AirPods vs. BeatsX: Which W1-Enabled Wireless Headphones Should You Buy?

BY George Tinari

Published 15 Feb 2017

Image credit: Apple/Beats

The BeatsX wireless headphones have finally arrived. They’re one of the few headphones in existence that include Apple’s W1 chip in them for fast pairing to your devices, iCloud support, and solid battery life. But Apple’s signature W1 earphones also recently came out, the Apple AirPods.

The two are similarly priced and are both technically made by Apple, yet take largely different approaches to wireless audio. So which one should you get? We’re going to help you make that decision.


For two headphones that stem from Apple, they carry very different design philosophies. They represent the difference between wireless and wire-free. The BeatsX are wireless, but do have a wire connecting both earbuds together behind your neck. AirPods are infamously wire-free and sit in your ears independently.

While there haven’t been many complaints about the fit or even snugness of the AirPods, it’s easy to see how many would prefer BeatsX design. In the event that an AirPod does fall out, good luck finding it especially while traveling.

Plus, BeatsX have the traditional silicone tips and inline remote for play/pause and volume control. All of these features combined makes them far better for running and intense exercise. The design may not be quite as secure as, say, the PowerBeats3 but the wireless concept beats wire-free for fast movement.

Sound Quality

Don’t buy AirPods if you’re looking for superb quality. You won’t find them with Apple’s offering, sorry. Almost all reviews agree they sound more akin to traditional EarPods — the ones that ship in the box with the iPhone. If you’ve ever put on those, you know they aren’t much to brag about.

Early reviews indicate the BeatsX has far better bass as well as sound isolation. The latter is no surprise though with the silicone ear tips, usually great at blocking out noise. AirPods have no such tips — they literally just sit in your ear. Avoid AirPods if you’re frequently in noisy environments.

Still, don’t necessarily expect bad sound quality either. The AirPods and BeatsX are both perfectly capable of producing decent sound. If you’re picky about sound quality though, definitely consider the BeatsX instead.

Wireless Capabilities

There isn’t much to compare here because both the BeatsX and AirPods feature the Apple W1 chip. It’s still worth mentioning so you have a nice list of features to brag about if you buy at least one of these.

The W1 chip enables the BeatsX and AirPods to connect almost instantly to your iOS devices. Just hold the accessory up to your Mac, iPhone or iPad and the device will instantly ask you to connect. Tap Connect and you’re all set. There is no fumbling around with Bluetooth settings.

Plus, these headphones stay in iCloud, which means all of your other devices get access to them. Head over near your computer and AirPods and BeatsX will let you easily switch the audio feed.

BeatsX and AirPods work just fine with Android devices as well, but the experience really shines with Apple products. Both function identically in this category. While the W1 chip does offer better battery performance, that’s an entirely different topic.

Battery Life

Battery life is incredible on the BeatsX as well as the AirPods, but both over very unique advantages. The BeatsX offer eight hours of continuous battery life, which is on par with market leaders like the Jaybird X3.

As an added perk though, charging the BeatsX for five minutes get you another two hours of playback. That is an absolutely incredible feat. Just plug your earphones in for a mere five minutes and you have a charge enough to last through an entire movie.

AirPods get five hours of continuous playback instead of the BeatsX’s eight. However, with the included carrying case, you can stick your AirPods in to charge them automatically and get up to 24 hours of playback from the case. Putting them back in the case means you’ll have to take them out of your ears more intermittently, but the case will keep you away from an outlet far longer than the BeatsX.

Your battery life preference really comes down to your own preference. Do you need long continuous playback or technically shorter but more travel-friendly battery life? Put it this way: BeatsX are ideal for a long flight, AirPods are ideal for a long day.


The BeatsX headphones are now available for $149.95. Apple AirPods sell for $159. They’re pretty close in price however AirPods are 10 bucks more expensive. Once you’re around the $150 mark, 10 dollars doesn’t make too much of a difference.

Image credit: Apple/Beats

If you want an overall superior headphone, I’d say go with the BeatsX. The superior sound quality and more secure fit are important features that rise above the Apple AirPods. If you’re even remotely athletic, the gap between the two is even wider.

That said if you’re priorities err on the side of wire-free and longer than 8 hours of battery life in total, the AirPods might be for you. Good luck and happy shopping.

Buy BeatsX or AirPods:

➤ Buy BeatsX ($149.95)

➤ Buy Apple AirPods ($159)