Beats headphones: the options explained
Beats headphones are the most popular headphones in the world. The Beats headphones brand was bought by Apple for $3bn back in 2014 and now contains multiple pairs of over-ear headphones and in-ear earphones.
On the over-ear and on-ear side of the Beats headphones range you’ll find the Beats Solo Pro and Beats Studio 3 Wireless leading the charge with an over-ear design, the best sound and highest price. The Beats Solo 3 Wireless is the most popular option, with an on-ear slightly more compact design. And the Beats EP is a cheap Beats option that goes for under $100. You can also still pick up a pair of Beats Pro headphones, made for DJs – though they’re no longer listed on the Beats website.
Meanwhile, the Powerbeats Pro are the latest true wireless earbuds in the Beats in-ear headphone range, offering totally wireless listening with a sporty finish – think Apple Airpods but with better noise isolation and better sound.
They’re backed up by the Powerbeats3 Wireless which is the previous wireless option which connects the earphones behind your neck. You also have the BeatsX – a more traditional style of wireless earbuds and then at the bottom end you also have the wired urBeats3 earphones which is available with either 3.5mm or Lightning connector for an iPhone.
Beats headphones: choosing which to buy
So if you’re looking to buy some Beats headphones but aren’t sure which ones to get or where to find the best prices, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compared every model still readily available – both the newest models and also the now slightly older and cheaper ones – to show you what each pair of Beats headphones does best to help you decide on a pair.
1. Powerbeats Pro
The best Beats headphones for working out
Design: In-ear | Noise cancelling: No | Wireless: Bluetooth | Battery life: 9h | NFC: No | Controls: Touch | Weight: 22g | Colors available: Black, Ivory, Navy, Moss | Year released: 2019 | Launch price: $249/£219
Excellent battery life
Snug fit while exercising
The best in-ear Beats sound
Even more expensive than AirPods
The Powerbeats Pro were certainly worth the wait, especially if you’ve been waiting for the most exercise-friendly Beats headphones yet. Sure, we had the Powerbeats Pro 3 back in 2016, but these are true-wireless, meaning there’s no cable connecting the two earpieces here. The hook that reaches behind the ear feels better than ever and ensures your Beats stay in place during any activity.
In addition to that signature bass-heavy sound, you’re getting surprisingly adept quality at the lower ranges too. The noise-isolation is superior to the AirPods too. Make no mistake though, Beats are at their best with high-energy, big tunes. So, if you’re hitting the gym, these are the Beats you want. They’re not waterproof mind, so be careful if you go running in the rain.
We’re loving the 9-hour battery and that can be boosted to around 24 hours thanks to the charging case that comes with the new Powerbeats Pro headphones. Running late? A five-minute quick charge gives you 90 minutes of playback. Nice.
2. Beats Solo Pro
The best Beats for active noise-canceling audio
Design: : On-ear | *Noise canceling: Yes | Wireless: Bluetooth | Battery life: 40h (22 with NC) | NFC: No | Controls: Touch and voice | Weight: 267g | Colors available: Black, Ivory, Dark Blue, Light BLue, Red, Gray | Year released: 2019 | Launch price: $299 / £269
40-hour battery life
Useful transparency mode
The newest Beats on the block are a fantastic addition to the series and a tempting purchase for anyone looking for a set of cans with decent noise-canceling tech.
Studier than the Solo 3 line and sporting a cool matte finish in each color, the Beats Solo Pro feel like the biggest step up in quality the series has seen in some time for its larger line of headphones. Beats work best with iPhones and pair fast thanks to modern chipsets and we’re loving the hands-free Siri integration too which is a first on the Beats Solo Pro.
The active noise-cancelation brings Apple’s Beats somewhat closer to the best offerings from Sony and Bose, although those two are still ahead by some distance. We do like the simple-one button access to the transparency mode here though. This optional feature allows some outside noise to come through, which can be handy in an office if you want to be aware of someone calling your name or making sure you’re aware of traffic around you when walking or cycling.
3. Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones
Still a fantastic pair of headphones
Design: On-ear | Noise cancelling: No | Wireless: Bluetooth | Battery life: 40h | NFC: No | Controls: touch+wired | Weight: 215g | Colors available: Matt Black, Satin Gold, Satin Silver, Gloss Black, Gloss White, Rose Gold, Gold, Silver, Red, Black/Red | Year released: 2018 | Launch price: $299/£250
Excellent wireless connection
Often available at a discounted price
If you have a modern iPhone and want one of the best pair of Beats headphones made especially for Apple’s new phones, you really should take a look at the Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones. In addition to a fantastic wireless connection and punchy sound you’re getting a huge battery run-time. A single charge can last for up to 40 hours which could last you for an entire week’s worth of commuting between charges. The Solo 3 Wireless are the most popular over/on-ear headphones in the Beats range and are regularly on sale. They’re also available in a whole range of different colour designs so there’s plenty of scope to choose a color scheme that best represents your personality – whether that’s jet black or blingy gold! They fold neatly away in a bag and don’t look massive on your head – although there are no noise cancelling options with this model – for that you’d need either the Beats Studio 3 Wireless or the newer Beats Solo Pro.
4. Beats Studio 3 Wireless headphones
The best Beats headphones for noise-cancelling
Design: Over-ear | Noise cancelling: Yes | Wireless: Bluetooth | Battery life: 22-40h | NFC: No | Controls: touch+wired | Weight: 260g | Colors available: Black, White, Blue, Red, Grey, Black/Red | Year released: 2017 | Launch price: $349/£299
The newest Studio entry in the Beats headphones range is the Beats Studio 3 Wireless. Using an over-ear, closed back design, the Studio 3 is the best noise cancelling set of headphones Beats has ever made. The battery has massively improved too, as you can enjoy music for up to 22 hours, or 40 with the active noise cancelling turned off. The Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones are a great match for users of modern iPhones missing 3.5mm jacks – you can pair them with any smartphone though thanks to the Bluetooth technology. The Studio 3 is available in multiple colors including: red, matte black, white, porcelain rose, blue and shadow grey. They are more expensive compared with the Solo 3 Wireless and they’re bulkier and heavier too – so do make sure you’re aware of this before you buy.
5. Beats X by Dre
Quick charging Beats headphones for music on the move
Design: In-ear | Noise cancelling: No | Wireless: Bluetooth | Battery life: 8h | NFC: No | Controls: wired | Weight: 22g | Colors available: Black, Satin Silver | Year released: 2017 | Launch price: $149/£129
Long after their reveal alongside the iPhone 7, these eagerly awaited in-ear Beats headphones were finally released in February 2017. These wireless headphones are a perfect match for iPhone owners missing the 3.5mm port. We’re particularly impressed by the quick charge feature that gives you two hours of playback from a single five-minute charge. Eight hours from a full charge isn’t too shabby either.
6. Beats urBeats 3 headphones (3.5mm connector)
The 3.5mm connection option for older devices and wired listening
Design: In-ear | Noise cancelling: No | Wireless: No | Battery life: N/A | NFC: No | Controls: Wired | Weight: 16g | Colors available: Black, White, Red/Black, Blue | Year released: 2017 | Launch price: $99/£89
Super cheap nowadays
There are two versions of the urBeats 3 in-ear headphones to look out for. One with a Lightning connection for modern iPhones and these ones with the traditional 3.5mm jack. It gets better too, as Beats have released a few newer in-ear options since the urBeats 3, meaning the prices has come tumbling down in recent months, making these the cheapest Beats on the market. They’re not the best Beats on the market, although the bass performance is impressive from such small buds.
7. Beats urBeats 3 headphones with Lightning Connector
Future-facing port options for modern iPhones
Design: In-ear | Noise cancelling: No | Wireless: No | Battery life: N/A | NFC: No | Controls: Wired | Weight: 16g | Colors available: Black, White, Red/Black, Blue, Yellow, Red | Year released: 2017 | Launch price: $99/£89
Super cheap nowadays
The earphones themselves are the same as the ones above, but they come with a Lightning connector on the end instead of a 3.5mm jack. This is ideal if you want something to use on a modern iPhone or MacBook as we’re seeing those items ditch the old headphone port nowadays. The urBeats 3 with Lightning connector is one of the cheapest in the Beats range too, often with massive discounts compared to the original launch price. They do generally cost a touch more than the 3.5mm versions though.
8. Beats Pro over-ear headphones
Beats headphones made for DJs and those who love bass
Design: Over-ear | Noise cancelling: Non-powered | Wireless: No | Battery life: N/A | NFC: No | Controls: Wired | Weight: 400g | Colors available: Black | Year released: 2016 | Launch price: $399/£349
Great for DJs
Suited for loud environments
Cheaper options available
The Beats Pro over-ear headphones aren’t as appealing for day-to-day use as they used to be thanks to the latest Solo 3 and Studio 3 lines offering a better overall experience, usually for less money too. This model is consequently no longer in production. But if you’re looking for some big, beefy, bassy Beats headphones to use as a DJ or for listening at home they excel in loud environments. The metal frames are incredibly durable too as the rest of the Beats line favour plastic designs.
9. Beats by Dre Powerbeats3 Wireless headphones
The best Beats headphones for active users
Design: In-ear | Noise cancelling: No | Wireless: Bluetooth | Battery life: 12h | NFC: No | Controls: wired | Weight: 25g | Colors available: Black, White, Black/Red | Year released: 2016 | Launch price: $199/£170
Prices are dropping now
Do you lead an active lifestyle that requires the lightweight feel of in-ear headphones without the massive cans on your head? Then the Beats headphones range has you covered for that, too, because not all models about that authentic studio design. With an improved 12-hour battery life, you’re all set for multiple workouts packed with hours of adrenaline-pumping tunes.
If you’d prefer a true-wireless upgrade though, then you may want to consider the new PowerBeats Pro that we mentioned earlier in this article.
10. Beats EP headphones
The cheapest big Beats headphones currently available
Design: On-ear | Noise cancelling: No | Wireless: No | Battery life: N/A | NFC: No | Controls: Wired | Weight: 204g | Colors available: Black, White, Blue, Red | Year released: 2016 | Launch price: $99/£89
Great color options
Balanced and rounded sound
The Beats EP headphones are the cheapest on-ear headphones in the Beats by Dre lineup and are a fine place to start if you’ve had your eye on the colorful stylings for a while. They’re wired via a 3.5mm jack, but at least you’ll never have to worry about them running out of battery juice.