Beats Fit Pro Review: The AirPods I’ve Always Wanted

Beats Fit Pro Review: The AirPods I’ve Always Wanted

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Ever since I ditched my AirPods Pro for the Jabra Elite Active 75t earlier this year, I’ve been yearning for a pair of Apple buds that borrow the superior colors and controls that have made my Jabras a daily staple. The new AirPods 3, while great in their own way, are not that. But a few days after being somewhat underwhelmed by Apple’s latest buds, the $199 Beats Fit Pro arrived at my doorstep.

The latest Beats earbuds are aimed at folks who want a more compact version of the Powerbeats Pro for their daily workouts while also borrowing key AirPods Pro features like active noise cancellation (ANC) and spatial audio. But even as someone who isn’t a fitness freak, the Beats Fit Pro are largely the AirPods I’ve been waiting for Apple to make.

An excellent AirPods Pro alternative

The Beats Fit Pro blend all of the AirPods Pro’s best features with a stylish, secure and workout-friendly design.

The who, what and how Who it’s for: The $199 Beats Fit Pro are for someone who wants a pair of high-quality, workout-friendly earbuds that aren’t as bulky as the Powerbeats Pro. They also make a great and more affordable AirPods Pro alternative, offering many of the Pro’s key features within a more gym-friendly and colorful design.

What you need to know: The Beats Fit Pro combine the best of the latest Beats and Apple earbuds, packing features like ANC and a Transparency mode for amplifying your surroundings within a unique wingtip design built to stay in your ear during intense workouts.

How it compares: Beats’ latest earbuds are pretty comparable to the $249 AirPods Pro when it comes to features and sound quality. They also have a much cheaper retail price (at the expense of wireless charging), though the AirPods Pro are frequently discounted. The Fit Pro are more compact, versatile and affordable than the $249 Powerbeats Pro, which are still worth taking a look at for folks who want the added security of an ear hook design.

Mike Andronico/CNN The Beats Fit Pro have three major features I’ve been wishing the AirPods would adopt: physical controls, USB-C charging and, most importantly, some really cool color options. They also just feel fantastic.

These stylish buds look similar to the Beats Studio Buds released earlier this year but with an added wingtip designed to provide some extra support while you’re vigorously working out. I’ve never been a fan of the massive ear hooks on the larger Powerbeats Pro, and I’m really pleased with just how compact the Fit Pro are by comparison.

It feels redundant to call a premium pair of wireless earbuds comfortable at this point — because most of them are great — but the Fit Pro really are a joy to wear. I don’t typically use wingtip earbuds, but I almost never felt the extra padding, thanks to a soft, lightweight and flexible rubber design.

As with the AirPods Pro, you get three sets of ear tips and can do a quick fit test on your phone to find the right ones for you. Once I settled on the larger set, the Beats Fit Pro felt snug and secure throughout days of working, walking and commuting without ever feeling tight. These IPX4-rated buds endured a few strolls in the rain without issues, and several of my more fitness-minded colleagues reported that they stayed firm and comfortable during workouts.

Mike Andronico/CNN I’ve been waiting for AirPods that come in actual colors (you don’t count, AirPods Max), but now that I have a pair of Beats Fit Pro in gorgeous Stone Purple (which is really pink), I might not have to anymore. The Fit Pro certainly aren’t the most subtle buds I’ve worn, but they’re still sleek enough that I feel good about wearing them on the train. Plus, there aren’t any pesky stems that hang out of your ear like on the AirPods. There aren’t quite as many color options as there are for the Powerbeats Pro — I’d love a pair of Fit Pro in Glacier Blue — but the buds’ black, Sage Gray and white variations are all pretty slick and subdued.

I’ve never had much of an issue with tapping or pinching the AirPods and AirPods Pro to control my music playback, but ever since using Jabra’s earbuds, I much prefer the satisfying accuracy of a physical click. Fortunately, the Beats Fit Pro offer just that, with snappy control buttons on either bud that made it easy to pause and skip tracks or switch between various sound modes. I just wish the controls were more robust and customizable — while Jabra’s buds let you control volume, playback and sound modes all at once, the Fit Pro essentially make you choose between whether you want to toggle volume or change modes with a long press of a button.

I was delighted to find that the Beats Fit Pro’s case charges via USB-C rather than Apple’s proprietary Lightning cable, since the former lets me juice them up with the litany of USB-C cables I already have handy at any given moment. You will have to live without wireless charging (which is available on the latest AirPods Pro and AirPods cases), but that’s not a feature I’ve ever gotten much use out of. My only real gripe is that the case is a little bulky — it’s not nearly as gargantuan as the one that houses the PowerBeats Pro, but it also takes up more pocket space than the AirPods Pro or Jabra Elite 7 Active.

Mike Andronico/CNN The Beats Fit Pro are pretty similar to the AirPods Pro in the audio department, which is to say they sound great. These earbuds have been my main music headphones for nearly a week now, and thanks to their ability to pump out clean audio with crisp guitars and vocals (and no shortage of bass), I don’t plan on dropping them anytime soon.

Beats’ latest buds have what Apple is calling a “new acoustic architecture,” which might explain why my favorite songs sounded a lot more spacious than what I was used to. For example, on a track like “Cat’s Cradle” by Tigers Jaw — which I’ve listened to dozens of times — I could suddenly hear the specific left-right placement of vocal harmonies much better than on the Jabra Elite 7 Pro I’ve been using daily.

This impressive audio separation goes even further when you’re listening to music or watching movies that support Spatial Audio with head tracking, which is the same 360-degree audio tech found on most AirPods models. When I warped back to high school and rocked out to Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” on Apple Music, each instrument came from a consistent direction even as I moved my head around. It’s a cool effect that kind of makes you feel like you’re at a live show, though I still prefer to listen to most songs in good ol’ stereo.

The Beats Fit Pro have the same ANC and Transparency modes as the AirPods Pro, and t

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