PowerBeats Pro: Poor Bluetooth Connectivity

published by Chand Bellur – October 10, 2020 at 3:17 p.m.

  • PowerBeats Pro wireless earphones offer excellent audio quality and stay attached to one’s ears better than AirPods.
  • Apple acquired Beats back in August 2014, folding technological innovations, such as the W1 chip, into their products.
  • Although the W1 chip enhances connectivity with Apple devices, PowerBeats Pro offer poor Bluetooth connectivity conflicting with WiFi networks, resulting in dropped connections.

A Brief History of Beats

Founded by hip hop recording artist Dr. Dre, Beats Electronics LLC provides high-end consumer audio equipment, including headphones, earphones, and wireless speakers. Known for both style, sound quality, and high prices, critics suggest that Beats takes a page from Apple’s playbook, positioning price as an indicator of quality. At the end of the day, Beats headphones come out of the same factories in Asia as less expensive brands.

Apple acquired Beats in the summer of 2014, enabling better technological integration between the two entities. Apple products enjoyed better sound quality due to Beats innovations. Beats products, particularly wireless models, gained better connectivity with Apple devices, with the addition of the W1 wireless chip. The chip provides better connectivity for Apple products; however, its enhanced wireless capabilities don’t benefit Android smartphones, Windows computers, or other products outside of its ecosystem.

PowerBeats Pro: Perfect Fit for Active Lifestyles

Although AirPods and AirPods Pro are designed by Apple and manufactured by Foxconn and others, they’re not ideal for some individuals. They’ve improved through the years, however, AirPods still don’t fit well with all ear shapes and sizes. If you’re active and want to wear your AirPods on a run, even the best fitting models will break their seal as sweat and movement compromise the design.

PowerBeats Pro earphones are a much better option for active users. If you run, dance, or do any high momentum activities, PowerBeats Pro will stay attached to your ears and provide excellent sound quality. The addition of ear hooks make PowerBeats Pro bulkier than AirPods; however, these appendages help keep the earphones firmly attached to one’s ears. I can bang my head to metal, and these things still stay on. That’s simply not true of AirPods.

Despite lacking an official IPS rating, Beats claims their wireless earphones are sweat and water-resistant. I’ve been wearing them on runs where sweat and fog dampens the earphones. I’ve noticed no damage or malfunctions as a result of moisture.

As for comfort, Beats’ wireless earphones take some getting used to. At first, one’s ears may feel tender after several minutes of use. This goes away after a few sessions. I can wear these earphones for hours, without discomfort.

PowerBeats Pro Sound Excellent

PowerBeats Pro wireless earphones offer superior sound quality to competitors. AirPods don’t sound any better than the inexpensive wired EarPods shipping with every iPhone. AirPods Pro offer slightly better audio quality than the standard model; however, they still lack bass. PowerBeats Pro, with their superior driver technology, provide more bass than any wireless earphones I have used.

Unfortunately, Beats withholds more information about their devices than their parent corporation. If you Google for PowerBeats Pro specs, you won’t find any information about frequency response or signal-to-noise ratio. Much like Apple, they withhold this information from consumers so that decision making will be emotional rather than rational.

Beats, like Apple, is a lifestyle brand. They want you to bond with the athletic hipster models in their ads. Perhaps, if you purchase PowerBeats Pro, you’ll look amazing in leggings and finally get the gym body that’s eluded you for years. All you need is some music to motivate you. It’s a high quality sales pitch, promising a better life instead of just a mere product.

PowerBeats Beats AirPods’ Battery Life

With a larger size, PowerBeats Pro have room for a bigger battery compared to AirPods. Teardowns reveal that PowerBeats Pro feature twice the battery capacity of AirPods, with their 200 mWh cell.

With twice the battery capacity, PowerBeats Pro last longer than AirPods. Each wireless earphone provides up to 9 hours of listening time on one charge. PowerBeats Pro charge quickly, with a 5-minute charge providing up to 1.5 hours of audio playback.

One drawback to bigger earphones is that the case is larger too. Beats seemed to create a case much larger than necessary, making it difficult to pocket and impractical. With 9-hour battery life, most people don’t need an ultra-portable charging case.

As with most modern wireless earbuds, the case itself features a rechargeable battery. By charging the case and earbuds simultaneously, one can unplug the case and use it to recharge the earphones when they run out of power. This provides up to 24 hours of listening time before the case and earphones need recharging.

PowerBeats Pro Pair Best with Apple Devices

After Apple’s Beats acquisition, the two corporations began sharing technology. Beats headphones still offer superior sound to Apple’s AirPods and EarPods. Apple’s W1 chip provides better connectivity; however, it’s exclusive to the ecosystem. Android smartphones, Windows computers, and most devices in the world don’t support Apple’s W1 chip.

If you own an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, iMac, or MacBook Pro, PowerBeats Pro wireless earphones are an ideal purchase. The system integration is top-notch. Simply open the charging case, and your device will pair with PowerBeats Pro earphones automagically. More importantly, they stay connected. 

This is the proprietary W1 chip at work. It seamlessly integrates wireless devices and ensures they stay connected. I’ve never experienced a drop with my PowerBeats Pro connected to any of my Apple devices. I can’t say that for my other devices, and it’s not their fault. PowerBeats Pro seem to offer poor Bluetooth connectivity, which is a problem for those intending to use the earphones with non-Apple products.

Unfortunately for Apple and Beats, competing wireless earbuds stay connected without a proprietary chip. By relying on this technology, they seem to have created products that don’t work well outside of the Apple ecosystem.

PowerBeats Pro Offer Weak Bluetooth Connectivity

I’ve been an Apple customer for a long time, but after bad experiences with two Macintosh computers and an adverse reaction to Apple’s monopolistic practices, I decided to leave the ecosystem. Apart from the bare minimum equipment I need to research for Appledystopia, an Apple-centric site, I use Android and Windows devices for my daily drivers.

I’m writing this article on an LG Gram 15 laptop computer, and I prefer it to any MacBook Pro I’ve owned. It’s connected to a WiFi 6 wireless hotspot running on an ultra-premium OnePlus 8 Pro Android smartphone. It can multiplex a WiFi hotspot, which the iPhone still cannot do. The iPhone’s WiFi hotspot only supports cellular data. My OnePlus also has a brighter screen with a 120 Hz refresh rate and two 48 MP camera sensors that take stunning photos. With its bigger battery and WARP charging, I never hug the wall.

Although I’m thrilled with my non-Apple products, frustration grows with my fruity devices. My PowerBeats Pro, which work well with every Apple device, end up having poor Bluetooth connectivity, particularly with my new LG laptop.

I ran a variety of tests eliminating other possibilities. The only solution was to replace my PowerBeats Pro with another device. I purchased a popular Bluetooth audio adapter for my home stereo, and it works just fine with my laptop. Every other Bluetooth device works with my laptop. My PowerBeats Pro lose connectivity, even if I’m a few feet from my LG gram. They work best if WiFi is turned off, which hobbles their functionality. I can only use them reliably with downloaded content.

It’s not just me. Others have noticed that PowerBeats Pro often drop Bluetooth connections.

image credit: MacRumors

For me, it happens about every twenty minutes, and I need to toggle Bluetooth on and off to fix it. To avoid interference, I tried using other WiFi channels to no avail. It’s as if they only tested these earphones with Apple devices.

My Android smartphone works quite well with PowerBeats Pro earphones. Perhaps it’s because Beats develops an Android app to support their products. It runs in the background and assists with pairing my earphones. I was even able to upgrade the firmware using my Android phone. (My Apple devices never informed me of an update, but I never installed the Beats app on them.)

It’s possible that the Android Beats app may be able to harness the W1 chip, however, research could not confirm this. In either event, my PowerBeats Pros work just fine with my OnePlus 8 Pro.

Given that they don’t work with some laptops and other non-Apple devices, it’s best to avoid purchasing these earphones unless you use Apple devices exclusively. If you plan on connecting these to some random TV in a hotel room, don’t expect the best experience. PowerBeats Pro are made for the Apple ecosystem. They can only be charged with a Lightning cable. Unless you’re an Apple fundamentalist, I recommend skipping these highly priced wireless earphones for better, cheaper and more compatible models.

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