Since Apple took over the Beats by Dre empire, Beats' popular earbuds lineup has undergone some serious changes. The latest models, the Beats Studio Buds and Beats Fit Pro, have shed the famous hook shape of the Powerbeats era for more traditional—and yet wholly original—earbud designs.
In the process, Apple has toned down the bass-heavy Beats sound, integrated its brilliantly simple iOS functionality for seamless use with iPhones and other Apple devices, and added modern features like noise cancellation. All this makes these latest Beats models the brand's best yet. But there are some major differences between these two pairs. Below we compare the Beats Studio Buds and Beats Fit Pro in multiple categories so you can get everything you need—and nothing you don’t.
This is the most obvious reason to get the Beats Studio Buds over the Fit Pro. With a $149.95 MSRP, the Studio Buds are a great mid-range option, saving you money while still offering plenty of reasons to grab them. In fact, when they launched ahead of the new AirPods 3 last summer, I dubbed them the AirPods Apple fans had been waiting for (and that's probably still the case).
While there are plenty of reasons to get the Beats Fit Pro, their $199.95 launch price is a significant enough upcharge to give the rest of these categories a slant—especially given that, at the time of publication, you can pick up the Beats Studio Buds for a serious deal on sale.
Our pick: Beats Studio Buds
Design and fit
Pricing may be the only easy win for the Studio Buds, but it’s not for a lack of some great design and features for your money. While the fit isn’t the most stable in the business—meaning they’re not the best for workouts, especially if your ears get sweaty—their unique design is an exercise in slick minimalism.
The buds are shaped into little switches at the end which makes them incredibly easy to put in and take out of your ears and their included charging case. The buttons on the ends are also incredibly easy to accidentally tap, which means I’ve prematurely ended more than a couple of phone calls. Still, they’re just so simple and easy to use, I find myself reaching for them often, whether it’s taking a call or grabbing a single bud for a podcast while I walk the dog.
The Beats Fit Pro offer among the best fit in their class thanks to their own unique design that incorporates a small fin and an easily accessible control key at the exterior. Alongside multiple ear tip choices, the Beats Fit Pro are equally as comfortable and stable for your workday as your workout. I mean, they’re called the “Fit” for a reason.
Still, there’s just something about the Studio Buds. I can’t get over how fun and easy it is to use them, even though they’re admittedly not as versatile or as stable in my ears as the Fit Pro. Surprising even myself, this one is too close to call.
Our pick: Draw
Features and controls
Each of the latest Beats buds have drawn a deep bucket from the Apple well, incorporating a ton of features from the Apple ecosystem to make them exceedingly easy to use with Apple devices. And, unlike Apple branded products, each also comes with a separate app for Android phones, making them much more suitable for those prone to bounce between mobile clans. There are some major differences, though, which could be one of the biggest factors in choosing the pricier buds.
I’ll start with the similarities:
- Fast charging: 5 minutes of charging for an hour of playback
- Ambient sound modes: Adaptive ANC, Transparency Mode
- Audio codecs: AAC, SBC
- Apple features: Hands-free Siri, Find My earbuds tracker, one-touch pairing for iPhone and Android devices, Audio Sharing
It’s a good start, and each pair of earbuds makes its bones on simplicity first and foremost. But the Beats Fit Pro take a harder turn toward Apple Valhalla thanks in large part to the H1 chip. This allows for Automatic Switching between Apple devices, as well as Spatial Audio w/ Dynamic Head Tracking. The latter features may become increasingly attractive as more music and visual media creators begin to utilize “3D sound” mixes to immerse you in your content.
As for controls, each pair offers a single-button, mirrored control system on either side of your ears. Both sets allow you to play/pause, skip forward and backward, and control calls with a series of taps, while a long press swaps between active noise canceling, ambient audio, and off (or alternatively calls up voice assistants for Android users).
But the Beats Fit Pro also allow you to customize what holding the buttons does, whether that means jumping between ANC/transparency mode or controlling volume, a first from Apple.
Our pick: Beats Fit Pro
Noise canceling often taxes earbuds battery life, and that’s the case for each of these buds. With ANC engaged, the Beats Studio get five total hours, while the Beats Fit Pro can get up to six. Neither of these playback times are what we’d call “next-gen” battery, but the Fit Pro’s six hours outdoes the pricier AirPods Pro and a few other options like Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro.
Interestingly, the Beats Studio use less juice than their sibling without noise cancellation, pulling right around eight hours max under optimal conditions to the Beats Fit Pro’s seven hours. However, the Fit Pro can get you up to 27 hours with the case, while the Studio top out at 24 hours total, and only offer 15 hours of total juice with noise canceling.
Our pick: Beats Fit Pro
Audio performance and noise canceling
The Beats Studio do a solid job with audio performance and noise canceling, especially considering that active noise canceling at their price class is still far from a given. We noted in testing that their dynamic noise cancellation comes in handy when revving up sounds like a noisey leaf blower. The sound signature is clear and relatively detailed, especially great for acoustic music. Their upper register can sometimes be a bit thin and I wish they had a bit more upper bass response as well, which isn’t something I’d expect in Beats earbuds, but this is definitely the new class.
The Beats Fit Pro step above the Studio Buds with noise cancellation that’s as good or better than what you’ll get from Apple’s AirPods Pro and plenty of other flagship pairs. They also offer richer, more detailed sound than the Studio Buds, as well as extras like Spatial Audio for more immersive sound from supported content. They top things off with excellent call quality, standing close to what you’ll get from, you guessed it, the AirPods Pro.
Our pick: Beats Fit Pro
And the winner is …
From a pure performance and features standpoint, the Beats Fit Pro are the obvious choice. In fact, they’re so good that we now recommend them as the best buds for iPhone users, even beating out the indomitable AirPods Pro.
That said, the Beats Studio Buds are an excellent value—especially on sale—giving you a solid spread of features you’ll find in flagship buds at a much lower price. If you’re looking to save money and aren’t necessarily hung up on top-tier features and performance, the Beats Studio are seriously enticing. The main caveat there is if you're looking for workout buds, in which case we'd still point you to the Fit Pro. Either way, both models stand as our favorites from the brand to date, making each pair a great deal in its own right.