Beats were taken over by Apple in 2014, and this brought about a bunch of interesting things in terms of the products available. As Apple continues to develop its brand and products, it also needs to pay attention to the Beats brand. Both of these brands often compete in the same area of the market. Yet, they offer different approaches to wireless earbuds.
Since the 2014 takeover by Apple, we often see Apple products competing with other Apple products. One of the fiercest is between first-generation Apple AirPods and Studio Buds by Beats. So, let’s find out all about it in my in-depth Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation) vs Beats Studio Buds comparison.
Initially, users were convinced that the Studio Beats were just a poor effort at competing with the world’s favorite Apple AirPods. The two sets of earbuds were seen as not in the same league at all. After the original AirPods Pro had a price drop, things changed.
These two earbuds now occupy a very similar place in the market…
And, as far as features and quality are concerned, they are very close to one another. It might be difficult for the modern user to determine if Apple AirPods Pro is better than Beats Studio Buds or vice-versa.
In this article, I’ll give you a comprehensive Gen 1 AirPods Pro and Beats Studio Buds head-to-head comparison. That way, you can more easily determine which one will best suit your needs.
Design and Build
Starting with the design, we find the most apparent difference between Beats Studio Buds and AirPods Pro. The Beats Studio Buds are more colorful than the AirPods. They are available in white, black, red, moon grey, pink, and ocean blue. The paint job on the Beats Studio Buds is uniform and covers the case, earbuds, and silicone ear tips.
The Studio Buds don’t have protruding stems like the AirPods. This makes for a sleeker look while wearing and reduces their weight. Each earbud weighs around 5 grams, making them almost unnoticeable.
On the other hand…
The first-generation AirPods Pro is available only in white. They are a bit larger and heavier than the Studio Buds. But the well-balanced design makes them just as comfortable and secure.
Both of these models come with an IPX4 rating. This means you can work up a sweat in the gym or catch a few drops of rain while out on a run without any worries. The AirPods Pro and the Studio Buds come with small, medium, and large silicone ear tips to help you find the right fit.
There are small indentations on the outside of the stems on the Airpods Pro. This is where the touch controls are located. They control media playback, ANC and Transparency modes, and Apple’s voice assistant, Siri. The touch controls are customizable, but only when the AirPods Pro is used with an iOS device.
Once activated, Siri can be used for multiple functions by using simple voice commands. All you have to do is say, “Hey, Siri,” followed by your request.
The AirPods Pro is also equipped with in-ear detection. This feature will automatically pause and resume playback when you remove or replace the earbuds. Like the touch control customization, this feature is only available to iOS users.
So, what about the Beats earbuds?
The Studio Buds do not feature in-ear detection and have a good old-fashioned button on each earbud instead of touch controls. You can also use Siri to perform certain functions when paired with Apple devices.
The buttons can be customized whether you’re using an Android or iOS device. But, one downside is that volume control is not available as an option. This means that only volume can be controlled using the “Hey Siri” command.
Apple vs. Android and Windows Devices
For users with Apple devices, the AirPods Pro is likely to be the better choice. Thanks to Apple’s H1 chip, the AirPods Pro will automatically link to all the devices that are registered on your iCloud account. As soon as the earbuds have been added, they can be controlled via the control center on any one of your Apple devices.
From within the iOS settings menu, you can take the fit test, activate Spatial Audio, and seamlessly switch between your various Apple devices without the need to re-pair.
When the AirPods Pro is paired with an Android or Windows device…
They become severely limited in terms of customization and device integration. Luckily, the ANC and Transparency modes are controlled using simple presses on the stems of the earbuds. So, the same level of control applies there.
Unfortunately, there is no quick pairing when using the AirPods Pro with an Android or Windows device. And, while the touch controls are still customizable, the available options are far fewer.
Is it the same for the Beats earbuds?
The Studio Buds are by far Apple’s best effort at being more compatible with Android devices. Thanks to the dedicated Beats App, users have access to comprehensive customization options and features, including quick pairing and location tracking.
Initially, Studio Buds did not support iCloud integration for Apple users. Thankfully, this was remedied with a firmware update. Now, the Studio Buds can be linked with all your Apple devices via iCloud, just like the AirPods Pro.
First things first. Neither of these earbuds is marketed as professional-grade when it comes to the mic and call quality. So, don’t expect to use them for high-quality conference calls or podcasting.
That said, the AirPods Pro is the clear winner when it comes to voice quality. And by a noticeable margin. That’s not to say the Studio Buds are bad, just that the AirPods Pro is better. But both of these mic systems are more than adequate for everyday use in different environments.
Connectivity and Codecs
Both earbud models support the standard lossy formats, namely, SBC and AAC. For more consistent performance on Apple devices, it’s better to stick to the AAC format. Neither of the models supports High-Res codecs like LDAC or aptX. However, there is a possibility that a future firmware update will introduce LC3 support for the Studio Buds. That is because it uses Bluetooth 5.2.
The AirPods Pro, on the other hand, is equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, which means LC3 support is out of the question. That being said, the AAC format delivers about the same quality as LC3.
Battery Life and Charging
The AirPods Pro has an ever so slight advantage when it comes to battery performance. With the ANC turned on, the AirPods Pro delivers just over five hours of playtime. The Studio Buds can do around four and a half hours under the same conditions.
With the charging case at full capacity, the AirPods Pro will go for almost 24 hours. Conversely, the Studio Buds is limited to about 13 hours. Furthermore, the AirPods Pro can charge wirelessly or via a lightning cable, while the Studio Buds can only charge using a USB-C cable. So, that’s one clear advantage of 1st generation AirPods Pro over Beats Studio Buds.
Noise-canceling is another area where AirPods Pro outperforms Beats Studio Buds, but only slightly. The majority of unwanted, everyday noises that users would want to eliminate (engine noise, people talking, the wind) are located in the 100Hz – 1000Hz range. First-generation AirPods Pro can reduce noise in this range by up to 50%.
In contrast, Studio Buds target ambient noises that are located below 1000Hz and can reduce them by about 25%. In terms of passive isolation, the Studio Buds create a slightly better seal than the Airpods Pro. This means that with the ANC turned off, the Studio Buds will more effectively block out the outside world.
In keeping with the Beats brand, the Studio Buds deliver a scooped sound signature with a noticeable boost in the sub-bass and treble frequencies. Many users will prefer this. Especially bass heads and EDM lovers.
But, if you want the vocals to shine, then the AirPods Pro is going to deliver a more pleasing sound. This is due to the much fuller mid-range and more traditionally balanced overall sound signature.
Sadly, neither of these earbuds offers an EQ option. Therefore, users will have to decide which sound profile is more suited to their rates. Additionally, you can explore third-party EQs.
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation) vs Beats Studio Buds vs AirPods Pro 2nd Generation
If you can afford it, then getting a pair of 2nd generation AirPods Pro would be better than the other two options. The biggest advantage of the 2nd generation Apple AirPods Pro is the improved H2 chip. Thanks to this chip, the 2nd generation AirPods Pro has superior noise-canceling, connectivity, and improved power consumption.
Furthermore, the 2nd generation AirPods Pro comes with more ear-tips. This gives users more choices in terms of finding the right fit. The touch controls are also updated to include sliding gestures, allowing for more variety in terms of control.
The charging case is also superior to the other two. It’s a MegaSafe case which is more robust. It features a U1 chip for improved charging and power usage. The improved chip also allows for more efficient tracking when using the Find My app. And the case has a louder speaker so that you can more easily find it by using the noise maker feature.
For battery life and charging…
The 2nd generation AirPods Pro outperforms the other two. They can be charged wirelessly as well as with a lightning cable. What’s more, it is more versatile in terms of sound quality. There is less distortion at high levels. And, while there is still no custom EQ, the profiles provided by Apple make much more of a difference than with the first generation.
Finally, the microphone of the AirPods Pro 2nd generation is much better than the Studio Buds and the 1st generation AirPods Pro. The superior microphone makes for better call quality. As well as improved efficiency when using your voice assistant. It comes in at around $230. In the long run, though, you will be getting better value for money.
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation) vs Beats Studio Buds – Frequently Asked Questions
Should I consider getting the 3rd Generation Apple AirPods?
If your budget will allow it, the 3rd generation standard Apple AirPods are also an alternative. But they don’t stack up well against the 1st generation AirPods Pro or the Studio Buds.
The 3rd generation AirPods do not have ANC, and they have less variety in available ear tip sizes. This dramatically reduces call and sound quality. Furthermore, Gen 3 AirPods perform less consistently across multiple devices. For users who commute a lot, the lack of noise-canceling will render them almost unusable in certain environments.
What About the Beats Fit Pro?
The Beats Fit Pro is also an alternative to consider for users who have a larger budget and don’t want to buy a pair of AirPods. They ship with wing tips that come in various sizes. These wingtips make for a much more secure fit than any of the other models I’ve mentioned.
There are also some more premium features like Spatial Audio and premium-level noise-canceling. Additionally, the sound signature will be very appealing to bass heads. The Beats Fit Pro comes in at around $200.
How Do I Update the Firmware on the AirPods Pro and the Beats Studio Buds?
Users with Apple devices don’t have to worry about updates. They will automatically happen via the over-the-air feature. Android users can update the Beats Studio Buds from within the Beats Companion App.
Need More Information About Apple and Beats Products?
Well, have a look at our comprehensive articles on Apple AirPods vs Powerbeats Pro, Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) vs Beats Fit Pro, AirPods Pro vs Beats Powerbeats Pro, What’s The Difference Between AirPods 1 and 2, AirPods Connected But No Sound, and How to Make Your AirPods Louder for more helpful tips and advice.
Also, make sure you check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Beats Headphones, the Best AirPods Alternative, the Best iPhone Earbuds, the Best Apple AirPods Pro Alternatives, the Best Lightning Headphones for iPhone & iPad, the Best True Wireless Earbuds, as well as the Best Wireless Earbuds For Small Ears that you can buy in 2023.
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation) vs Beats Studio Buds – Final Thoughts
So, which is the better buy?
For Android users, this one is an easy choice. The Studio Buds are more affordable, perform better, and offer nearly all the functionality that Apple users get with AirPods. Since AirPods are a bit more expensive and are very limited when used with a non-Apple device, they make no sense for Android users.
For Apple users, the answer is more open-ended. In terms of performance, battery life, and functionality, AirPods are the better choice. The first-generation buds are going for less than $200 these days. So, justifying the price isn’t as hard as it used to be.
If you have an Apple device, but you’re not too bothered about bells and whistles, such as Spatial Audio and wireless charging, then the Studio Buds might be worth a look. Ultimately, deciding the winner of a Beats Studio Buds vs Apple Gen 1 AirPods Pro comparison will be up to you.
Until next time, happy listening.