Apples is giving its own AirPods Pro some competition with the new Beats Fit Pro. Features like ANC, spatial audio and cross-device use are all on board.
With the Beats Fit Pro, there are now more earbuds specially adapted for the Apple ecosystem – and the model aimed at sporty wearers also gets along with Android smartphones. Time for a closer look.
Battery lasts longer than promised
There are three listening modes: Active Noise Cancellation (“ANC”), “Off” and “Transparency” (with noise transmission). According to Beats, the batteries in the earbuds last for six hours with ANC, and the battery in the charging case should last for three more charges. In practice, the Fit Pro last even longer. And when the battery is low, five minutes of charging are enough for just under an hour of listening – the specifications are largely realistic.
The charging option with USB-C is a compromise. Android users practically all have this port by now, iPhone users would have to carry an extra cable. Wireless charging is not possible.
To connect, you flip open the box and the setup is offered on the iPhone display. This is done with a tap of the finger. Android users have to go to the Bluetooth settings and select the Beats Fit Pro there.
On the iPhone, the control options are integrated into the system – just like on other Apple headphones. On Android smartphones, the Studio Buds work best with the matching Beats app (from Android 7).
Once the wireless connection is established, it lasts. Outdoors, it easily lasts 30 meters, but in the apartment it sometimes goes mute after almost 15 meters and three walls (old building).
The earbuds also fit tightly during sports
Externally, the case of the Beats Fit Pro reminds us of a wedding ring box. Instead of just AirPods white, there are also the colors black, gray or purple. Inside are the earbuds with their distinctive “wingtips”. These are flexible rubber fins that are supposed to keep the Fit Pro firmly in the ear.
They hardly differ visually from the cheaper Studio Pro (149 Euros) – apart from the wingtips. But inside is Apple’s H1 chip (for pairing, transmission and signal processing), among other things, plus a sensor for wearer recognition.
Fit and comfort
The Beats Fit Pro can be adjusted to different ear sizes with silicone attachments and seal the ear canal. The silicone fits turn out comparatively large.
Wearing comfort is generally good, with the buds sitting firmly in the ear. That is also quite practical when you remember that Beats explicitly targets athletes with the Fit Pro. After all, no earplugs should fall out of the ear while jogging.
However, there is a slightly noticeable plugged ear effect and the wingtips press a bit in the ear cup when worn for longer periods. There is loud wind noise when cycling.
No tapping, no wiping, no squeezing: With Beats, you press buttons. That is much more pleasant than the touch controls of other earbuds. On the left, for example, for Siri or Google Assistant, and on the right for Start/Stop/Next/Back. Alternatively, you can turn the volume down or up. Unfortunately, you have to choose: Either audio control or volume control.
Like Apple’s Airpods, the Fit Pro can seamlessly switch between different (Apple) devices, and it also listens to “Hey Siri” without having to press a button. If you absolutely want to make a phone call while jogging: Here you go.
Effective noise cancelling
Dominant bass, otherwise balanced, full and without noticeable weaknesses – just like the Beats Studio Buds. As with the cheaper model, it sounds a little better and clearer than the Android smartphone in a direct comparison with a paired iPhone. However, the technically similar Airpods Pro sound a bit livelier in a direct comparison.
The Beats Fit Pro can handle Apple’s 3D sound Spatial Audio thanks to the H1 chip. This function can be used, for example, to reproduce the sound of movies on the Apple TV in relation to the listener’s head position. This works simply and reliably.
The active noise cancellation (ANC) is quite a board. Once activated, you hardly hear anything from the environment. Doorbells, bicycle bells – if you want to hear that, you better select the transparency mode. However, this transparency mode is far less sophisticated than in the Airpods Pro.
Sacrifices for Android users
As mentioned, Siri is on board for Apple users – directly via voice command and without pressing a button. Android users have to hold down the left button to activate their voice assistant.
There are a total of six microphones for use as a telephone headset, which also filter out background noise. In the everyday test, the user understands the conversation partners on the phone very well and is also understood well. If you lose the Beats Fit Pro, you can track it down via Apple’s “Where is” app.
Unfortunately, Android users have to do without a few features. Namely: Bluetooth Multipoint, seamless switching between multiple devices in use, voice assistant without pressing a button, tracking function, and 3D audio.
Alternative to the AirPods Pro
You’d like it to have all the features of the Airpods, but with a different form factor, please? That’s exactly what the Beats Fit Pro is. No stick, no white plastic. Otherwise, they have largely the same capabilities as Apple’s white earbuds and a bit more battery life. However, they have to take second place in terms of sound – quite subjectively.
However, the form factor actually makes them interesting for sports use. Nothing wobbles, nothing falls out of the ears. A practical side effect is that putting on and taking off the mask is no problem.
Beats wants just under 230 euros for the Fit Pro. For Apple users, it ultimately remains a question of taste. Sticks or wingtips? Android users have more choice. For example, Libratone’s Air+ (from 200 Euros), Jabra’s Elite 7 Active (around 180 Euros), Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 (just under 150 Euros) or even the in-house Beats Studio Pro without wingtips (just under 150 Euros).