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Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.3.1
Reviewed Feb 01, 2019 at 10:45 am
Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless Picture
Test Methodology v1.3.1
7.0
Mixed Usage
7.3
Neutral Sound
7.1
Commute/Travel
8.2
Sports/Fitness
6.5
Office
5.5
Wireless Gaming
5.4
Wired Gaming
5.9
Phone Call
Type In-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless are great sports headphones that are fairly versatile for everyday casual use. They have more accurate audio reproduction than the previous Powerbeats 2 Wireless but kept a similar sports-oriented design. Their stable ear-hooks and the breathable in-ear fit are great for working out. Unfortunately, they don’t have the best noise isolation performance, which will affect their effectiveness during a daily commute or at the office. On the upside, they don’t leak too much so you can mask more ambient noise by raising your volume, and their battery life will last you for a full workday.

Our Verdict

7.0 Mixed Usage

Decent for mixed usage. The Beats Powerbeats 3 Wireless have a better and more accurate sound than the previous Powerbeats2 that critical listeners will enjoy. They don't have the best isolation performance but they don't leak, which is useful for commuting and at the office for blocking out more noise. The in-ear fit might not be ideal for everyone, especially for long periods of time. On the upside, their ear-hook design offers great stability for sports, and they are breathable and portable to bring to your workouts. Unfortunately, their latency may be a bit too high for watching TV and gaming, and their microphone performance is sub-par for online multiplayer games.

7.3 Neutral Sound

Above-average for neutral listening. These headphones have a powerful and deep bass, a well-balanced mid-range and a great treble. However, their bass may sound a bit thumpy, which some will prefer. There is also a small bump in the mid-range that will affect the projection and intensity of vocals and instruments, while treble is underemphasized throughout the range which will make sibilances (S and T sounds), vocals, and leads lack a bit of detail and brightness. They are versatile for a wide variety of music, but the in-ear fit will not be comfortable for long listening sessions.

See our Neutral Sound recommendations
7.1 Commute/Travel

Decent for commuting and traveling. They don’t passively isolate lower frequencies, so you’ll hear engine rumbles during your commute. However, they are very portable and easy to carry around. Their battery life will last you even for long flights, but you may feel ear fatigue after long listening sessions.

See our Commute/Travel recommendations
8.2 Sports/Fitness

Great for sports. The ear-hook design is great for added stability during physical activities, and the in-ear fit is very breathable. Also, they are very portable and can fit in most pockets and bags, meaning you can bring them to work out about anywhere. Due to the great wireless range, you’ll also be able to leave your source nearby if you don’t like working out with a phone in your pockets.

See our Sports/Fitness recommendations
6.5 Office

Decent for the office. The Beats Powerbeats 3 Wireless isolate a decent amount of ambient chatter, and they don’t leak too much so you’ll be able to raise your volume a bit without distracting others around you. On the upside, their 12-hour battery life will last you a full workday. Unfortunately, they don’t support multi-device pairing for you to use them with your phone and PC, and the in-ear fit might not be comfortable enough for a whole shift.

See our Office recommendations
5.5 Wireless Gaming

Sub-par for gaming. These headphones are sports-oriented and shouldn’t be used for gaming due to their high latency and mediocre microphone. Even if you don’t play online and don’t need a mic, these headphones won’t be a good option for this use case.

See our Wireless Gaming recommendations
5.4 Wired Gaming
5.9 Phone Call
  • 7.0 Mixed Usage
  • 7.3 Neutral Sound
  • 7.1 Commute/Travel
  • 8.2 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.5 Office
  • 5.5 Wireless Gaming
  • 5.4 Wired Gaming
  • 5.9 Phone Call
Pros
  • Stable and portable design for sports.
  • Above-average sound quality.
  • Good battery life.
Cons
  • Lack of customization options.
  • Poor noise isolation performance.
  1. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  2. Update 11/6/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.

Check Price

Test Results

Design
Design
Style

The Beats PowerBeats3 have a sporty look very similar to the previous Beats Powerbeats 2 Wireless. They have an ear-hook design that will fit around your ear for added stability. They come in a multitude of different color schemes depending on the collection you buy from. If you like flashy sports designs, look at the Beats' Pop Collection. If you prefer unicolored designs, the default color schemes or the Neighborhood Collection might be better for you.

7.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.06 lbs
Clamping Force
0 lbs

The Powerbeats3 have a fairly comfortable design, quite comparable to the Powerbeats2. The in-ear fit doesn’t enter your ear canal as deeply as typical in-ears and they come with 4 tip sizes for you to find the best fit. Their ear-hook design feels lightweight and doesn’t put pressure inside your ears. However, the fit may not be for everyone, and you may feel ear fatigue after a while.

7.4
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
N/A
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Decent
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
N/A
Noise Cancelling Control N/A
Talk-Through
N/A
Additional Buttons No

The in-line remote of the Powerbeats3 is an improvement over the Powerbeats2’s. You get better tactile feedback from the buttons since they don't feel as mushy and hard to press. They still offer call/music management, track skipping and volumes controls. You can also access your device’s voice assistant by holding the multipurpose button. There is also a dedicated power and pairing button on the left earbud.

9.2
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 0.8 C

Like most in-ears, the Powerbeats3 don’t trap heat inside your ears, and you shouldn’t feel a big difference in temperature while wearing them. This means they’ll be a good option for sports as you shouldn’t sweat more than usual.

9.0
Design
Portability
L 2.0 "
W 2.0 "
H 1.0 "
Volume 4.0 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required N/A

These headphones are very portable as they can fit in most pockets and bags. They are a bit bulkier than other sports headphones because of their ear-hook design, but they also come with a decent rubber pouch, which doesn’t add too much bulk and will fit in pockets as well.

6.5
Design
Case
Type Pouch
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A

The Beats Powerbeats3 come with a rubberized pouch that's mostly waterproof. It protects the headphones against scratches, minor water exposure and feels like it could absorb small impacts. However, there is a small opening on top of the pouch that can’t be closed, so the headphones aren’t completely protected. It is also a bit tight to fit in the headphones along with the tip options and charging cable. The case is a bit disappointing since the Powerbeats2 came with a hard case, and the Powerbeats3 come with the same case as the BeatsX.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The build quality of the Powerbeats3 is similar to the Powerbeats2. The earbuds feel dense enough to survive a few impacts without taking too much damage, and their ear-hook is made of rubberized material that is malleable to fit around your ears without breaking. The in-line remote feels better-made and more responsive. However, compared to other sports headphones, they are not rated for dust or water protection.

8.0
Design
Stability

These headphones are very stable during physical activity, and they shouldn’t pop out of your ears. The malleable ear-hooks offer great stability and will not let the earbuds fall. However, the in-ear part of the headphones moves around quite a bit and often breaks the seal, which may get frustrating for some. If you know this is going to annoy you, we suggest taking a look at the V-MODA BassFit Wireless for another stable option with ear-hooks and stability fins.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Beats Powerbeats3 headphones
  • 4 tip options
  • Carrying pouch
  • Charging cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
1.75 db
Treble Amount
-3.41 db
9.0
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.21 dB

The frequency response consistency is excellent. If the user can achieve a proper fit and an air-tight seal using the assortment of tips that come with the headphones, then they should be able to get consistent bass and treble delivery every time they use the headphones.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
8.4
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.27 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10.15 Hz
Low-Bass
3.41 dB
Mid-Bass
2.2 dB
High-Bass
1.89 dB

The bass performance is great. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 10Hz, which is excellent for bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. The whole range is flat and even, but there is a slight, yet barely noticeable, overemphasis throughout the range. The slight overemphasis in low-bass, however, will be noticeable as it will make the bass sound a bit thumpy, which some may like. Mid-bass, responsible for the punch of the bass and kick instruments, and high-bass, responsible for warmth, are both within about 2dB of our curve, which is good.

8.6
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.86 dB
Low-Mid
-0.66 dB
Mid-Mid
-0.82 dB
High-Mid
2.71 dB

The mid-range of the Powerbeats3 is also great. The response is fairly flat and even, with a small bump in high-mid. Low-mid and mid-mid are well-balanced and within 1dB of our target which is important for the clear reproduction of vocals and instruments. However, high-mid is a bit overemphasized which will add intensity and projection to vocals and lead instruments.

8.1
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.32 dB
Low-Treble
-0.87 dB
Mid-Treble
-2.31 dB
High-Treble
-7.4 dB

The Powerbeats3’s treble performance is also great. The whole range is fairly even, but it is also mostly under our target curve. This underemphasis will have a negative impact on the detail and brightness of vocals, instruments, and cymbals.

7.6
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.58 db
Dips
1.16 db
9.3
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.16
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.42
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
0.96
Weighted Phase Mismatch
1.17

The Beats Powerbeats3 has excellent imaging. Their weighted group delay is at 0.16, which is very good. This suggests that they have a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were exceptionally well-matched in amplitude, frequency, and phase response, which ensures an accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video game effects) in the stereo image. However, these results are only valid for our unit, and yours may perform differently.

1.4
Sound
Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
4.7
Acoustic Space Excitation
2.2

The soundstage of the Powerbeats3 is poor. This is because creating an out-of-head and speaker-like soundstage is largely dependent on activating the resonances of the pinna (outer ear). The design of in-ears and earbuds is in such a way that fully bypasses the pinna and doesn't interact with it. Also, because the Beats have a closed-back design, their soundstage won't be perceived to be as open as that of open-back earbuds like the Apple AirPods or the Bose SoundSport Free.

7.8
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.319
WHD @ 100
0.106
Isolation
5.1
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-11.9 dB
Bass
-0.63 dB
Mid
-11.61 dB
Treble
-24.52 dB

The isolation performance is sub-par. These headphones don't have active noise-cancelation and do not provide any isolation in the bass range. This means they will let in all the rumbling of engines. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they isolate by about 12dB, which is decent. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts and fan noises like A/C systems, they achieved 25dB of isolation, which is also decent. However, there is a weak point around 4-5KHz. For sports in-ears with better passive isolation, take a look at the JBL Endurance Dive.

8.2
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
32.11 dB

The leakage performance of the Beats Powerbeats 3 is very good. The significant portion of leakage sits between 3KHz and 7KHz, meaning it will sound quite thin and mostly consist of S and T sounds. The overall level of leakage is also low. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages around 32dB SPL, but it peaks at 56dB SPL, which is about the noise level of most offices.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
No
In-line
Yes
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
N/A

The in-line microphone of the Beats Powerbeats3 is sub-par. Speech recorded or transmitted will sound noticeably thin, muffled and lacking in detail, which makes speech a bit difficult to understand over the phone in loud environments. It also doesn't fare well in moderately loud environments, as it will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise in places such as a busy street.

6.5
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
276.97 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
3.31 dB
HFE
3368.2 Hz
Weighted THD
12.189
Gain
36.29 dB

The in-line microphone of the Powerbeats3 has an average recording quality. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 277Hz means speech recorded/transmitted with it will sound noticeably thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3.4KHz is poor and results in speech that is muffled and lacking in detail. It also negatively affects the intelligibility of speech but will be understandable in quiet environments.

4.8
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
5.68 dB

The in-line microphone has sub-par noise handling as it achieves a speech-to-noise ratio of only 5.7dB, which is quite low. This means that it won't be able to separate speech from noise in environments with even moderate amount of ambient noise.

Active Features
6.3
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
11.7 hrs
Additional Charges
0
Total Battery Life
11.7 hrs
Charge Time
1.2 hrs
Power Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port micro-USB

The Powerbeats3 offer 12 hours of continuous playback, which should last you a full workday or a few workouts. They don’t take much time to recharge fully, and they also have a quick charge feature that gives you an hour of battery life for only 5 minutes of charging time. This can be very useful for last minute workouts or before commuting. Unfortunately, they don’t have any power saving feature to extend the battery life.

5.0
Active Features
App Support
App Name N/A
iOS Yes
Android N/A
macOS N/A
Windows N/A
Equalizer
N/A
ANC Control
N/A
Mic Control N/A
Room effects
N/A
Playback Control
N/A
Button Mapping N/A
Surround Sound N/A

The Powerbeats3 make use of the W1 chip for better integration into the iOS platform. This gives them a simple popup when connecting to an Apple device that displays battery information and a persistent notification for it. It also makes pairing and switching between iOS devices easier. However, this is not really a functional app as you don't have any equalizers, room effects or additional features.

Connectivity
7.3
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
4.2 + W1 chip
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line of Sight Range
226 ft
Default Latency
182 ms
aptX Latency
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
N/A

These are Bluetooth-only headphones that don’t offer NFC or multi-device pairing, which would have been convenient if you often switch between your phone and office computer. On the upside, the W1 chip makes pairing and switching between iOS devices easier.

Note that we could not confirm the Bluetooth version. Also, if you use them with a PC be sure to set the playback device at 44.1 KHz otherwise you may get a ticking sound caused by sampling rate issues.

Their latency is slightly too high for watching videos and gaming. However, they perform better than most Bluetooth headphones, which average around 200-220 ms, so you might not notice the delay as badly as with other headphones unless you’re gaming. Also, some video content apps like Netflix and YouTube offer some sort of compensation depending on your device so you may not notice it at all.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
N/A
USB Audio
N/A
Detachable N/A
Length N/A
Connection N/A
Wired Latency
N/A

These Bluetooth-only headphones do not have a wired connection.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
No
PC / PS4 Wired USB
No
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Wireless
No
0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
N/A
USB Input
N/A
Line In
N/A
Line Out
N/A
Optical Input
N/A
RCA Input
N/A
Dock Charging
N/A
Power Supply
N/A

Like most sports headphones, the Powerbeats3 do not have a dock.

Compared to other headphones

Comparison picture

The Beats Powerbeats3 are great sports-oriented headphones that are also fairly versatile for everyday casual use. They come in a variety of different colors to suit your preferred style and have a way better sound quality than the previous Powerbeats 2 Wireless. They have great battery life for wireless in-ears and perform quite well against similar sports headphones. See our recommendations for the best wireless earbuds for running, the best wireless earbuds under $100, and the best earbuds and in-ears.

Bose SoundSport Wireless
SEE PRICE
B&H

The Bose SoundSport Wireless have a more neutral sound quality and their earbud-like design will be more comfortable for most people. However, the Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless have twice the battery life of the Boses and feel better-built. Also, their closed-back design isolates more than the semi-open design of the Bose. For sports, the ear-hooks of the Powerbeats3 are more stable and their control scheme is easier to use.

Beats Powerbeats Pro Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
B&H

The Beats Powerbeats Pro are practically identical to the Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless, but in a truly wireless design. Both headphones also have a very similar sound profile and have about the same battery life. However, the Powerbeats Pro have a case that gives you about 15 more hours wherever you are. The fit of the Powerbeats Pro is also a bit more comfortable than the Powerbeats3. If you don’t really need the truly wireless design, than the Powerbeats3 might offer better value.

Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019
SEE PRICE
B&H

The Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless are better headphones than the Apple AirPods 2 2019. Their closed-back design will isolate more ambient noise than the open AirPods, although the fit of the Powerbeats3 doesn’t isolate very well. However, they are noticeably more stable due to their ear-hook design, which is great for sports. They also have a very good audio reproduction and perform more consistently across different users. You also get volume controls on their in-line remote, which the AirPods don’t have. On the other hand, the Apple AirPods 2 have a great charging case and feel slightly better made than the Powerbeats3. While you get more battery life with the Beats, you can’t charge them anywhere like you can with the AirPods’ case.   

Jaybird X4 Wireless
SEE PRICE
BestBuy.com

The Jaybird X4 and Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless perform similarly, but the X4 have the edge thanks to their app that lets you EQ the sound to your liking. Also, the X4 have better isolation performance and you’ll be able to use these on the bus or at the office without a problem. However, the Powerbeats3 have longer battery life that will last you a full workday, and some may prefer the ear-hook design for more stability during physical activities.

JBL Endurance Dive Wireless
SEE PRICE
B&H

The Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless are better sports headphones than the JBL Endurance Dive. Their fit is more comfortable and their in-line remote might be easier to use than the touch-sensitive surface of the Dive, especially during physical activity. They fit a bit more securely inside the ear too, which is great for sports. They sound a bit more neutral and have noticeably more battery life. On the other hand, the JBL Dive have internal storage so you can use them in the water without Bluetooth, and their fit creates an air-tight seal that blocks a good amount of ambient noise, which makes them a better option for commuting.

Anker SoundCore Spirit X Wireless
SEE PRICE
BestBuy.com

For the money, the Anker Soundcore Spirit X might be a better choice for most consumers. The Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless are better headphones than the Anker Spirit X since they have a slightly more neutral sound signature and feel more solid due to thicker cables. On the other hand, the Ankers are more comfortable and come with a nice solid case. Unfortunately, they don’t have the great wireless range of the Powerbeats3, but if you keep your phone on you during your workouts, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Beats BeatsX Wireless
SEE PRICE
B&H

The Beats BeatsX are more versatile headphones than the Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless, but the Powerbeats3 are better sports headphones. Due to their typical in-ear design, the BeatsX create a tight seal inside your ears and block a good amount of ambient noise, making them suitable for commuting and at the office. However, they have an around-the-neck design that not everyone will like. On the other hand. The Powerbeats3 are typical wireless in-ears and their ear-hook design is more stable for sports. They are also a bit more comfortable since they don’t enter your ear canal as deeply.

Jabra Elite Active 45e Wireless
SEE PRICE
BestBuy.com

The Beats Powerbeats 3 Wireless are better headphones than the Jabra Elite Active 45e. They are more comfortable and their audio quality is superior. They also have slightly better isolation performance and they offer about twice the battery life of the Elite Active 45e. On the other hand, you can’t EQ them, which you can do on the Jabras. You can also connect the Elite Active 45e to two devices and they have a mic-mute function for calls. They will also be a better option if you want headphones to run outside with, while being aware of your surroundings.

Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless
Unavailable
B&H

The Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless are a good upgrade over the previous Beats Powerbeats 2 Wireless model. While the design is fairly the same, a few performance adjustments were done. The in-line remote now offers decent feedback and buttons are now easy to push. They also have a more neutral-sounding sound with a small bass overemphasis, instead of having a really boomy and cluttered sound profile. The Powerbeats3 also have more than double the Powerbeats 2’s battery life, and take less time to charge fully.

V-MODA BassFit Wireless
SEE PRICE
BestBuy.com

The Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless are slightly better headphones than the V-MODA BassFit Wireless, but both headphones are very similar. The Beats have a slightly more comfortable build, as they don’t enter your ear canal as deeply as the V-MODAs. They also have a slightly more neutral sounding frequency response, but the difference will be subtle. The Powerbeats3 are also slightly better-built, feel more durable, and have better wireless range. On the other hand, the BassFit have slightly less latency for watching video content and support the aptX and AAC codecs, which might give you better overall performance.

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Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless Price

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