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Beats by Dre headphones: Which model is best for you?

The Apple-owned brand offers true wireless headphones, wireless earbuds and wired headphones, as well as a portable Bluetooth speaker. Here's what to know before shopping.
showcasing beats headphones and speakers
You can find Beats by Dre on Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target, QVC, Kohl’s, Staples and other retailers, as well as directly through Apple, of course.Beats

With increased time spent working from home, students navigating virtual learning and exercising indoors now that the Fall weather is here, sporting a pair of comfy and stylish headphones might help you stay focused while powering through your day. One popular tech brand is Beats by Dre, which was co-founded in 2006 by rapper and producer Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, who happens to also be the co-founder of Interscope Records.

The brand used to have two subdivisions: Beats Music, a streaming service that was discontinued once Apple launched Apple Music in 2015 and Beats Electronics, which currently offers nine audio devices, including headphones, earphones and a Bluetooth portable speaker. In 2014, eight years after the line’s inception, Apple bought Beats for a reported $3 billion — yup, billion with a “B.” NBC News previously reported this acquisition was Apple’s largest deal ever. The brand’s second-largest deal was in 2019, when it acquired Intel's wireless chip for $1 billion. Apple’s clean and minimal vibe contrasts the vibrant and celebrity-driven Beats aesthetic. Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne had previously launched limited-edition Beats products and the brand has featured everyone from Lebron James and Serena Williams to Big Sean and Billie Eilish in ads.

Beats, which is known for its colorful style and functional gadgets, was previously featured in our guide to true wireless earbuds and our friends at NBC BETTER included it in their fitness pro-approved list of the best workout headphones and earbuds. Additionally, you can find Beats by Dre on Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target, QVC, Kohl’s, Staples and other retailers, as well as directly through Apple, of course.

Beats by Dre brand guide

To help inform your next potential tech purchase, we put together a brief overview of Beats headphones, earphones and that speaker with an eye toward how each may work best with your budget, needs and lifestyle.

Beats wireless earphones

1. Powerbeats Pro

If you live an active lifestyle or tend to sweat easily, consider the Powerbeats Pro, wireless earphones that are both sweat- and water-resistant, according to Beats. They offer up to nine hours of listening time and equip the brand’s Fast Fuel technology, allowing you to charge your earphones for a short amount of time: Five minutes of charge time offers up to one-and-a-half hours of playtime, and a 15-minute charge allows up to four-and-a-half hours of use. These true wireless Bluetooth earphones utilize the Apple W1 chip to automatically pair your other iOS devices logged into the same iCloud account, such as your iPhone, MacBook and iPad. These are Siri voice-activated, too, so you don't have to reach for your smartphone to use that hands-free feature to change your songs or dial your phone. You can also use these earphones whether you use Android smartphones or iOS devices. The Power Beats Pro has been available in five core colors — Ivory, Moss, Navy, Black and Lava Red — and three new colors as of June 2020: Cloud Pink, Spring Yellow, Glacier Blue.

2. Powerbeats

Powerbeats is the brand's entry-level wireless earphones and costs about $100 less than the Powerbeats Pro. The Powerbeats Pro are true wireless earbuds with no wires while the Powerbeats have an ergonomic curved wire that fits around your neck. Style-wise, the Powerbeats are only available in three colors — Black, White and Red — while the Pro is available in eight options. These earphones are still functional — from offering 15 hours of battery life to quick pairing and access to Siri. The Powerbeats is Bluetooth-enabled, employs Fast Fuel technology, too — a five-minute charge equates to one hour of playtime in this model — and you can control playback directly on your earbuds. Your Powerbeats will show up with four differently sized ear tips so you can customize the fit, a USB-A charging cable and a case for easy travel.

Beats wireless headphones

3. Beats Solo³ Wireless

The Beats Solo³ wireless on-ear headphones feature 360-degree pivoting ear cups, employs Bluetooth technology and has a battery lasting up to 40 hours. If you like to drain your battery to the last drop, then take advantage of Fast Fuel technology, which in this models ups the ante further: Three hours of use after five minutes of charge time. These headphones use on-ear controls — adjust the volume, activate Siri and skip songs — and make for convenient phone calls using the built-in microphone. Additionally, like the other Beats headphones, the Solo³ features the Apple W1 chip to easily pair with your iOS devices. The Solo³ is available in nine colorways, including Matte Black, Satin Gold, Satin Silver, Rose Gold, Red, Club White, Club Yellow, Club Red and Club Navy.

4. Solo Pro Noise-Canceling headphones

The Beats Solo Pro is an on-ear headphone with Active Noise Canceling (ANC) technology, meaning it can help block ambient noise, making it particularly helpful for frequent travelers or those working in louder work-from-home environments. It is wireless and designed for long-wear and comfort with on-ear cushions. When ANC is turned on, you get up to 22 hours of battery life, and when it’s off, 40 hours of charge. These headphones also equips the brand’s Fast Fuel technology, offering 3 hours of playback for 10 minutes of charge time. The Solo Pro is compatible with iOS and Android devices, uses an Apple H1 chip and turns on when unfolded and off when folded. The Solo Pro headphones are available in five colors: Black, Grey, Ivory, Dark Blue, Light Blue and Red.

5. Studio3 Wireless Headphones

The top-of-the-line Beats product is the Studio 3 wireless over-ear headphones with noise-canceling technology. According to Beats, the ANC and ergonomically-designed headphones use an algorithm to monitor your environment and subsequently better block ambient noise. The Studio3 headphones have cushiony earpads for additional comfort and are available in nine colors, ranging from Black and Red to Sand Dune and Forest Green (the latter from the Camo Collection). If you use an Android phone, you can still rock the Studio3 headphones. However, iPhone users can take advantage of the built-in Apple W1 chip, which allows for quick syncing with other Apple devices. When ANC is turned on, you get up to 22 hours of wireless play — if you turn ANC off manually, which you can do right on the earcup, you'll have 40 hours of low power mode playback. Like with the other Beats by Dre headphones, the Studio3 wireless has Fast Fuel technology — 10 minutes of charge equates to three hours of use — and you can use the on-ear controls to use Siri, skip songs, turn up and turn down the volume plus make phone calls.

6. BeatsX

The BeatsX wireless earphones cost just under $100, offer eight hours of use, and are lightweight and flexible. Beyond the Apple W1 chip, Bluetooth and Fast Fuel technologies — a five-minute charge equals two hours of playback — the Beats X boasts RemoteTalk, which is how you can hop on calls, play music and use Siri hands-free. They are available in three colors — Satin Silver, Black and Defiant Black-Red — and are magnetic, which helps keep your earphones from tangling up.

Beats wired headphones and earbuds

7. Beats EP

If you prefer on-ear headphones, consider adding the Beats EP to your shopping cart. They are lightweight wired headphones reinforced with stainless steel, which helps with durability, according to Beats. The biggest difference between the wired Beats EP and the similar-looking wireless Solo³ Wireless is that the Beats EP are battery-free so you have unlimited playtime to listen to your workout playlists, podcasts, Netflix queue and more. You can also adjust these headphones with vertical sliders for a custom fit, use RemoteTalk for hands-free phone calls, and listen to music. The Beats EP is available in four colors: White, Blue, Red and Black.

8. urBeats3 with lightning connector

The urBeats3 are the entry-level Beats wired earbuds and feature dual-chamber acoustics, which the brand claims will "synchronize sound" and "provide natural tonality" when listening to music. Beats says their magnetic earbuds are ergonomic and feature a flat cable, which is tangle-proof. Additionally, these earbuds come with a few ear tip options so you can help customize your fit and RemoteTalk for hands-free use — from playing music to activating Siri and taking phone calls. The urBeats3 is available in six colors, ranging from vibrant hues like Yellow and Coral to neutral Blue and Black, as well as Satin Gold and Satin Silver.

Beats speaker

9. Beats Pill+

Beats is mainly known for its headphones and earbuds, but the company currently offers the Beats Pill+, a wireless Bluetooth portable speaker with up to 12 hours of battery life. You can use the speaker while watching movies on your outdoor projector screen, toss it in your beach bag for music on-the-go or take phone calls. The Pill+ speaker also doubles as a portable smartphone charger to keep your gadgets juiced up when you're not near an outlet. If you download the app, you can let your friends connect to the Beats Pill+ so they can take a turn DJing your socially-distant outdoor picnic. It is available in three colors: Black, White and Product (Red) — 100 percent of the proceeds from sales of Product (Red) products are donated to HIV/AIDS programs in sub‑Saharan Africa, according to Apple.

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