The newest Beats in-ear headphones have officially arrived and they come with a compelling set of features priced $100 below AirPods Pro. But even though they come with active noise cancellation, transparency mode, Hey Siri support, and more, there are some tradeoffs. Let’s look at the Beats Studio Buds vs. AirPods and AirPods Pro to see how they all stack up.

Update 6/25: Beats Studio Buds are arriving to early customers and are in stock at many Apple Stores. Shipping times for new orders are 3-4 days at the time of writing.

Below we’ve got a side-by-side comparison of Apple’s most popular fully wireless earbuds – AirPods/Pro – and the new Beats Studio Buds when it comes to design, battery life, features, and sound quality. And for more details, be sure to check out our full review:

Beats Studio Buds vs. AirPods and AirPods Pro


Beats Studio Buds vs AirPods - design

The first thing many will notice is the stemless, compact design of the Beats Studio Buds. You’re also getting an in-ear fit with three ear tip sizes included like AirPods Pro.

One benefit over AirPods/AirPods Pro is the option to go for black or red with the new Beats instead of being limited to white. However, you’re not getting a wireless charging case and will have to power that up with the included USB-C cable.

Beats Studio Buds AirPods Pro AirPods
Fully wireless
In-ear fit with 3 tip sizes
“Universal fit”
Colors White, black, red White White
Wireless charging case Optional

Battery life

Another leg up on AirPods is Beats Studio Buds featuring eight hours of battery life without active noise cancellation or transparency mode. If using either of those features, you still get a solid five hours. With the Beats Studio Buds charging case you get up to 24 hours of total playback, and you get the same fast charging as AirPods.

Beats Studio Buds AirPods Pro AirPods
Buds Up to 8 hours Up to 5 hours Up to 5 hours
Charging case 16 hours 19+ hours 19+ hours
Total with case 24 hours 24+ hours 24+ hours
15 min. charge = 3 hours of playback 3 hours of playback 3 hours of playback


Beats Studio Buds vs AirPods and AirPods Pro – features

Instead of using Apple’s W1 or H1 chip, the Beats Studio Buds use a custom chip that brings many of AirPods’ features but does skip a couple.

Specifically, you’re not getting auto device switching (between iPhone, iPad, Mac, etc.) and the new Beats also skip the ear-detection and auto-pause/play functionality. You do get Spatial Audio support, but not with head tracking like AirPods Pro.

Beats Studio Buds AirPods Pro AirPods
Ear-detection, auto-pause/play
Sweat and water-resistant
Track with Find My
Active noise cancellation (ANC)
Transparency mode
Spatial Audio ✅ without head tracking ✅ with head tracking ✅ without head tracking
Instant one-touch pairing
Auto device switching
“Hey Siri” support
Bluetooth 5.0


While Beats Studio Buds share many of the AirPods Pro features, they undercut them in price. While they’re $100 less when looking at the MSRP, it’s good to keep in mind that AirPods and AirPods Pro often sell for less than the suggested price.

Beats Studio Buds AirPods Pro AirPods
MSRP $149 $249 $159 and $199

Sound quality and performance

After reviewing the Beats Studio Buds, my colleague Chance found the sound quality “quite nice” but a bit less rich compared to AirPods Pro or Powerbeats Pro.

In practice, Beats Studio Buds sound quite nice, particularly for the modest $150 price point. In my testing, the Beats Studio Buds sound is not quite as rich and full as Powerbeats Pro or AirPods Pro. This isn’t necessarily surprising given the $100 price difference and the more compact design, but it’s something worth noting. The sound quality is similar, if not identical to, the entry-level AirPods…

I tend to prefer Transparency mode over Active Noise Cancellation in most situations, such as outdoors and out the gym, but this is very much a personal preference and not due to ANC being bad on the Beats Studio Buds. In fact, Active Noise Cancellation is particularly impressive because of the in-ear design.

Beats Studio Buds vs. AirPods wrap-up

If you like the stemless design, the option for black and red, and an in-ear fit with ANC, the Beats Studio Buds are a great way to get most of the AirPods/AirPods Pro features at a reasonable price. But that’s as long as you don’t mind missing out on a wireless charging case, auto device switching, and ear-detection/auto-pause and play.

Beats Studio Buds are available direct from Apple (in stock at various Apple Stores) as well as Amazon (currently out of stock).

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About the Author

Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.