Although the latest AirPods may be a joke, Apple still makes some of the most premium headphones in the world.
Apple-owned Beats has produced a variety of great models over the years. My colleagues and I have been impressed by the Apple-owned models, from the budget Powerbeats (8/10 WIRED Recommendeds) to the flagship Studio3 (8/10 WIRED Recommendeds).
Beats have been a great Apple alternative for years. It wasn't until recently that I realized you would be crazy to buy the Apple-branded buds. These new noise-canceling headphones sound and feel much better than the AirPods Pro, have significantly longer battery life, and are compatible with iOS for $50 less.
The Fit Pro are my favorite earbuds on iOS. They can be used for boring Zoom calls, Netflix in Dolby Atmos, and sweaty workouts. They also come in purple!
Photograph by Beats
In 2014, Apple spent $3 billion on Dr. Dre's associates and Beats Brand employees. I thought that Cupertino was losing its mind (unlike my respected colleague). Beats headphones were plastic and bassy. They looked great, but they sounded and worked like they were headed for the dump.
The Apple era has seen many changes. Beats are made from stronger materials and have a less bass-heavy tune. These beats feel like the original brand products went to college and got a degree as a mechanical engineer.
The Fits Pro are some of the most beautiful Apple products. To improve stability and fit in wide ears, the in-ears feature soft silicone tips and flexible fins. Each earbud has a clicky button on the outside that is located below Beats logo. There are no annoying touch controls. The headphones have sensors underneath that can tell you when the buds are removed.
All of these features are combined with Apple's H1 chip that powers the AirPods Pro and AirPods Pro. This means you can pair your iPhone, iPad, or MacBook instantly, as well as the same spatial audio head track that these buds offer. Although spatial audio isn’t ideal for music, I do use it a lot to watch Netflix on my smartphone, which brings me a better surround-sound experience.