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AirPods vs. Powerbeats3: Which Apple W1 headphones are better for working out and exercising?

Apple now has four pairs of headphones on the market with its proprietary W1 wireless chip, allowing for simpler Bluetooth pairing and better connectivity. But only two of those headphones are really well suited for workouts: Apple's AirPods and the Powerbeats3. AppleInsider helps you decide which pair is right for you.




If you want one pair of headphones for both the gym and daily use, choose AirPods



For most users, Apple's AirPods are going to be the best choice.

For starters, they're cheaper. At $159, the AirPods are a full $40 less expensive than the Powerbeats3.

And with a more compact design and more advanced technology, the pricing on AirPods feels like a steal when stacked against the overpriced $200 Powerbeats3.




The portability and versatility of AirPods also make them better suited for daily use across a variety of tasks. The AirPods may not be the absolute best headphones you can buy for working out, but they are one of the best all-around pairs of headphones we've ever used.

If you want one pair of headphones you can take to work, use on the train, use at the gym, and easily carry in your pocket, AirPods are your best multi-purpose pair.




Finally, AirPods also have the advantage of being completely wireless. While Powerbeats3 are a comfortable fit, the cord connecting the headphones can stick to clothes or skin, causing earpieces to get yanked out of position. You won't have that problem with Apple's AirPods.

Of course, that doesn't mean AirPods are the right fit for everyone. While we think AirPods are the best option for most athletes, there are a few reasons why some may choose Powerbeats3 instead.

If you're an outdoor runner, a distance runner, or a serious gym rat, choose Powerbeats3



While still boasting the same W1 wireless technology, a larger form factor and wired connection between earpieces gives Apple's Powerbeats3 an impressive 12 hours of battery life.




Because their design focuses instead on portability, AirPods cannot compete on a single charge.

That's not to say the battery life on AirPods is poor.

You'll get up to 5 hours of battery life with AirPods —which can be extended to more than 24 hours with the charging case accessory. And quick-charge capabilities give AirPods 3 hours of uptime on just a 15-minute charge.

But perhaps you use your headphones on the way to the gym, or you're the type of athlete who does two-a-days, or you're a marathon runner. Mix in regular daily headphone use, and the up-to-5-hours of battery life on AirPods may not be enough.




For many in those situations, recharging headphones is not an option. And with AirPods, many may not even want to bring the carrying case with them, especially on an outdoor run. For those users, Powerbeats3 is the winner.

Apple's Powerbeats3 also have an around-the-ear clip design that makes them more secure than AirPods. If you're engaging in rigorous activity, the confidence that Powerbeats3 will stay attached to your ear in virtually any situation may make them a better option for you.

To be clear, despite our own concerns about AirPods falling out, we have never had one of the earpieces unexpectedly drop out of our ears, even while working out. But it's still a distinct possibility with the ultralight, minimalist design of AirPods—  something that, conversely, is basically impossible to happen with the design of the Powerbeats3.




Finally, we should note that while Apple touts water and sweat resistance with the Powerbeats3, it makes no such claims about AirPods. However, independent torture tests have found AirPods to be virtually indestructible, even when submersed in water.

Still, taken at face value, Apple's marketing would suggest that Powerbeats3 are better designed to handle sweat, rain, and anything else you might throw at them.

While we think most users will be fine with AirPods for gym, work and play, dedicated gym goers, weight lifters and distance runners will probably prefer the Powerbeats3. If you take your workouts very seriously, you can probably justify a serious workout-focused headphone.

No matter which you choose, you can't go wrong



Here's the good news: Apple's current lineup is the best range of wireless headphones any company has ever produced. The proprietary W1 chip is a revelation.

Even if you want to work out with one of Apple's other W1-equipped headphones — the Beats Solo 3 or BeatsX—  you'll gain numerous benefits over conventional Bluetooth headphones, including easier pairing, longer battery life and more reliable connectivity.




Still, for workouts, AirPods and Powerbeats3 are your best W1 options. The resting neck strap design of BeatsX is not likely secure enough for rigorous activity, while the over-ear style of the Beats Solo 3 is not exactly sweat friendly.

It's good to have options, and with four quality W1-powered wireless headphones on the market, consumers have a range of options that suit very different needs. When there are no bad choices, everybody wins.

Get active, go wireless, and don't look back.



Where to buy



With Apple reporting a six-week wait for AirPods, the wireless earphones can be pre-ordered from AppleInsider partners B&H and Adorama with free shipping and no sales tax on orders shipped outside NY and NJ*. Powerbeats3 Wireless In-Ear Headphones, on the other hand, are currently in stock at a variety of retailers with discounts of up to $50 off with free shipping. For a complete list of headphones, deals and availability, please visit our iPhone Accessories Price Guide.

AirPods
AirPods for $159.00 @Adorama * (No tax outside NY & NJ)
AirPods for $159.00 @B&H * (No tax outside NY & NJ)
* Adorama and B&H will not collect sales tax on orders shipped outside NY and NJ.

Powerbeats3 Wireless
Powerbeats3 Wireless in Black for Price hidden @B&H * ($50 off + no tax outside NY & NJ)
Powerbeats3 Wireless in Black for Price hidden @Amazon ($50 off)
Powerbeats3 Wireless in Black for $199.95 @Adorama * (No tax outside NY & NJ)
Powerbeats3 Wireless in White for Price hidden @B&H * ($30 off + no tax outside NY & NJ)
Powerbeats3 Wireless in White for $199.95 @Adorama * (No tax outside NY & NJ)
Powerbeats3 Wireless in Flash Blue for Price hidden @B&H * ($40 off + no tax outside NY & NJ)
Powerbeats3 Wireless in Flash Blue for Price hidden @Amazon ($22 off)
Powerbeats3 Wireless in Flash Blue for $199.95 @Adorama * (No tax outside NY & NJ)
Powerbeats3 Wireless in Shock Yellow for Price hidden @B&H * ($40 off + no tax outside NY & NJ)
Powerbeats3 Wireless in Shock Yellow for $199.95 @Adorama * (No tax outside NY & NJ)
Powerbeats3 Wireless in Siren Red for $198.46 @B&H * (No tax outside NY & NJ)
Powerbeats3 Wireless in Siren Red for $199.95 @Adorama * (No tax outside NY & NJ)
* Adorama and B&H will not collect sales tax on orders shipped outside NY and NJ.