A solid fit and fun, bassy sound delivery should be enough to please most fitness fanatics.
The Powerbeats3 wireless earbuds from Apple, are headphones specifically designed with exercise in mind. When this line made its debut back in 2016, they were initially very popular. Since then, Apple has released the completely wireless Powerbeats Pro (no wire between the earbuds), and rival brands have really stepped up their game.
As a result, Apple has dropped its original asking price by over half to keep the Powerbeats3 competitive. The question is, are they still worth looking at in such a packed market place? At the original price, no. At the reduced price, yes, there is still value to be found in Beats flagship earbuds.
What’s In The box?
The Powerbeats3 arrive in a sturdy red and black box. Once you’ve figured out how to open the thing, you’ll find the basic accessories, which include four sets of different sized ear tips, a USB charging cable, an instruction booklet, and a selection of Beats stickers.
A rubberized carry case is also included, although it doesn’t look like it would offer to much protection from drops. Still, somewhere to keep them when they’re not being used is always a good thing.
Design & Build
Apple has stuck to the same design style as previous models for the Powerbeats3. The earbuds are attached to oblong housing, which is then held in place on your ear with adjustable rubberized hooks. A flexible cable, which can be tightened, links the two earphones.
We initially found that the ear hooks were too wide and were prone to coming loose under duress. But after a little experimentation, we narrowed the angle and found a suitable fit. Another slight issue was that once you’ve found the right angle, the pressure of the hooks against your outer ear can sometimes push the buds out slightly, creating issues with noise isolation.
However, once we found the correct ear tips from the range supplied (we liked the flanged ones), this was much less of a problem. Overall the Powerbeats3 stand up well to the rigors of even the most extreme workouts, and once the correct fit is achieved, it should stay in place well.
The power button sits on top of one of the oblong housing units, and if you didn’t know it was there, it isn’t the easiest to locate. As it’s not raised from the housing, with gloves on, it can be tricky to locate. More of a stab in the dark, really. The inline remote, on the other hand, is easy to use with pronounced buttons, making it very easy to handle volume changes, track skipping, and phone calls without any fuss.
As with most Apple products, the overall build quality feels premium and well made.
Apple has employed its W1 chip here, making pairing with any iOS device extremely easy. In fact, you only need to pair once with a single device, for your Powerbeats to be synced with all your Apple devices via your iCloud account. Pretty convenient, to say the least.
Pairing with Android devices wasn’t quite so straightforward, and there was the occasional issue where a connection had supposedly been made but with no music forthcoming. This was sorted out by unpairing and trying again, but it would be annoying if it was a regular problem.
Once paired, though, the range seemed to be very good, allowing uninterrupted use further away from the phone than we would normally expect.
As we’re all probably aware of by now, Beats headphones historically focus on bass reproduction above everything else. The good news is that since Apple took over, more attention has been paid to the subtler parts of the frequency range. So whilst the Powerbeats3 are bass orientated earphones, the mids and trebles are afforded room too.
To be honest, an emphasis on bass compliments a lot of the musical genres that people like to listen to when exercising, so this setup will work just fine for most listeners.
Vocals sound a lot smoother now that the bass isn’t the only focus and details that were previously swamped, have now been afforded space to shine through. Beats headphones are no longer the reserve of hip-hop and EDM fans only, even though bass is still the predominant effect.
Volume levels have been lowered slightly from the previous model, which will receive mixed reactions. The Powerbeats2 really went to number 11 and could frankly be considered a danger to your hearing, so this is a sensible development for us. Those that like their tunes at ear-splitting levels would probably disagree with this assessment.
This is one of the most impressive features of the Powerbeats3. The battery life is outstanding. On a full charge, you’ll get 12 hours of continuous use from these earphones, which is right at the top of the list when it comes to the competition. With a workout and daily commute thrown in, most listeners will get 4-5 days use out of these before needing a recharge.
A micro-USB port is used for charging, which is unusual for an Apple product. This means you’re not reliant on an Apple specific lead, giving you the option to cheaply replace it if lost.
Charging time is also impressive taking 2 hours to reach full power. A quick 5-minute charge will also give you an hours play, great for those times you forgot to charge before leaving the house.
As with all in ear headphones, especially those designed for exercise, longevity can be an issue. Excessive sweating can cause earphones to malfunction, although Apple claims these to be sweat and rain resistant.
However, there are a slightly worrying number of users who have reported their Powerbeats3 malfunctioning after a few months for no discernable reason. Apple provides a 1-year warranty and will replace any faltering units, although most people report being sent a refurbished replacement rather than a new model.
The wired connection between the earbuds also gives us pause for thought. There are many truly wireless earphones on the market now, including Apples Powerbeats Pro. Where you won’t have to worry about any eventual wire connection issues that could mean having to shell out for a new set.
But overall, the build quality looks sturdy enough to last an acceptable length of time.
Are There Better Alternatives?
If you want a similarly priced set of earbuds with a more sophisticated sound, that are also designed with sport in mind, then the Forza Metallo Wireless earbuds from V-Moda spring to mind. They arguably don’t have the same level of stability when exercising. But the sound is good enough to use for recreational listening too.
For a good pair of truly wireless buds, look no further than the Jabra Elite Active 65.
It might also be worth checking out our reviews of the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Most Durable Earbuds, the Most Comfortable Earbuds, the Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds, and the Best Headphones and Earbuds for Sleeping currently available.
Powerbeats3 Wireless In-Ear Headphone Pros & Cons
- Solid fit for working out.
- Great battery life.
- Long Bluetooth range.
- Improved sound quality.
- Connectivity with Apple devices.
- Still a little bass-heavy.
- Reliability debatable.
- Not a major improvement on the previous model.
Overall, the Powerbeats3 Wireless In-Ear headphones do an admirable job of what they were designed to do, which is enhance your workout. The bass-heavy sound is suitable for pushing yourself during exercise. And once you’ve achieved the right fit, are damn near impossible to dislodge.
Form and function wise, there is very little to complain about. Especially if you are using them in conjunction with other Apple devices. The battery life is a real selling point and still better than most of the competition.
At the original retail price, we would have trouble recommending the Powerbeats3. But as Apple has recently slashed the price in half, they now represent reasonable value for money.
However, if budget isn’t a concern and you want an Apple Beats product. You’d be well advised to take a look at the more recent Powerbeats Pro. It’s a truly wireless model that has a significantly more attractive sound signature. And is also the reason why Apple has dropped the price of the Powerbeats3 so drastically.