- The Beats Solo Pro noise-canceling headphones have lots of features that are built-into AirPods.
- The features include "Hey Siri" support and the same H1 chip for easy pairing with iPhones and iPads.
- The Beats Solo Pro also have a "transparency" feature that lets you hear the outside world when you need to.
Apple's Beats brand announced its new $299.95 Solo Pro on-ear noise-canceling headphones on Tuesday.
The headphones offer a lot of the great features that people love about AirPods but in a different form that sits on your ears instead of in them.
Apple's Beats by Dre brand is super popular. Beats says it's sold 30 million Solo-branded headphones, and the new model will help it continue to compete in the on-ear headphone space against similar products from Sony and Bose.
The Solo Pro headphones use the same Apple H1 chip that Apple uses in the newest AirPods, and which Beats uses in the in-ear Powerbeats Pro. That's important, since the H1 chip allows you to pair your headphones to an iPhone or iPad just as easily as AirPods.
You just need to tap the screen once to pair initially, and then the Solo Pro headphones will sync each time you turn them on. The headphones turn on automatically when they're unfolded, too, which is a nice touch that I liked during my brief hands-on with them. Also, like AirPods, you can say "Hey Siri" to bring up Apple's voice assistant when you want to get directions, place a phone call, play music and more.
Unfortunately, they won't work in situations where you have to plug them into a headphone jack, like a Nintendo Switch or airplane audio systems. These are pure Bluetooth headphones.
Also, unlike AirPods, there's no fun wireless charging case. But they do use a Lightning cable instead of Micro USB, which means they can use the same charger as your iPhone.
In a quick test last week, I was pretty impressed with how well the active noise cancellation blocked out people's voices, and then how easily I could hear them speaking when I turned on "transparency mode," which amplifies outside noises instead of muting them. It's a really useful feature for people in cities, who like to block out the noise at some points but need to hear certain things at other times, like train announcements or busy traffic.
I also like the clicky buttons built in to the ear cup on the side of the headphones. You can use them to skip songs, adjust the volume or talk with Siri (or Google Assistant on Android phones.)
Beats promises up to 22 hours of battery life with active noise canceling or transparency mode turned on, or up to 40 hours with those modes off. You should get up to three hours of battery life after just 10 minutes of charging with a Lightning cable.
The Solo Pro headphones now available to preorder from Apple's website are in black, white, gray, blue, light blue and red. They'll launch in stores on Oct. 30.