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Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) vs Beats Studio Buds

The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and the Beats Studio Buds are competing earbuds from the same company, so what really sets them apart?
By
January 11, 2023
A

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and the Beats Studio Buds are interesting to compare, especially considering that Beats is a subsidiary of Apple. In some ways these true wireless earbuds are very similar, but they also have some notable distinctions. The most clear difference is the better support for Android on the part of the Beats Studio Buds. But which of these pairs of earbuds is better overall?

Editor’s note: this article was published on January 11, 2023, and is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.

What’s it like to use the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) compared to the Beats Studio Buds?

Beats Studio Buds packaging
The Beats Studio Buds comes with plenty of ear tips for you to find a comfortable, secure fit, but not as many as the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation).

The overall design language of both of these products is fairly comparable, with them both being true wireless earbuds with a charging case. The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) features a lightning connector for charging, whereas the Beats Studio Buds supports USB-C instead. This is due to the Beats Studio Buds aiming to support phones beyond Apple’s iPhone line. The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) comes with four differently sized silicone tips that you can swap out to find the correct fit, whereas the Beats Studio Buds comes with only three different sizes. The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) will also automatically pause when you remove the earbuds, but the Beats Studio Buds will not. Both of these products have an IPX4 rating, meaning that they’ll hold up okay in wet conditions. 

How do you control the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and Beats Studio Buds?

A hand holds the right earbud of the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) to show off the stem.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The pressure-sensitive stems on the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) supports swipes to adjust the volume.

Each set of earbuds has notably different controls. The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) uses a touch and swipe based system, and the Beats Studio Buds sports a physical clickable button on either earbud. However, despite this the two products have a nearly identical set of controls options. On both products you’re able to play, pause, take calls, raise and lower the volume, and enable or disable active noise cancelling.

INPUT (stems)ACTION
One press
Play/pause/answer call
Two presses
Next track
Three presses
Previous track
Press and hold
Toggle ANC/Adaptive Transparency modes
Swipe up/down
Increase/decrease volume
"Hey Siri"
Change volume, request directions, playback control, receive messages, and more

iPhone users will be able to summon their phone’s voice assistant by invoking the phrase “Hey Siri” on either set of buds, whereas Android users may have to physically press the buttons on the Beats Studio Buds to bring up their voice assistant depending on their phone’s settings. You’re also able to adjust which button presses do what in the app for the Beats Studio Buds.

INPUTACTION
One press
Play/pause/answer call
Two presses
Next track
Three presses
Previous track
Press and hold
ANC/Transparency/virtual assistant/reject call
"Hey Siri"
Change volume, request directions, playback control, receive messages, and more

Should you use the apps of either AirPods Pro (2nd generation) or Beats Studio Buds?

Beats Studio Buds pairing
The Beats Studio Buds don’t have an app for iOS because it’s integrated into the OS, but Android users will want to download their app.

Both the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and the Beats Studio Buds works effortlessly with iOS and iPad OS devices, with no additional app required. If you’re using an iPhone you’ll have no trouble at all pairing and configuring either product, and the setup process is almost exactly identical. Android users will have a little trouble using the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation). There is no app for Android, and obviously the Settings app won’t have the same sort of integration with the device. There’s no way to receive updates, either. It’s a very barebones experience, but you will at least be able to get some audio over Bluetooth.

The Beats Studio Buds on the other hand is fully supported on Android, and have its own app that will allow you toggle listening modes, customize the controls, and apply firmware updates. That being said once you’re through setting them up the Beats app is mostly superfluous to the day-to-day experience.

How do the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and Beats Studio Buds connect?

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) case open with one of the earbuds on a burlap sack, and the Nothing Ear 1 case in the background.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) offers a very smooth experience when paired to an iPhone.

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and the Beats Studio Buds are both Bluetooth earbuds, with no backup wired option like some Bluetooth headphones. The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) supports the latest Bluetooth 5.3 standard, whereas the Beats Studio Buds ships with the Bluetooth 5.2 standard. These are functionally very similar, with Bluetooth 5.3 mostly paving the way for Bluetooth LE support. Both of these earbuds support AAC and SBC Bluetooth audio codecs, which are the default options for Bluetooth 5.0 and higher,  but they lack options capable of higher quality like aptX or LDAC.

Is battery life better on the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) or Beats Studio Buds?

Beats Studio Buds on desk
The Beats Studio Buds have a slightly worse battery life, but it’s still several hours worth of listening time.

With active noise cancelling enabled on both, the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) lasts longer than the Beats Studio Buds, with 5 hours, 43 minutes and 4 hours, 24 minutes, respectively. The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) promises 24 hours of total use when charging with the case, while the Beats Studio Buds promise only two additional charge cycles (of course, it’s also important to note that battery performance will degrade over time).

Both products support fast charging, but it’s crucial to note that the AirPods use a Lightning connector to charge, whereas the Studio Buds support USB-C. Additionally the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) supports wireless charging, whereas the Beats Studio Buds does not.

Does the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) or Beats Studio Buds block noise better?

The Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation and Beats Studio Buds active noise cancelling comparison chart, shwoing generally better ANC performance by the Apple AirPods.
The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) do a notably better job at attenuating noise when using ANC.

The Beats Studio Buds active noise cancelling simply doesn’t hold a candle to most other true wireless earbuds on the market right now. While both it and the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) have fairly decent noise isolation without active noise cancelling enabled, the AirPods are simply far better when ANC is fully enabled. This makes the AirPods Pro better suited for travel and commuting—it’s good at blocking out the noises of airplanes, buses, and trains. Of course, it’s also important to get a proper seal and fit to obtain the full ANC effect, which you’ll have an easier time doing with the AirPods’ four different sized ear tips compared to the three ones included with the Beats Studio Buds. Additionally, the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) features ANC that will automatically adjust depending on if you’re listening in a particularly loud environment.

Does the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) sound better than the Beats Studio Buds?

The Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation and Beats Studio Buds frequency response comparison chart showing them having fairly similar performance.
Both earbuds have fairly similar frequency response curves with a slight high and low emphasis.

When it comes to our testing with sound quality both the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and the Beats Studio Buds are clearly drawing from the same school of thought. They both stick very close to the SoundGuys house curve, with only slight deviations here and there in the frequency response. This means a slight emphasis on the bass and high end frequencies. The Beats Studio Buds falter only slightly with a slightly stronger set of peaks and valleys around 10kHz, as well as a ~5dB deviation in the midrange. Generally these two are fairly neck and neck with regards to sound quality. The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) also features an adaptive EQ, which attempts to compensate for differences in the shape of the listener’s ear. Of course, you can adjust the EQ manually on the Beats Studio Buds, but you likely won’t get the same results.

Does the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) or Beats Studio Buds have a better microphone?

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) sensors decorate the earbuds which lay on a yellow, textured surface.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) has microphones on both earbuds in order to deliver better call quality, and the Beats Studio Buds works very similarly.

Both the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and the Beats Studio Buds operate on a similar principle of using two microphones to enhance their call quality. Under ideal conditions both of these earbuds perform fairly well. However, in louder environments or windy weather they both falter somewhat. Basically, they both provide adequate results and have similar strengths and weaknesses. You can listen below to hear our samples for yourself, and vote in the associated poll.

AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Beats Studio Buds microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Office conditions):

Beats Studio Buds microphone demo (Office conditions):

AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Windy conditions):

Beats Studio Buds microphone demo (Windy conditions):

Which microphone sounds better?

50 votes

Should you get the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) or Beats Studio Buds?

For the most part. this choice depends on which smartphone you use. If you have anything other than an iPhone, the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) just isn’t really for you. Sure, it’ll work in a pinch, but you’ll be missing out on several important features and the slick Apple ease of use. The choice is also already made for you if you’re someone operating on a budget. The Beats Studio Buds are $100 cheaper than the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation). With the sound quality being nearly on par, and the design and battery life being only a little bit behind, the Beats Studio Buds are an appealing choice.

Beats Studio Buds with AppleCare Plus (2 Years)Beats Studio Buds with AppleCare Plus (2 Years)
Beats Studio Buds with AppleCare Plus (2 Years)
Decent sound quality • Multiple listening modes • Lightweight
A good fit, great sound, and active noise cancellation
Android smartphone owners can finally enjoy the Beats brand with Studio Buds. They have great sound, sweat resistance, and active noise cancellation in a small, comfortable design.

However, if you’re an iPhone user, someone that appreciates the more premium quality that comes with a more expensive product, or just appreciate that Apple magic, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) is the superior choice. It has an extra hour of listening time, 24 hours of battery total, slick integration with iOS/iPad OS, and wireless charging.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Impressive ANC • Comfortable fit • Wireless charging
One of the best true wireless earbuds for iOS users
The second generation of AirPods Pro features top-quality active noise cancellation in a water-resistant package.

What should you get instead of the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and Beats Studio Buds?

A hand holds the open case with the buds showing of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro in front of green succulents.
Jasper Lastoria / SoundGuys
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 is a little friendlier for masks, given it lacks the stems of the AirPods Pro.

If you’re looking for alternatives the first place to check would be other products from the same product lines as these two. The Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation) is fairly comparable to the new second generation version, but can be found for a fair bit cheaper if you know where to look. The Beats Fit Pro is a great set of true wireless earbuds for anyone looking for a more workout-focused product. If you’re looking for another Android-oriented option, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 might interest you, coming in around the same price as the Beats Studio Buds. Finally if you want a platform-agnostic option that matches Apple for that luxury feel, the Sony WF-1000XM4 is a fantastic option.

Frequently asked questions

Yes! Both of these pairs of earbuds support fast charging. However only the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) has support for wireless charging using its charging case.