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Beats Flex vs Apple AirPods (2021): Can The Affordable Newcomer Beat The Expensive Veteran?

If you’ve been on the hunt for a good pair of wireless earbuds, you can now add one more prospect to your list–Apple’s new Beats Flex. These Bluetooth neckband earbuds feature a lot of the great stuff found on the Apple AirPods but they retail for a fraction of the price. Does this mean they’re the better buy? If you’re wondering how this newcomer matches up to the veteran, here’s an in-depth comparison of the Beats Flex and the Apple AirPods, taking their design, performance, and additional features into consideration.

Beats Flex vs Apple AirPods Comparison Chart

ModelBeats FlexApple AirPods
 Amazon productAmazon product
PriceAmazon productAmazon product
DesignIn-ear earphonesIn-ear earphones
Chip Apple W1 chipApple H1 chip
BluetoothClass 1 BluetoothBluetooth 5.0
Audio SharingYesYes
Hands-Free SiriNoYes
Active Noise CancellationNoNo
Android CompatibleYesYes
Battery LifeUp to 12 hoursUp to 5 hours
Charge Connector USB-CLightning to USB-A


The Apple AirPods have a sleeker look but the Beats Flex are more secure.

Beats Flex vs Apple AirPods design
The Apple AirPods (right) are completely wireless while the Beats Flex (left) have a neckband.

If you like variety, you’d be happy to know that the Beats Flex come in four different hues. There’s Yuzu Yellow and Flame Blue for those who want to stand out, as well as Smoke Gray and Beats Black for those who prefer a more understated look. As for design, it’s something Beats has done before. You get two pods attached to a flat cable which you hang around your neck. You either love it because of the security, or you hate it because it feels awkward and doesn’t look as stylish.

But whether or not you like the neckband, there’s no denying that it serves a good purpose. The battery components are attached to it and they’re placed in such a way that they sit nicely on your shoulders. This means that there’s less weight tugging on the earbuds. The controls are found on the neckband as well which further lessens the weight of the earbuds and helps them stay put inside your ears. As for the earbuds themselves, they’re capped off with a silicone ear tip which comes in four sizes. This allows you to choose the right fit for your ears.

As for the Apple AirPods, you probably already know what they look like since everyone’s sporting them these days. Unlike the Beats Flex, they only come in white and they’re not attached to any kind of neckband. This gives them a sophisticated and premium look although the risk of them falling out of your ears and getting scuffed up are greater. Also, they don’t come with ear tips so if they don’t fit you well, there’s not much you can do about it.


Both the Beats Flex and Apple AirPods have decent audio quality but not outstanding.

Beats Flex vs Apple AirPods
The Beats Flex (left) have a punchy bass while the Apple AirPods (right) have crystal clear vocals.

So do the Beats Flex sound good? The short answer is yes, given their price. They give you a powerful bass performance that should be familiar to existing Beats users, but it’s not too overwhelming that it overshadows the mids and highs. The vocals are able to come through smooth and clear while the mids are good but not outstanding. You should be able to enjoy all music genres with the Beats Flex although don’t expect new details to pop up on old tracks that you’ve played over and over again before. Overall, their audio quality is good but are they able to outperform the Apple AirPods? Not quite but they’re not too far behind either.

As for the AirPods, they’re the opposite of the Beats Flex when it comes to bass performance. The lows kind of sound more like mids, mostly because the seal on the AirPods aren’t great, especially if they don’t fit your ears well. While the bass leaves a lot of room for improvement, you can expect the mids and highs to be extra clear and pleasant. Even if you turn the volume up, and the AirPods can get pretty loud, the vocals are never painful to the ears. This applies to voice calls as well. In fact, the AirPods are probably one of the best earbuds out there when it comes to handling phone conversations.

Additional Features

The Apple AirPods have a more advanced chip but the Beats Flex impress with their battery life.

Beats Flex vs Apple AirPods features
The Beats Flex can last up to 12 hours while the Apple AirPods can barely manage 5 hours.

One cool thing about the Beats Flex is the fact that they’re equipped with the Apple-made W1 chip. This makes the set-up process so much easier for iOS users and it opens up more features for them too like audio sharing. This allows you to connect your Beats Flex and another pair of headphones (all AirPods are compatible as well as some Beats models) to one device so that you can share the same experience with a friend. Another neat trick that the Beats Flex do is that they automatically stop the music once they snap back together magnetically.

As for the Apple AirPods, the second gen version has been updated with an H1 chip. This upgrade makes the set-up process for iOS users a breeze, plus switching between iOS devices is extra easy too. In addition, you don’t need to use your hands to access Siri anymore. Just say the word and Siri will come to your aid. Of course, one of the most celebrated abilities of the AirPods is that they pause the music the moment you pop them out of your ears.

While the Beats Flex may not have the most advanced chip, they make up for this with their impressive battery life. They can last up to 12 hours on a single charge which more than exceeds our expectations of budget earbuds. To top things off, all it takes is 10 minutes of charging via USB-C to give your Beats Flex an additional 90 minutes of playback time. This is a handy feature for those who always forget to charge the night before and have to leave the house early in the morning. As for the AirPods, they’re nowhere close in terms of battery life. Apple claims that they can last up to 5 hours but they can’t even hit this number in reality.


The Beats Flex win against the Apple AirPods for their design, battery life, and value for money.

Amazon product

The truth of the matter is, you don’t buy the Beats Flex or the Apple AirPods for their audio quality. Neither of them are outstanding in this area and aren’t able to outperform the more high end models in the market.

However, you should consider the Beats Flex if you want lots of bass and unbeatable battery life for a decent price. There’s also the fact that their well-thought-out design makes the listening experience a secure, worry-free, and comfortable one. This makes the Beats Flex the winner in our book.

As for the Apple AirPods, they’re a good choice for existing iOS users who want a seamless listening experience across all their devices. AirPods are known to make you look more stylish as well, thanks to their sleek and fully wireless design.


๐Ÿ“Œ Are the Beats Flex worth it?

Yes. The Beats Flex may be affordable but they have a well-thought-out design and they’re able to deliver decent sound, a strong bass performance, and impressive battery life.

๐Ÿ“Œ Are the Apple AirPods worth it?

The Apple AirPods are overpriced for what they are. But if you don’t want to stray from the Apple ecosystem, they’ll give you the seamless listening experience you’re looking for across all your devices.

๐Ÿ“Œ Which one has better audio quality, the Beats Flex or the Apple AirPods?

If you’re looking for a punchy bass performance, definitely go for the Beats Flex. But if you enjoy crystal clear vocals, you might be better off with the Apple AirPods.

๐Ÿ“Œ Which one is better overall, the Beats Flex or the Apple AirPods?

We think the Beats Flex are the better purchase considering they’re cheaper than the Apple AirPods and yet are more secure and comfortable to wear. They also deliver better bass and have a much longer battery life.

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Denise Jose

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Researcher and yoga teacher passionate about article writing, photography, wellness, and mindfulness.