmark our best cheap AirPods deals and best headphones deals pages.

Winner: Tie

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro: Design

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

There’s no denying that Beats creates some of the hottest-looking headphones and earbuds out there. We like the more striking Studio Buds earpieces due to their unique and discrete form. You’ll still draw an audience when rocking these outside; the iconic B logo makes sure of that. Build quality is solid and the buds can sustain scratches and scuffs well. IPX4 certification also gives these beauties sweat and water-resistant protection.

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

The Powerbeats Pro comes with the same IPX4 certification and is built from most of the same materials. It does have a more matte, soft-touch finish, plus the multifunctional button is circular and flush compared to the Studio Buds’ elongated and protruding button. Size is vastly different, with the Powerbeats Pro being longer and wider. You can choose from eight different bold and bright color options, whereas the Studio Buds currently offers three.

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Regarding the charging cases, it's a case of which do you prefer: huge and highly protective or compact and convenient? One look at the photo above should have you leaning towards the latter because the Powerbeats Pro case is freaking massive, and heavy. The Studio Buds case is a crossbreed of the AirPods Pro and Sony WF-SP800N cases, and cooler to carry around, not to mention lighter. 

We only see one benefit to the Powerbeats Pro’s case: it can take beatings. The Studio Buds case will do its job powering and storing the buds, but the magnet employed to keep the lid close is weak.

Winner: Beats Studio Buds

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro: Comfort and hit

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

If you’re someone who fears dropping their earbuds down a sewer grate, the Powerbeats Pro offers you peace of mind. It’s all about the ear hooks, a vital component of the Powerbeats series that was kept intact for this true wireless iteration, and one that provides excellent stability no matter the activity. We’re talking about performing burpees and cartwheels with the buds remaining on your head. The angled sound port allows for easy insertion, but also applies pressure to the concha, causing some discomfort after workouts or within an hour of wear.

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

The Studio Buds design is comfortable too, except it features a new ergonomically tilted acoustic nozzle with laser-cut micro-vent that decreases pressure on the eardrum. However, when it comes to preventing slippage, the standard in-ear design can't compete with the Powerbeats Pro’s much more secure wrap-around design.

Winner: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro: Controls

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

The Studio Buds' controls are more intelligible, while the Powerbeats Pro’s controls are more practical. We favor the Studio Buds because of its dual voice activation. Saying “Hey Siri” or “Hey Google” will fire up either AI bot on their respective platform (iOS or Apple), getting you quick and accurate results. The mics do a fantastic job of registering commands and vocals. There's also a multifunction button on each bud to handle playback, call management, and listening modes, and it's highly responsive to presses.

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

One thing the Powerbeats Pro has that the Studio Buds doesn’t is onboard volume controls. There are rockers located at the top of each bud to easily raise or lower volume. A multifunction button is available to perform the same functions as on the Studio Buds's MF button. “Hey Siri” performs equally well, and while Google Assistant does work when using these buds with an Android device, the “Hey Google” function doesn’t.

Winner: Beats Studio Buds

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro: Sound quality

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Music lovers seeking an adrenaline rush during workouts will prefer the Powerbeats Pro’s bass-forward signature, which is nicely balanced and doesn’t distort sound like older Beats models. Lows are impactful and well represented when listening to tracks from contemporary music genres like EDM and hip-hop. These buds also produce prominent vocals on acoustic tracks. With lows being emphasized, highs don’t receive much attention.

For critical listeners who want to hear imperfections and subtle nuances in recordings, the Studio Buds are more sonically appetizing. The 8.2mm, dual-element diaphragm driver and custom designed transducers help produce spacious, and well-balanced audio, while managing the complexities presented by active noise cancellation. That just means you’ll enjoy the same high-quality sound when listening with ANC on. You can expect some amazing clarity, detail, and range on most tracks. 

Bass won’t hit as hard as it does on the Powerbeats Pro, but there is enough to stimulate toe-taps or head-nods when vibing out to rhythmic selections.

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

As for spatial audio, neither set of earbuds has the full head-tracking support that you'd get on the AirPods Pro. Still, both can play 3D-like songs from Apple Music, and will automatically enable the feature where Dolby Atmos-supporting music is available.

Winner: Beats Studio Buds

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro: Special features and apps

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Beats went all out to stock the Studio Buds with premium features, specifically active noise cancellation and ambient listening. Noise neutralization is adequate for use in moderately loud environments like shopping centers and train stations. 

We estimate the buds are capable of silencing about 75% of ambient noise, though high-frequency sounds do make their way onto the soundstage. Luckily, they aren’t distracting enough to pull you away from whatever is playing on your smartphone. The Transparency mode needs a lot of work, but it should suffice for quick and up-close interactions with people.   

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

The Studio Buds give you access to some well-known features tied to iOS, but not all of them. Audio personalization can be achieved by going into the Settings and selecting from over 20 different presets. Download the System Equalizer Shortcut app and you will have a shortcut to do the same on Android. Headphone Accommodations is another iOS-centric feature that is available to tailor sound to your hearing.

Wireless is where the Studio Buds receives a major boost, as Beats developed its own chipset to operate equally well on iOS and Android. These buds use Bluetooth 5.2 to deliver instant connectivity, no matter the platform, and offer a reliable range (40 feet) to enjoy wireless listening while your smartphone charges in the opposite room. This is also the first Beats release to support Find My in iOS and Find My Device on Android, which use your last known location to find lost buds, along with Google Fast Pair to expedite the pairing process on Android devices.   

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

There are some people out there who may opt for the Powerbeats Pro’s exclusive software perks. With the H1 chip at the helm, these buds grant you auto switching between iCloud-registered devices, audio sharing between two Apple or Beats headphones, and Siri Announce Notifications. Pairing to iOS/macOS machines is also a bit faster on the Powerbeats Pro. 

Firmware updates can be pushed through on either set of buds and new features could be introduced to the Studio Buds and Powerbeats Pro via iOS 15; we just don’t know if they’ll be optimized for the H1 chip and Beats’ new processing architecture.

Winner: Beats Studio Buds

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro: Call quality

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The Powerbeats Pro has always impressed us with its call quality, nearly matching the AirPods Pro. Even without ANC technology, the beamforming mics block out a good amount of ambient noise during calls. This allows for loud and clear conversations both indoors and outdoors. Wind resistance is the only true weakness; it becomes difficult to communicate in drafty conditions.

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

It is shocking to see the Studio Buds underperform as a calling headset, especially since Beats stuffed some strong specs into the model. We received complaints about muffling when taking calls outside. Voices sounded clearer when chatting in quiet environments, but cutout was persistent no matter the location. Wind only made matters worse.

Winner: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro: Battery life

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Future)

You’re getting sufficient playtimes with either product. Based on our testing and rated battery life, the Powerbeats Pro is the longer-lasting option. A full charge earns you 9 hours of use, which is really 8 hours when factoring in volume, heavy streaming, and calls. The Studio Buds are rated at 8 hours, but that number drops to about 6.5 to 7 hours when taking those same variables into account; ANC decreases playtimes to about 4.5 to 5 hours.

An unsung feature on that is available on most AirPods and Beats models is Fast Fuel charging. The Studio Buds have a stronger version of it and can get you 1.5 hours of playback on a 5-minute charge, while the Powerbeats Pro gets you 1 hour in the charge time. Optimized Battery Charging is also available on each model and learns your daily charging routine to preserve battery health.

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

The charging cases hold the same battery life when fully charged: 24 hours. It decreases to 15 hours on the Studio Buds when ANC is enabled. Wireless charging, meanwhile, is MIA and remains exclusive to current AirPods models.

Winner: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Beats Studio Buds vs. Beats Powerbeats Pro: Overall winner

Beats knew it had to go in a different direction with the Studio Buds. The leaks and rumors suggested we were in for a  treat, but we didn’t expect this lower-cost pair to be better on the whole than its fitness-centric sibling. 

To build an entirely new chipset for platform neutrality is an ambitious move that pays off, giving both Android and iOS owners the same rewarding user experience. Even though the bass levels are toned down, sound is spacious and detailed, plus we like that you can still enjoy spatial audio despite no H1 chip. Noise cancellation is also tenable for blocking out common distractions and much better than we anticipated for the price.

Beats Studio BudsBeats Powerbeats Pro
Price and value (5)44
Design (15)1312
Comfort and fit(10)78
Controls (15)1312
Audio (20)1817
Special features and apps (15)108
Call quality (10)78
Battery life (10)910
Total score (100)8179

Two years on the market and the Powerbeats Pro is still a go-to for avid exercisers. You’re getting signature Beats audio with emphasized bass that rattles your eardrums, along with the ear hooks to keep each earpiece in place during workouts. Battery life still ranks highly, even if it's no longer among the best in its class.

Unfortunately for the Powerbeats Pro, it just isn't as suitable for casual listening, due in large part to the lack of lasting comfort. With the newer, smaller buds proving easier on the ear, while making significant improvements in sound and platform support, it's the Beats Studio Buds that can claim to be Beats' best true wireless earbuds overall.

Alex Bracetti

A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.