Beats Powerbeats Pro vs JBL Reflect Flow: which are better?

Beats Powerbeats Pro vs JBL Reflect Flow: which is better?
(Image credit: JBL)

True wireless earbuds have many strengths. Because they're wireless, there are no cables to get tangled up in. They sit in your ears with no bulk, making them nice and discreet, not to mention light and comfortable to wear. And they form a seal with your ear holes, so they stay put even if you thrash around.

These all make them ideal for sports, whether you're running outdoors or working out in a gym.

Two of the best wireless earbuds models on the market right now, especially if you're looking to use them when exercising, are the JBL Reflect Flow and Beats Powerbeats Pro. They're both built for active lifestyles, having comfortable, secure fits and very healthy battery lives. They'll also withstand the elements – and your sweat – while surviving life at the bottom of a gym bag.

But which is better? Read on for our Beats Powerbeats Pro vs JBL Reflect Pro comparison test, for all the features and specs compared, and to see which comes out on top. Without further ado, let the games begin.

Beats Powerbeats Pro vs JBL Reflect Flow: price

JBL Reflect Flow vs Beats Powerbeats Pro: which is better?

(Image credit: Beats)

At launch, the Beats Powerbeats Pros cost £220 ($289, AU$400), but they currently sell for as low as £187. 

JBL's Reflect Flows launched much cheaper than that, at £130 ($180, about AU$180), and can currently be picked up for as little as £90 ($118, AU$160).

**Winner** JBL Reflect Flow

Beats Powerbeats Pro vs JBL Reflect Flow: comfort and fit

JBL Reflect Flow vs Beats Powerbeats Pro: which is better?

(Image credit: JBL)

The Reflect Flows follow a tried and tested design, using ear tips to burrow deep into your ear canal, and ear fins to secure them to the upper part of your ear. 

You get three pairs of each in the box, which should fit most ear sizes and shapes, though some of the best wireless headphones do offer more options. Find the right size combination for you, and they fit like a dream, staying put even during cross-country runs.

The Beats Powerbeats Pro also have ear tips, but they use a slightly different ear hook design. These are bendable, meaning you can adjust them to fit your ear. And when you do, they provide a nice tight fit to the side of your head.

They also come with four different sizes of ear tips – one more than the JBL Reflect Flows.

**Winner** Beats Powerbeats Pro

Beats Powerbeats Pro vs JBL Reflect Flow: features

JBL Reflect Flow vs Beats Powerbeats Pro: which is better?

(Image credit: Beats)

The carry case for the Beats Powerbeats Pros is quite large and chunky – if you're hoping for something as svelte as the AirPods', think again. But then these are built for working out, so chances are you'll stash that case in your bag or leave it at home rather than take it with you on a run.

A built-in sensor detects when you're wearing them – take an earbud out and it'll stop the music. Put it back in and the tunes start up again. It works pretty well. And you can override it with the press of a button and listen with one earbud in.

Apple's H1 chip keeps the wireless Bluetooth connection nice and stable, and pairing is a doddle with either iOS or Android devices. And the Siri voice assistant comes on board for operating hands-free.

The JBL Reflect Flows also have a rather large carry case, but the same proviso applies: it's more likely to be stashed in your bag than in your pocket during a workout.

A short-press of the left earbud activates Ambient Aware mode, which quietens the sound so you can hear someone talking or an announcement at a station or airport. Another short-press turns on TalkThru, which quietens playback even more, so you can hold a conversation.

**Winner** Draw

Beats Powerbeats Pro vs JBL Reflect Flow: controls

JBL Reflect Flow vs Beats Powerbeats Pro: which is better?

(Image credit: JBL)

The Beats Powerbeats Pro have a volume rocker switch – increasingly a rarity on even the best wireless earbuds – and the Beats symbol itself is also a button. You can use it to take calls and play/pause music with a single tap, while a double tap skips forward a track and a triple tap goes back. You can also fast-forward and rewind by holding on to the last of these taps.

Best of all, the controls are duplicated on each earpiece, so there’s no need to remember which side does what – that could make a difference when you’re on the treadmill and every little hesitation counts.

The JBL Reflect Flows are a bit more restricted in their controls. The left earbud is the one for Ambient Aware/TalkThru modes as covered in the previous section. The right lets you play/pause, answer calls and activate your voice assistant (Siri, Google Assistant and Samsug's Bixby are all supported).

**Winner** Beats Powerbeats Pro 

Beats Powerbeats Pro vs JBL Reflect Flow: battery life

JBL Reflect Flow vs Beats Powerbeats Pro: which is better?

(Image credit: Beats)

The Powerbeats Pros have nine hours of juice before needing as recharge. Their carry case has almost another two full charges in it, giving you a total of 24 hours run time before having to find a plug socket.

The Reflect Flows beat that. They manage 10 hours of run time, and a further 20 from the case, making for a grand total of 30 hours. That's more than enough exercise for anyone, and up there with the best wireless headphones around.

**Winner** JBL Reflect Flow

Beats Powerbeats Pro vs JBL Reflect Flow: sound quality

JBL Reflect Flow vs Beats Powerbeats Pro: which is better?

(Image credit: JBL)

Which of these sporty buds sounds better?

True to form, the Powerbeats Pros have Beats' signature bass-heavy sound. And with lower-quality streaming services, that's absolutely fine. In fact, it's exactly what you need when you're pounding the treadmill.

Turn up the volume though, and things start to sound a bit harsh. There are other weaknesses too. A lack of dynamics is a real bugbear, tending to sap the energy from a track. Not ideal.

The JBL Reflect Flows are more like it. Their bass is deep and playful, precise and well-balanced, and never falls foul of timing issues. 

They tend to play it a little safe through the midrange, but for a sporty pair of headphones with an IPX7 waterproof rating, they sound very good indeed.

**Winner** JBL Reflect Flow

Beats Powerbeats Pro vs JBL Reflect Flow: verdict

There can only be one winner and it's the JBL Reflect Flows.

They sound much better than the Powerbeats Pros, have longer battery life and a winning feature set. The Powerbeats Pros have a slightly better fit and more intuitive controls, but in every other regard we prefer the Reflect Flows. Oh, and they're cheaper too. A great buy.


Read the full review: JBL Reflect Flow

Read the full review: Beats Powerbeats Pro

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