Sephora vs. Ulta: We compared the perks of each store’s membership programs and more

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Sephora v. Ulta 4x3
  • As one-stop shops for all things beauty, Sephora and Ulta are often compared.
  • Both are actually pretty similar and great for stocking up on makeup, skincare, and haircare.
  • Here we break down their differences, from membership programs to shipping costs.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

If you’re an avid shopper of all things beauty, you’ve probably been to a Sephora or an Ulta – maybe even both. As one-stop shops for everything from makeup to skincare to haircare and all else in between, many people compare the two stores.

Sephora has a reputation for selling more luxury beauty brands while Ulta has long been considered a retailer for drugstore brands. The reality is that these two stores aren’t so different. With competitive rewards programs, strong selections, beauty services, and more, both stores offer a great shopping experience.

Wondering where you should go to get what? Below we’ve covered the membership programs, rewards, product and brand selections, ways to shop, and how to decide which store is best for you.

Keep reading for a complete breakdown of what you can expect to find at Sephora and Ulta.

Brands and product selection

Sephora Collection Lip Gloss
Sephora carries a host of brands, including its popular in-house Sephora Collection.

Both stores carry a wide range of products across all price ranges, and there is a lot of overlap between the two when it comes to brand selection. Generally, Sephora stocks more high-end brands and Ulta more drugstore options.

Sephora: Sephora carries hundreds of brands, along with its own private label. Sephora Collection, the store’s in-house line, offers affordable beauty products starting as low as $1. The store also stocks a host of mid-tier brands, as well as high-end ones like Dior, La Mer, and Chanel. Fenty Beauty, Huda Beauty, and Charlotte Tilbury are some of Sephora’s standout brands you can’t find at Ulta.

Ulta: Ulta Beauty Collection is the store’s in-house label offering affordable beauty products — prices start below $1 for a sheet mask — with everything from skincare to beauty tools. Like Sephora, you can find plenty of mid-tier brands, but what stands out about Ulta is its curation of budget beauty brands. NYX, e.l.f. Cosmetics, and L’Oréal are some of the drugstore brands you can’t find at Sephora.

Sales and deals

Sephora  products
Some of the brands at Sephora you can save on.

Both beauty stores have online sale sections and limited-time deals. Ulta tends to host sales more often, but Sephora gives greater savings during singular events. And like many retailers, the sales are even greater when you enroll in their membership programs.

Sephora: The beauty retailer has weekly sales on trial and mini sizes, and with online orders, you can choose two free samples at checkout. Sephora also hosts a massive annual spring sale where Beauty Insiders can save big on popular brand names. If you sign up for the rewards program, you can use an exclusive promo code to take 10% off nearly every product Sephora carries. And for Rouge and VIB members, the deals are even greater — saving 15% and 20% off, respectively. Right now, everyone can get free shipping with the code “FREESHIP.”

Ulta: Constantly releasing coupons, buy more save more deals, and sale items, Ulta makes it easy for people to shop discounted beauty products both in-store and online. Its big sale events — like the 21 Days of Beauty, the Gorgeous Hair Event, and the Love Your Skin Event — are notorious for featuring Beauty Steals, where customers can shop up to 50% off top brands like Tarte and Glamglow and the deals refresh every 24 hours. These events come and go quickly, so you can sign up for Ulta Beauty emails to stay in the know for big upcoming events.

Memberships

Ulta Morphe Setting Spray
One of the photo-ready products you can find at Ulta right now.

Both stores offer membership programs that reward shoppers through points programs, granting them special access to promotions, and more.

Sephora: Beauty Insider is Sephora’s membership program. There are three levels of membership: Beauty Insider, VIB, and VIB Rouge. Any shopper can become a Beauty Insider since there’s no minimum spend necessary. To become a VIB member, you must spend $350 a year, and to become a VIB Rouge member that number goes up to $1,000 a year.

Ulta: Ultamate Rewards is Ulta’s membership for loyal shoppers. There are three tiers of membership: member, platinum member, and diamond member. There is no minimum spend required to become a regular member. You must spend $500 a year to become a platinum member and $1,200 to become a diamond member.

Rewards program benefits

Sephora laneige birthday set
This Laneige skincare set is one of the three eligible birthday gifts for Beauty Insiders.

Both the Beauty Insider and Ultamate Rewards programs offer great perks to shoppers, whether you’re spending lots of money at the store each year or none at all. Sephora offers its members more promotions while Ulta offers more birthday perks, but ultimately both programs reward shoppers very similarly. 

Sephora: There are many benefits of becoming a Beauty Insider. One of the most notable is the points system, which turns your spending into points that you can redeem at the Rewards Baazar in exchange for products. Here’s a rundown of the rewards you get, at every membership tier:

  • Insider: 1 point for every $1 you spend, 2 free birthday gifts, 10% off during seasonal savings events
  • VIB: 1 point for every $1 you spend, 2 free birthday gifts, 15% off during seasonal savings events, exclusive gifts with a monthly purchase
  • VIB Rouge: 1 point for every $1 you spend, 2 free birthday gifts, 20% off during seasonal savings events, exclusive gifts with a monthly purchase, free standard shipping, access to exclusive events, first-in-line for new product launches

Ulta: Ultamate Rewards members get lots of benefits that make future shopping hauls more affordable. Unlike Sephora where points are redeemed as products, at Ulta points are redeemed as cash discounts on future purposes. Here’s a breakdown of the rewards at every level:

  • Member: 1 point for every $1 you spend, free birthday gift, double points during your birthday month
  • Platinum: 1.25 points for every $1 you spend, free birthday gift, double points during your birthday month, $10 birthday coupon, points never expire
  • Diamond: 1.5 points for every $1 you spend, free birthday gift, double points during your birthday month, $10 birthday coupon, points never expire, everyday free shipping on orders of $25 or more, annual $25 beauty service reward card

Shipping costs

Ulta Beauty shopper

Both Sephora and Ulta have well-organized stores where you can find (and be tempted by) thousands of products on display. Both also offer pretty similar online shopping experiences, though Ulta offers an incredibly convenient in-store pickup option. 

Sephora: Sephora’s shipping offering is pretty standard. If you spend $50 or more, you’re eligible for free, standard three-day shipping. For orders less than $50, this same shipping costs $6.50. To get two- or one-day shipping, you’ll pay $10.95 or $16.95, respectively. If you shop online at Sephora often, it may be worth it for you to enroll in its flash shipping program. It costs just $15 a year and gives you free shipping for the entire year, no minimums required. 

Ulta: Ulta’s shipping rates and policies are pretty standard too. Regardless of how much you spend on your order, standard shipping costs $5.95 (3-8 business days), expedited shipping costs $9.95 (3-4 business days), and premium shipping costs $16.95 (2-3 business days).

If you want to avoid shipping costs and live close to an Ulta store location, use Ulta’s in-store pickup service. All you have to do is choose “Buy Online & Pick Up in Store” as your purchase option. When your order’s ready, you’ll get an email from Ulta — just head over to the chosen store with that email confirmation and an ID, and you’re good to go. 

So, where should you go?

Ulta Beauty store

Truthfully, it’s up to you. You can’t go wrong shopping at Sephora or Ulta. For many shoppers, it’s a matter of what they know. For example, I grew up going to a local Sephora and got a Beauty Insider card at that time. It’s still worth it for me to shop there as I’ve accumulated points over the years and it’s proved to be a brand I can really trust. If you grew up going to an Ulta instead, you’d probably say the same about that brand. 

Another factor in choosing where to shop is looking at what you want to buy. If e.l.f. Cosmetics is your favorite brand, go to Ulta — Sephora doesn’t stock the brand. If you love Charlotte Tilbury, you’ll want to go to Sephora, as Ulta doesn’t have it. Luckily, both Sephora and Ulta stock a number of popular beauty brands like Nars, Clinique, and Too Faced, among others — so if that’s what you need, you’re set wherever you go. 

Shop makeup, skincare, beauty tools, and more at Ulta.

Shop makeup, skincare, beauty tools, and more at Sephora.

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Apple’s new iPad Pro improves upon last year’s with a faster processor and 5G support – but the upgrade is really for power users

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Apple Event April 2021
iPad Pro

  • The 2021 Apple iPad Pro features improved specs while keeping the 2020 model‘s $799 starting price.
  • You can preorder the new tablet starting April 30, and units are expected to ship in mid-May.
  • The M1 processor and 5G option are nice features, but 2020 iPad owners should wait for a bigger upgrade.

On April 20, Apple announced the fifth-generation of its iPad Pro line. The new tablet has a lot of the same features as the 2020 edition, but adds an upgraded display, 5G connectivity support, Apple’s M1 processor (CPU), and bigger storage capacity.

You can order the 2021 Apple iPad Pro from Apple and other retailers starting April 30, and tablets will be available in mid-May, according to Apple.

Prices for the 11-inch tablet start at $799, and the new 12.9-inch version starts at $1,099. Here’s how the new iPad Pro models stacks up to their predecessors.

The 2021 iPad Pro has the same resolution as the 2020 iPad Pro, but the new 12.9-inch edition uses a mini-LED design versus the standard LED backlight found on the 2020 model. Mini-LED can provide better contrast and higher peak brightness to create a more realistic image with better high dynamic range (HDR) performance.

2021 iPad Pro models also incorporate a faster CPU and better graphics performance thank to the addition of Apple’s M1 chip. We’ve been impressed with the performance improvements this chip makes in other recent Apple products, like the MacBook Air.

Other upgrades include new support for 5G on cellular models, as well as a new option for up to 2TB of storage versus last year’s max of 1TB. The front camera has been upgraded as well, making the jump from 7MP to 12MP.

These improvements make the new iPad Pro a better buy for power users over the previous version, especially the 12.9-inch model thanks to its advanced display. That said, we view this as more of a mid-cycle upgrade rather than a full overhaul.

Apple iPad Pro (2021) versus Apple iPad Pro (2020)

Specifications 2021 iPad Pro 2020 iPad Pro
Starting price $799 for 11-inch, $1,099 for $12.9-inch $799 for 11-inch, $999 for $12.9-inch
Display Up to 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED display Up to 12.9-inch Liquid Retina display
Processor Apple M1 Apple 12Z Bionic
Rear Camera 12-megapixel wide-angle, 10-megapixel ultra-wide-angle 12-megapixel wide-angle, 10-megapixel ultra-wide-angle
Front Camera 12 megapixels 7 megapixels
Ports USB-C, Thunderbolt/USB 4 support USB-C
Battery Life Up to 10 hours Up to 10 hours
Biometrics Face ID Face ID
Storage Options Up to 2TB Up to 1TB
Cellular connectivity 5G, 4G LTE 4G LTE

2021 iPad Pro (small)

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Billie vs. Flamingo razors – how 2 popular startups trying to change women’s shaving compare

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Billie Vs. Flamingo 4x3
  • Billie and Flamingo are two women’s shaving startups making sharp and affordable razors.
  • Billie is a subscription service, while Flamingo is not. Both sell a $9 razor with $9 refills.
  • We compared the two companies so you can decide which is better for your shaving needs.

Shaving, if you choose to do it, is usually an inefficient and time-intensive process. It’s also one of those personal-care habits that quietly sucks the money out of your wallet (for some, more quickly than others depending on how often you shave).

Online startups like Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club brought fresh changes to the shaving industry by making sharp, high-quality razors and sending them to your door for less. Not only men used their products. Women did, too, but there was always the sense the razor designs and skincare products could be better tailored to women’s needs.

Two startups, Billie and Flamingo, are finally making women’s lives easier with their affordable shaving solutions. As the two biggest disruptors of the women’s shaving scene, they’re often compared – which is better, Billie or Flamingo?

To help you decide which new women’s shaving brand is for you, we put them side by side and looked more closely at what products they sell, how much you’ll pay, and the shaving experiences themselves.

We’ve tried the razors and bodycare products from both companies (you can read our Billie review here and our Flamingo review here), so we can offer our personal takes alongside the factual details.

Learn about the similarities and differences between these two leading women’s shaving startups below.

Shop razors and shaving products at Billie here

Shop razors and shaving products at Flamingo here

How Billie and Flamingo came into existence

billie vs flamingo razor 5

Billie, founded in 2017, is taking a stand against the pink tax — which upcharges women’s personal-care products — by creating a razor priced in line with affordable men’s razors. It offers realistic portrayals of body hair in its ads and images, and it donates 1% of all revenue to women’s causes around the world. 

Flamingo was introduced in 2018 by Harry’s, the men’s grooming brand that first launched its subscription-based razor products in 2013. Though more than a million women were using Harry’s products for themselves, the Harry’s team knew that they could be better optimized for how women shave their legs, armpits, and bikini lines. Flamingo is led by two Harry’s veterans who have been with the company since its start, and it uses the same blades as Harry’s razors. 

How the services and products work

billie vs flamingo razor 6

Billie is a subscription service that sells shaving and body products. After getting its $9 Starter Kit, you’ll receive four replacement cartridges for $9 on an ongoing basis. 

To get started, you’ll choose your favorite handle color and how often you’d like to receive the replacement cartridges. If you shave every day, Billie will deliver once a month; a few times a week, every two months; and once a week, every three months. You can change this frequency at any point later. Then, add an optional shave cream ($8), lotion ($12), makeup wipes ($9), or travel case ($5) to your order. 

Flamingo lets you buy all of its shaving, waxing, and body products a la carte. There is no subscription plan, so you can buy refills whenever you need them. Most new customers start with the $16 Shave Set.

Taking a closer look at their starter shave kits

billie vs flamingo razor

Billie‘s Starter Kit costs $9 and includes a handle, two five-blade cartridges, and a magnetic holder. 

Flamingo‘s Shave Set costs $16 and includes a handle, two five-blade cartridges, 1 oz. foaming shave gel, 3 oz. body lotion, a shower hook, and a reusable pouch. 

What the razor looks like

billie vs flamingo razor 7

The Billie razor handle comes in six colors, in various shades of pink and blue. It has a five-blade cartridge made with USA-sharpened and assembled steel. The blades are encased in a charcoal shave soap and the cartridge has rounded edges. 

The Flamingo razor handle comes in three colors, with metallic accents. Its five-blade cartridge features German-engineered blades (Harry’s owns the German factory where the blades are made), a hydrating strip formulated with aloe vera, rounded edges, and a flexible hinge. 

I shaved with both Billie’s and Flamingo’s products to compare the experiences. Both gave me a smooth, close shave but in different ways.

billie vs flamingo razor

I used the Billie razor with the Shave Cream ($8), a non-aerosol cream made with soothing and gentle ingredients like aloe, sage, shea butter, and grapefruit and free from synthetic fragrances, parabens, and sulfates. I’m a sucker for anything grapefruit-flavored or scented, so right away I loved the cream. It’s not super thick, but since the blades already have soap built into them, you don’t need to use a lot of cream. 

The Billie razor felt comfortable in my hand. Though the cartridge has a hinge, I thought the angle and design didn’t allow it to go as far back as I would’ve liked. I was still able to tackle every inch of hair on my legs and armpits thanks to its sharp blades — I just had to be more careful and intentional. 

Meanwhile, the Flamingo razor pairs with a Foaming Shave Gel ($5), which comes in an aerosol can. Its key ingredients include aloe vera as well as conditioning emollients. Its gel is also paraben- and sulfate-free. This thick gel foamed up nicely and felt luxuriously smooth on my skin. 

I found the Flamingo razor handle, with its textured rubber grip, was easier to hold and less likely to slip from my fingers. The flexible hinge also helped me better get into tricky curves and corners. Like my experience with Billie, the sharp blades were ultimately the most impressive and important feature of the razor. 

The accessories and other bodycare products are also factors worth considering.

billie vs flamingo razor 3

Both Billie and Flamingo razors come with a wall accessory to hold it and keep it within reach in your shower. Billie‘s is a triangular magnetic holder that your razor sticks to, while Flamingo‘s is a circular suction grip that your razor clicks into. 

Whether because my shower wall was too wet when I stuck these holders to it, or these accessories simply weren’t strong enough, either the holder or the razor often fell off. While the idea is great, I wouldn’t rely too much on these holders. 

To supplement your body-care routine, I do recommend trying both companies’ lotions and body washes. The Billie Sudsy Body Wash ($9), made with grapefruit, coconut, rosa canina, and aloe vera, cleanses and preps your skin before you shave, and the Dry-Bye Body Lotion ($12) is formulated with grape seed, chamomile, shea butter, and aloe vera for perfect post-shave moisturization.

Flamingo doesn’t have a body wash, but its Body Lotion ($8) features the key ingredients of white willowbark extract and papaya fruit extract (for hydration) and a derivative of sugar cane (for moisturization). 

Overall, the pricing is similar – and affordable.

flamingo razor review

Billie:

Flamingo:

Which company’s razors should you shave with? Here’s the bottom line.

My Billie Starter Kit

The best women’s shaving brand for you depends on your shaving habits and preferences. With both Billie and Flamingo, you’re getting sharp blades that will get rid of your body hair efficiently, at an affordable price. 

If you shave at a consistent schedule, Billie will be better for you because of its convenient and automatic subscription service. It’s easy to add on supplementary products to your order, and subscribing is also the only way to get replacement cartridges. 

If you’re on less of a schedule and want to order refills as you go, you’ll be better off with Flamingo. Its Shave Set offers a good introduction to its products, and it’s affordable at less than $20. You should also shop Flamingo if you’ve used and liked Harry’s razors in the past but want a design better suited to your body. 

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The new Apple TV 4K has a better Siri remote than the 2017 model, but not much else – here’s how they compare

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Apple TV 4K 2021
The 2021 Apple TV 4K is the same size as the old version, but the new Siri Remote is longer and slimmer with more precise controls.

  • A new Apple TV 4K is coming in May, replacing the 2017 model for the same $179 price.
  • The 2021 Apple TV 4K boasts an improved processor, updated Siri remote, and high frame rate support.
  • That said, most people who already own the 2017 model will find little need to upgrade.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyTV 4K (2021) (small)TV 4K (2017) (small)

Apple has revealed an updated Apple TV 4K streaming device and new Siri voice remote. The upgraded device will replace the current Apple TV 4K model in late May.

The updated Apple TV 4K features an upgraded A12 processor while the new Siri remote offers more precise controls than its predecessor. Preorders of the new Apple TV 4K will be available on April 30; the 32GB model starts at $179 while the 64GB model is $200.

The new Siri remote will be sold separately for $59, and will be compatible with older Apple TV devices following a software update in late April.

Apple last updated the Apple TV lineup in 2017, when it added support for 4K playback and HDR color formats. In terms of size, the new Apple TV 4K and the 2017 models are the exact same dimensions and weight. The new Siri remote is about half an inch longer, slightly thinner, and 0.6 lbs heavier than the original remote.

The new Siri remote has been upgraded to Bluetooth 5.0 and will also be able to control other devices like smart TVs and receivers via CEC. The original Siri remote had an accelerometer and gyroscope for use while gaming, but all versions of the Apple TV now support Bluetooth gamepads like the Xbox and PlayStation controllers.

Apple TV 4K’s processor has been improved from an A10X Fusion chip to a new A12 Bionic chip, allowing for higher frame rates when watching video or playing games via Apple Arcade. Other Apple TV 4K improvements include a new HDMI 2.1 port and support for Wi-Fi 6.

These improvements make the new Apple TV 4K model an enticing option for anyone who’s shopping for a high-end streaming device. Based on the specs, however, the improvements likely won’t be enough to justify an upgrade for most people who already own the 2017 model.

2021 Apple TV 4K vs. 2017 Apple TV 4K specifications

Specifications

Apple TV 4K (2021)

Apple TV 4K (2017)

Processor

A12 Bionic (64-bit)

A10 Fusion (64-bit)

Dimensions

1.4 (H) x 3.9 (W) x 3.9 (D)

1.4 (H) x 3.9 (W) x 3.9 (D)

Weight

15 ounces (425 grams)

15 ounces (425 grams)

Storage

32GB; 64GB

32GB; 64GB

HDMI

HDMI 2.1

HDMI 2.0a

Wireless

Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 (2.4GHz and 5GHz)

Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz and 5GHz)

Ethernet

Gigabit Ethernet

Gigabit Ethernet

TV 4K (2021) (small)TV 4K (2017) (small)

Siri remote specifications

Specifications

Siri Remote (2021)

Siri Remote (2017)

Dimensions

5.4 (H) x 1.4 (W) x 0.36 (D) inches

4.8 (H) x 1.5 (W) x 0.25 (D)

Battery

Rechargeable via Lightning connector port

Rechargeable via Lightning connector port

Microphones

Single microphone

Dual microphones

Wireless

Bluetooth 5.0, IR transmitter, CEC compatible

Bluetooth 4.0, IR transmitter

Buttons

Touch clickpad, jogwheel, TV/Home, Play/Pause, Back, Mute, Volume, Siri, Power

Touch surface, Menu, TV/Home, Siri, Play/Pause, Volume

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Apple’s new iMac is faster, bigger, and more colorful than before – here’s how it compares to the 2019 iMac

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Apple iMac 2021
  • Apple’s new 24-inch iMac marks a major redesign of its desktop computer.
  • The 2021 iMac features a bigger 4.5K Retina screen, fun color options, and Apple’s powerful M1 chip.
  • The 2019 model, meanwhile, has a smaller 21.5-inch 1080p display and a slower Intel-based processor.

Apple has officially unveiled its new 24-inch iMac with prices starting at $1,299. The redesigned desktop boasts several major upgrades over the previous 21.5-inch model, which Apple currently lists with a $1,099 starting price.

The 2021 iMac is the first to feature Apple’s powerful M1 chip. It also comes in a variety of color options and boasts a higher resolution screen. Compared to the older model, the new iMac includes a redesigned keyboard with Apple’s Touch ID processor as well.

Apple says the improved specs should translate to up to 85% faster CPU performance compared to the 21.5-inch iMac, as well as twice the GPU performance. The new iMac’s base model costs $200 more than the 2019 starting model, but the added power and bigger screen could be well worth the higher price.

A full verdict will have to wait until we get our hands on the new iMac in the coming weeks, but we’ve been impressed by Apple’s M1 chip in the new MacBook Air. If the 2021 iMac offers a similar leap in performance, it could be a very worthy desktop upgrade.

Below, we’ve compared some of the key starting specifications for the new 24-inch iMac versus the 21.5-inch model.

24-inch iMac (2021) versus 21.5-inch iMac (2019)

Specifications 2021 iMac 2019 iMac
Starting price $1,299 $1,099
Display 24-inch 4.5K Retina display 21.5-inch 1920 x 1080 LED display
Processor 8-core Apple M1 chip 2.3GHz dual‑core Intel Core i5
GPU 7-core GPU Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
Memory 8GB of RAM 8GB of RAM
Storage 256GB SSD 256GB SSD
Camera 1080p FaceTime HD camera with M1 image signal processor FaceTime HD camera
Speakers Six-speaker system with force-cancelling woofers Stereo speakers
Colors Blue, Green, Pink, Silver Silver

iMac (small)

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Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro put Apple’s AirPods Pro to shame with better sound and noise cancellation

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airpods pro vs galaxy buds pro comparison

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyProduct Card (small, Preferred: Amazon)AirPods Pro (small)

Apple’s AirPods Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro represent the best that these mobile behemoths have to offer in the wireless earbuds space.

Both models feature premium sound, noise cancellation, good battery life, and wireless charging cases. They’re ideal alternatives for larger headphones, like over-ear models, that aren’t nearly as portable.

While both sets of wireless earbuds are specifically designed for their respective mobile platforms, they can be used with any Bluetooth phone, tablet, or computer.

That said, neither of these earbuds offer their full functionality if you use them outside the ecosystem they were designed for. You’ll lose the ability to control certain key features, like noise cancellation, built-in controls, and voice assistants. That’s because, unsurprisingly, neither Apple nor Samsung have made the necessary apps for finer controls on their rival platforms.

As a result, iPhone users shouldn’t really consider the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, and likewise, Android users shouldn’t buy the Apple AirPods Pro. Still, it’s worth comparing these flagship earbuds to see how headphones from two of the biggest names in tech stack up. Here’s how the AirPods Pro and Galaxy Buds Pro compare across several key categories.

Specifications

Apple AirPods Pro Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Drivers: Custom high-excursion Apple driver 11mm woofer, 6.5mm tweeter
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Codecs: AAC SBC, AAC, Samsung proprietary Scalable
Battery life: Four and a half hours with noise cancellation on, five with noise cancellation and Transparency mode off, 24 hours total with wireless charging case included Five hours for earbuds, 13 hours for the charging case, 18 hours total including battery from charging case
Charging: Five-minute quick charge for an hour of playback; Qi wireless charging support; Lightning cable Three-minute quick-charge for 30 minutes of music playback, two hours for full earbud charge; wireless charging support; USB-C charging
App: Built-in settings in iOS Galaxy Wear for Android
Water resistance: IPX4 IPX7

Design and comfort

The stem design of the white AirPods Pro is now iconic and immediately recognizable. Even with their stem, the AirPods Pro are incredibly compact and lightweight.

They’re also supremely comfortable, even for users who don’t typically like the in-ear fit the AirPods Pro employ. Instead of fitting like a pair of earplugs, like many in-ear earphones, the AirPods Pro rest comfortably and securely in your ear canal’s opening.

Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro have a more discreet design that few would recognize, and they’re available in silver, black, and violet colors. They’re equally compact as the AirPods Pro, and they’re barely visible when you’re wearing them.

The Galaxy Buds Pro are almost as comfortable as the AirPods Pro, except they feel more like earplugs with a deeper fit and a bit more pressure. As a result, they’re very secure in your ear.

AirPods Pro vs Galaxy Buds Pro 4x3

Sound quality

There’s no competition here – Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro sound noticeably better than the AirPods Pro. It’s not that the AirPods Pro sound bad, it’s just that Samsung really demonstrates what’s possible at the $200 price point.

The Galaxy Buds Pro have a rich, full, clear, and dynamic sound that makes the AirPods Pro seem thin and flat by comparison. I enjoy my music far more with the Galaxy Buds Pro than I do with AirPods Pro.

I tried all the different ear tips that come included with the AirPods Pro to make sure it wasn’t a fit issue, and I ensured that I had a good fit using the built-in Ear Tip Test in the iOS settings.

Apple doesn’t include an equalizer for the AirPods Pro, but it does implement its own Adaptive EQ feature that “automatically tunes music to the shape of your ear for a rich, consistent listening experience.” Consistent it is, rich it is not. Unfortunately, there’s no option to disable Adaptive EQ to see if it could make any difference. Spotify has its own built-in equalizer settings, but no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the AirPods Pro to sound any better.

Noise cancellation

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro also outdo the AirPods Pro with their noise-cancelling performance. Again, it’s not that the AirPods Pro have poor noise cancellation, it’s just that Samsung shows that it’s possible to get better performance at $200.

To be sure, the AirPods Pro work just fine in an office/home office environment, where low hums and minor ambient sound are well muffled. Once you bring them to a noisier environment, however, like on a plane or outside in a city, the Galaxy Buds Pro show the AirPods Pro how it’s done.

Battery life

Both sets of wireless earbuds deliver similar battery life, with the AirPods Pro edging out the Galaxy Buds Pro in the wireless charging case capacity.

The Galaxy Buds Pro themselves can play music for up to five hours with active noise cancellation enabled, and eight hours with noise cancellation off, per Samsung’s claim. The wireless charging case can hold up to 13 hours of charge, which sums up to a total of 18 hours of music playback. A quick three-minute charge in the case will give 30 minutes of battery life – something we tested and proved when the buds were accidentally left out of their case to discharge.

Apple claims the AirPods Pro can last four and a half hours with noise cancellation turned on, and five hours with it turned off. With a full charge on the buds and a full battery in the case, the AirPods Pro are capable of up to 24 hours of playback. A five-minute charge gives an extra hour of battery life to the buds themselves.

AirPods Pro vs. Galaxy Buds Pro cases

Apps, features, and controls

Apple offers minimalist options for the AirPods Pro in the built-in iOS settings, at least when compared with the Galaxy Buds Pro and the Galaxy Wear Android app.

AirPods Pro app

For the AirPods Pro, you get noise control that lets you choose between noise cancellation enabled or disabled, and a transparency mode that amplifies ambient noise for awareness and quick conversations.

You can customize whether pressing and holding the AirPods Pro stems activates Siri or toggles through the noise control settings. You also get Apple’s “Spatial Audio” feature, which is basically Apple’s version of surround sound. The built-in demo in the iOS settings is impressive, but it only works with compatible videos, and I’ve never encountered a video that supports Spatial Audio yet.

Galaxy Buds Pro app

For the Galaxy Buds Pro, you get significantly more control and options. Like the AirPods Pro, you get noise controls that enable/disable noise cancellation and toggle an Ambient Sound mode.

The Galaxy Buds Pro also have a Voice Detect feature that automatically enables Ambient Sound mode and pauses your music when you start talking. It works surprisingly well for engaging in quick conversations while you’re listening to music, and it’s nice that it’s automatic.

You can also manage what touching and holding the sensors on the buds do, whether it’s switching through noise controls, enabling Bixby (Samsung’s version of Siri), adjusting volume, or opening the Spotify app on your phone.

There’s also a built-in equalizer and an option for 360 audio, which is surround sound for video. Unlike Apple’s Spatial Audio, this feature isn’t dependent on whether a video supports 360 or not.

Multiple device connections

Both earbuds can connect to multiple devices simultaneously within their respective ecosystems. For example, you can listen to music or watch a video on your Mac and pick up a phone call on your iPhone, and the AirPods Pro connection will switch automatically. Likewise, the Galaxy Buds Pro automatically switch between other Samsung Galaxy products, but this feature doesn’t work with all Android devices.

It’s unfortunate that this feature is restricted to specific ecosystems, as some over-ear headphones can maintain multiple device connections across platforms with Multipoint Bluetooth technology. That said, there are a few wireless earbuds that don’t even come with automatic switching at all.

Water resistance

Another important feature is water resistance, which mostly applies for sweat during workouts, or rain. The Galaxy Buds Pro are rated at an IPX7 water resistance, while the AirPods Pro are rated at IPX4. Technically, IPX7 is better, but IPX4 shouldn’t pose a problem for rain splashes or sweat.

Which should you buy?

iPhone owners who value a compact design, wireless charging case, Siri capabilities, and support for connecting to other Apple devices with automatic switching, should go for the AirPods Pro.

But if you’re not in a rush, it might be worth waiting since Apple is expected to release new versions of the AirPods and AirPods Pro this year, according to Bloomberg.

Both models will reportedly come with a new Apple wireless chip, and the Pro earbuds are expected to feature a sleeker design. The entry-level AirPods will also get a slimmer look, longer battery life, and swappable ear tips, according to the report, but no noise cancellation.

It’s unclear exactly when the new AirPods Pro will launch, but the report says the cheaper version could debut in the first half of 2021.

For Android users, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are among the best wireless earbuds you can get. The best alternative in the $200 range is the Sony WF-1000XM3, but you’d be missing out on a wireless charging case, and the Sony case is rather large compared to the Galaxy Buds Pro’s.

Product Card (small, Preferred: Amazon)AirPods Pro (small)

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I’ve been using Apple’s iPad Pro and iPad Air to see which is right for most people, and the more affordable Air is the obvious choice

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ipad pro (2020) vs ipad air (2020) 4x3

  • The iPad Air is best for most people since it offers some of the Pro’s best features for less.
  • The iPad Pro is only worth it if you need a larger screen and a better camera.
  • Check out our guide to the best iPad cases.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyProduct Card (small)Product Card (small)

With iPads available at different sizes and prices, it can be difficult to know which model is right for you. Is it worth splurging on the $800 iPad Pro, or should you go for Apple’s less expensive, but still fairly pricey $600 iPad Air? Both tablets share many similarities, particularly when it comes to their size, design, and compatibility with accessories.

Just like any other shopping decision, figuring out which iPad is right for you comes down to one important question: What do you intend to use it for? The iPad Air and iPad Pro may look alike, especially if you’re eyeballing the 11-inch iPad Pro, but they come with some nuanced differences that are worth considering.

Those differences could become more pronounced in the next week, as Apple is holding an event on April 20th where it is expected to release new iPad Pros. We’ll be sure to update our recommendations as soon as we get our hands on the new product.

Overall, the iPad Air is the better choice for most people. Its new design gives it a more modern look that feels similar to the iPad Pro and Apple’s latest iPhones, it’s powerful enough for gaming, productivity, and basic tasks, and it’s incredibly lightweight. The Pro, on the other hand, comes with a few extra features that could be useful for specific circumstances and workflows, but aren’t necessary for most people.

Here’s a closer look at how the two compare.

Apple iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: Which is best?

iPad Air Apple Pencil
The 2020 iPad Air and Apple Pencil

The iPad Air’s more affordable price and powerful chip that matches the one in Apple’s iPhone 12 lineup make it a great choice for anyone looking for a tablet that serves well for both work and play.

You’re not missing out on much by opting for the Air instead of the Pro. The most important factor in deciding between the two – other than the option for a larger 12.9-inch screen – comes down to the processor and camera. The A12Z Bionic chip in the iPad Pro should be better-suited for graphics performance compared to the Air, which could make it a superior choice for video and photo editors.

The iPad Pro also has a dual-lens camera with an ultra-wide-angle camera unlike the iPad Air, and since it has Face ID it can also capture Portrait Mode selfies unlike the Air. Other iPad Pro features that are missing from the iPad Air include a display that can increase its refresh rate for smoother scrolling, more storage space, and a LiDAR sensor for measuring depth.

But, the iPad Air has a lot of the other benefits that were previously only available on the Pro, such as a nearly borderless screen, USB-C charging, and compatibility with Apple accessories like the Magic Keyboard, Smart Folio Keyboard Case, and second-generation Apple Pencil.

Apple iPad Air vs. iPad Pro Specifications

iPad Air (2020)

iPad Pro (2020)
Starting price $599 $799
Display size 10.9 inches 11 inches or 12.9 inches
Display resolution 2360 x 1640, 264 pixels per inch 2388 x 1668 , 264 pixels per inch (11-inch) or 2732 x 2048, 264 pixels per inch (12.9-inch)
Processor A14 Bionic A12Z Bionic
Camera (rear) 12-MP wide lens 12-MP wide lens, 10-MP ultra-wide lens
Camera (front) 7-MP 7-MP
Storage 64GB, 256GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB,1TB
Sensors and biometrics Touch ID Face ID, LiDAR
Audio Two speakers Four speakers
Battery Life 10 hours on Wi-Fi 10 hours on Wi-Fi
Ports USB-C USB-C
Colors Silver, space gray, rose gold, green, sky blue Silver or space gray

Design and display

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 inch 128 GB
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 inch 128 GB.

If it’s been a while since you’ve upgraded your iPad, the look and feel of both the iPad Air and iPad Pro will feel new and fresh.

Both tablets have Apple’s more modern design that features a display that nearly covers the entire front of the tablet and flat aluminum edges, distinguishing them from the standard iPad and iPad Mini. Those tablets, comparatively, have the familiar Touch ID home button, curved edges, and thicker borders located above and below the display.

Both the Air and Pro have a sleek and sharp look that’s not only more aesthetically pleasing, but is also more comfortable to hold. The iPad Air and Pro each have their advantages when it comes to choice. The iPad Pro, for example, is available in two different sizes – 11 inches and 12.9-inches – while the Air only comes in one 10.9-inch option. That bigger 12.9-inch model starts at $1,000.

But, the Air comes in more color options, with choices including silver, space gray, rose gold, green, and blue, while the Pro is only available in silver and space gray. The iPad Air also has Touch ID integrated into the top button, unlike the iPad Pro which instead has Face ID. That could factor into your decision depending on your preference.

iPad Air Landscape
The 2020 iPad Air

When it comes to their displays, both tablets have screens that pack 264 pixels per inch and are capable of offering a crisp and colorful viewing experience. When viewing them side-by-side, both screens look almost identical, displaying bold color and sharp detail. The only somewhat noticeable difference is that the iPad Pro’s screen is slightly brighter at 600 nits compared to the iPad Air’s 500-nit display.

They also both have Apple’s TrueTone feature, which adjusts the display’s color to match surrounding lighting conditions, and support for P3 Wide Color. But, the iPad Pro has ProMotion technology, which can boost the screen’s refresh rate up to 120Hz depending on the content being displayed. This could be useful for artists who plan to do a lot of sketching with the Apple Pencil on their iPad, but I didn’t experience much of a difference when drawing and coloring on both the iPad Air and iPad Pro.

All told, both tablets have slim, lightweight designs and screens that are plenty sharp enough for watching movies, viewing photos, reading, and working. But, the Pro’s screen is more fluid and comes in two different size options, while the Air offers more selection when it comes to color choices.

Performance

iPad Air Game
The 2020 iPad AIr

Apple’s iPad Pro and iPad Air both run on some of the company’s most powerful mobile chips. Driving the iPad Air is Apple’s A14 Bionic, the same processor found inside the iPhone 12 and the first one to be built on Apple’s 5-nanometer (nm) manufacturing process. That means the company was able to cram even more transistors into this chip for improved performance and battery life.

But, the iPad Pro’s A12Z chip has more cores when it comes to its central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU), which should make it better at multitasking and graphically-intensive tasks like photo and video editing. The A12Z’s has an eight-core CPU and an eight-core GPU, while the iPad Air’s A14 Bionic has a six-core CPU and a four-core GPU.

Still, in most real-world scenarios, the differences in performance aren’t very noticeable. From sketching with the Apple Pencil to launching apps and playing games, the iPad Pro and iPad Air perform pretty much the same.

The Apple Pencil feels buttery smooth when drawing in Adobe Illustrator, and the first-person shooter “Shadowgun: Legends” runs seamlessly when set to the ultra-high graphics setting on either tablet. Editing photos and processing changes made to images in apps like FaceTune 2 and Adobe Lightroom is also a breeze on both the iPad Pro and iPad Air.

However, there are some differences in performance when exporting video clips, although it varies depending on the app being used. When exporting a 4K 25-second video clip to 1080p in Adobe Rush, the iPad Air is surprisingly, noticeably faster than the iPad Pro in every instance during my testing.

The iPad Air exported the clip in between 10 and 11 seconds, while the iPad Pro took between one and two minutes. But, when exporting a 25-second 4K video from iMovie, the iPad Pro beat the iPad Air by about 10 seconds every time.

When it comes to benchmark tests designed to simulate real-world app usage and graphics performance, the iPad Air and iPad Pro each excel in different areas. During Geekbench 5’s test that’s meant to assess the single-core performance of a device’s processor, the iPad Air’s A14 Bionic chip scored higher than the iPad Pro’s A12Z processor.

The iPad Air scored an average of 1,583 on this test while the iPad Pro scored 1,116. Yet the iPad Pro outscored the iPad Air during Geekbench’s test for measuring multi-core performance, which isn’t entirely surprising since the A12Z Bionic processor has more cores than the A14 Bionic. The iPad Pro had an average score of 4,676 during this test, while the iPad Air scored 4,257 on average.

The iPad Pro also scored higher than the Air on 3DMark Wild Life, a benchmark that measures graphics performance by rendering a demanding scene that simulates a video game in real time. Apple’s high-end tablet scored an average of 13,483 and reached 80 frames per second (fps), while the iPad Air scored an average of 8,895 and with a frame rate of 53 fps.

All told, the iPad Air’s performance is more than enough power for gaming, productivity, web browsing, and photo editing. But, the Pro should have a little bit of an edge when it comes to graphically demanding tasks, although it’s unclear why it performs more slowly than the Air in Adobe Rush.

Accessories

iPad Pro Keyboard 3
The iPad Pro being used with Apple’s Magic Keyboard

Another characteristic that the iPad Pro and latest iPad Air share: they each work with Apple’s latest accessories. Both tablets are compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil, which launched in 2018 and charges and pairs by magnetically attaching to the iPad.

The previous version required that you plug the stylus into the iPad’s Lightning connector. Not only was that a less convenient design, but it also became obsolete for the iPad Pro and newest Air now that they use USB-C instead.

Apple’s newest iPad Air and iPad Pro tablets also both work with the company’s Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio cases. The Magic Keyboard is Apple’s top-of-the-line keyboard that most closely resembles that of a laptop keyboard. It comes with tactile, comfortable keys and a trackpad, while the $179 Smart Folio Keyboard case is smaller with softer, shallower fabric-laden keys. Both keyboards are expensive, but the Magic Keyboard is especially pricey starting at $300.

Cameras and battery life

iPad Pro Camera
The iPad Pro’s double camera and LiDAR sensor

There are many similarities between the new iPad Air and iPad Pro, but one of the biggest ways in which they differ is in their cameras. The iPad Pro is the only Apple tablet to come with two cameras: a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 10-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens. That means you can take images with a broader field of view on the iPad Pro in addition to standard photos just like you can with the iPhone 12.

The iPad Pro also has a brighter flash than the iPad Air, which only has a single 12-megapixel wide angle camera. And since the iPad Pro supports Face ID, you can take selfies in Portrait Mode using the front-facing camera, another feature that’s missing from the iPad Air.

The iPad Pro was also the first Apple device to come with a LiDAR sensor, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging. This sensor enables the iPad to measure the distance between objects by detecting how long it takes for light to reach an object and reflect back. The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max also have this LiDAR sensor, but on the iPad Pro Apple is pushing this sensor as being ideal for augmented reality applications.

These types of apps also run just fine on the iPad Air, but the iPad Pro is noticeably faster in certain scenarios. For example, when using Apple’s digital tape measure app to determine the length and width of furniture in my living room, the iPad Pro can automatically detect and focus on surfaces much more quickly than the iPad Air.

The LiDAR sensor is a nice perk that will probably make the iPad Pro more useful for those with occupations that call for taking a lot of real-world measurements – perhaps architects, interior designers, and artists – but it shouldn’t be the only reason you’re considering buying the iPad Pro.

Both tablets are also estimated to last for 10 hours when browsing the web and watching video on Wi-Fi, which I found to be generally accurate during my anecdotal testing.

The bottom line

iPad Air Screen
The iPad Air

Overall, the iPad Air is a better choice for those interested in a tablet for entertainment, general usage like browsing the web and checking email, and some light productivity. It has the same thin and sleek design as the iPad Pro, a sharp screen, powerful performance, and is compatible with the same accessories as the Pro. Not to mention, it also charges via USB-C instead of Lightning like the iPad Pro, so you can use your non-iPhone chargers with it.

The iPad Pro is only worth it if you intend to use it in a specific way that calls for a larger screen, a dual camera, and a LiDAR sensor, perhaps making it better-suited for artists, graphic designers, and others working in creative fields.

If you do feel like the iPad Pro is a better fit, don’t buy one just yet. Apple is expected to announce two new iPad Pros at an event on April 20 with improved processors similar to the M1 chip in the latest MacBook laptops, according to Bloomberg. That processor brought big gains in performance and battery life to Apple’s laptops, and the 12.9-inch model is also said to come with a better micro-LED screen for enhanced contrast. Even if you don’t need the newest model, you might be able to find the current iPad Pro at a discount once the updated versions debut.

iPad Air

Product Card (button)

iPad Pro

Product Card (button)

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Teva vs. Chaco – here’s how the 2 most popular sport sandals compare

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tevas vs chacos
The author’s Chacos (left) and Tevas (right).

  • Teva and Chaco are two wildly popular sport sandals in the outdoor community.
  • While both are practical and comfortable, they differ in design, feel, price, and color selection.
  • We compared them side by side to help you choose the right pair for your needs and preferences.

Z/1 Classic Sandal (small)Hurricane XLT 2 Sandal (Men’s) (small)

Many great debates rage on in the world of consumer products. Apple or Samsung? Coke or Pepsi? Canon or Nikon?

If you’re looking at sport sandals, we know the big question on your mind is: Tevas or Chacos?

These popular outdoor sandals were both born out of necessity. In the 1980s, two river guides, one in Arizona and the other in Colorado, needed comfortable footwear solutions that would keep their shoes on their feet and prevent their feet from wrinkling into prunes every day.

They had these basic needs in common, but from there the river splits. The sandal designs they ultimately came up with look and feel quite different. We like and have covered both Teva and Chaco sandals, delving into their history, design, and impact on the fashion and outdoor industries.

Now, here’s a direct comparison that will let you easily decide which sandals are right for you.

We compared the Teva Hurricane XLT 2 Sandals and the Chaco Z/1 Classic Sandals on features like their strap system, footbed, arch design, and color selection in order to help you determine whether you’re Team Tevas or Team Chacos.

See how Teva sandals and Chaco sandals compare below:

Strap design and materials

tevas vs chacos 2

An easy way to tell Tevas and Chacos apart is their strap designs. Teva straps line the sides of your feet while Chaco straps wrap across the tops of your feet. 

Teva straps support the tops, sides, and ankles of your feet and have Velcro to allow for fit adjustments. They’re made from water-friendly, quick-drying webbing that’s made from polyester, nylon, and recycled PET. 

Chaco straps include a buckle, criss-cross each other, and are actually one long, continuous strap. This gives your feet the feeling of being wrapped. You adjust the fit at each part of the foot by pulling that area of the strap. They’re made from water-friendly, quick-drying polyester jacquard webbing.

Footbed materials and feel

tevas vs chacos 6

The footbed is what your feet are in contact with all day as you wear these sandals. Here’s how the footbeds differ:

Tevas feel soft, smooth, and cushioned.

Chacos have a slightly textured footbed that feels more dry. 

Midsole and arch design

tevas vs chacos 4

Depending on the shape of your feet and the level of support you want, you’ll like one brand more than the other.  

Tevas have a lower arch and make you feel like you’re walking closer to the ground. I have fairly flat feet and found Tevas to be more comfortable than Chacos. The midsole is made from lightweight and flexible EVA foam, which feels cushioned and bouncy. 

Chacos have a high arch, with a thicker midsole at the heel than Tevas. If your feet have high arches, they’ll be more comfortable in Chacos. The midsole is made from PU foam, which is a little heavier than EVA foam, but has a longer-lasting bounce. 

Outsole

tevas vs chacos 7

While the outsoles have different designs, both Tevas and Chacos provide strong traction, allowing you to walk across all types of terrain — smooth tile, rocky trails, slippery rocks, and more. 

Weight

tevas vs chacos 9

Both shoes are excellent lightweight footwear options that won’t weigh you down as you trek miles and miles on your travels or hikes. 

Tevas are lighter. One pair weighs 1 pound, 4 ounces. 

Chacos are heavier. One pair weighs 1 pound, 5.2 ounces. 

Color and pattern options

tevas vs chacos 10

Sport sandals, like all shoes, can be a reflection of your personal style. You’ll be able to choose from a variety of colors and patterns from each brand. 

Tevas come in many neutral and bright colors, as well as prints. Some styles are part of limited-edition collections, but if you aren’t able to find the one you want on Teva’s website, you might have better luck checking another online retailer such as REI. 

Chacos also come in many neutral and bright colors, as well as prints. The brand also features limited-edition collections. To ensure your pair never gets mixed up with another person’s, you can create a custom pair. This process lets you customize everything from the main strap to the logo badge. You can even upload your own image as a print or add embroidery. 

The bottom line

tevas vs chacos 8

After trying the sandals from Teva and Chaco, we’ve learned they’re both very comfortable and supportive. But you should use the following points to figure out which pair you should buy. 

Buy Tevas if: You have flat or less arched feet, you don’t mind Velcro straps, and you want a softer footbed. 

Tevas retail for $70, but you may be able to find them at lower prices at retailers such as Amazon and REI. 

Shop the Teva Hurricane XLT 2 sandals (Men’s) here:

Hurricane XLT 2 Sandal (Men’s) (button)

Shop the Teva Hurricane XLT 2 sandals (Women’s) here: 

Hurricane XLT 2 Sandal (Women’s) (button)

Buy Chacos if: You have high arches, like the look of the single-wrapped strap, and want a more “dry” feel. There are also more color and pattern options thanks to the customization feature. 

Chacos are more expensive and retail for $105, but you may be able to find them at lower prices at retailers such as Amazon and REI. 

Shop the Chaco Z/1 Classic sandals (Men’s) here: 

Z/1 Classic Sandal (Men’s) (button)

Shop the Chaco Z/1 Classic sandals (Women’s) here: 

Z/1 Classic Sandal (Women’s) (button)

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon Music and Spotify are both reliable music streaming services, but Spotify’s personalization features make it a better fit for most people

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Google Hangouts vs Zoom 4x3
  • A good music streaming service is key to keep up with all the latest songs.
  • Amazon Music and Spotify are two of the most popular platforms you can subscribe to.
  • Both have big catalogs but Spotify’s playlists and sharing options are the best fit for most people.

Music Unlimited (small)Music Service (small)Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

There’s never been a better time to jump in and commit to a music streaming service than right now. The ability to save nearly any song to your library for on-demand listening at home or on the go is a game-changer. Spotify and Amazon Music are great services in this regard and both are well worth considering.

Each platform has around 70 million songs available, along with their own set of features. Both have apps for iPhones, Android smartphones, computers, and other popular devices so you’ll be able to listen in dozens of ways.

That said, there are a few differences that could make one service a better fit over the other. We compared the two across a variety of categories to help you decide which is right for you.

Amazon Music vs Spotify: which is better?

Spotify may be the world’s most popular streaming music service, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider Amazon Music. Both have a lot to offer in the unique features they provide.

In fact, Amazon Music appears to be trying hard to differentiate itself in the world of streaming by offering a plan with higher fidelity tracks, along with some nice perks for Amazon Prime members. Spotify, meanwhile, sticks to standard music bitrates and streamlined subscription offerings, which could make it a more convenient solution for people who just need a casual music listening service.

Let’s take a look at how each stacks up against the other in some key areas.

Feature comparison

Amazon Music Spotify
Monthly cost: Free-$20 Free-$15
Song catalog size: Around 70 million songs Around 70 million songs
High-fidelity music: Paid upgrade Coming later this year
Notable features: X-Ray lyrics, Alexa voice assistant Best in class playlists, podcast support
Platforms supported: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Web iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Web

Pricing and plans

Amazon Echo Light

Both Spotify and Amazon Music can be used for free, but the free tiers are significantly limited and largely amount to Internet radio on mobile. As is common, both services allow for 30-day trials to test their paid versions.

Spotify plans

The paid plans and pricing for Spotify are streamlined compared to Amazon. Plans include: Free, Premium, Premium Duo, and Premium Family, and Premium Student.

Spotify’s ad-supported plan is completely free. This option lets you listen to any song through the desktop app, but you do have to deal with constant ads. If you don’t want commercials, you can choose one of Spotify’s Premium plans. The more expensive options allow you to add more users, so multiple people in the same household can listen at the same time.

Spotify Free Spotify Premium Spotify Premium Duo Spotify Premium Family
Monthly price: Free $10 $13 $15
Ad-free music: No Yes Yes Yes
Accounts: One One Two Six
Song catalog: 70 million 70 million 70 million 70 million
CD-quality: No No No No

Students can also take advantage of a discounted Premium rate of just $5 a month. As a bonus, this plan also comes with a complimentary Hulu and Showtime subscription.

Amazon Music plans

Amazon Music features a few more options than Spotify. Plans include: Free, Included with Prime, Unlimited, Unlimited Family, Echo, and HD.

Amazon Music’s completely free option doesn’t let you listen to specific songs on-demand. Instead it offers an experience more like streaming radio with ads.

If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you get access to an expanded music service, called Amazon Prime Music, as part of your subscription. This plan is ad-free and has on-demand access to around 2 million songs. For access to Amazon’s full library of songs, however, you need to upgrade to a Music Unlimited plan for an extra fee.

Amazon Music Amazon Prime Music Amazon Music Unlimited Amazon Music Unlimited Family Amazon Music HD
Monthly price: Free Free with Amazon Prime $8 with Prime, $10 without $15 with Prime $13 with Prime, $15 without
Ad-free music: No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Accounts: One One One Six One
Song catalog: Select playlists and stations 2 million 70 million 70 million 70 million
CD-quality: No No No No Yes

Music Unlimited also offers the option to restrict streaming to a single Amazon device for a reduced fee. You can give a single, eligible Echo device access to Music Unlimited for just $4 a month (instead of the standard $10).

Audio quality

Spotify and Amazon Music both provide similar quality for their free and standard plans. Music streaming is compressed to reduce size and data requirements, but most people listening on mobile devices and earbuds likely won’t notice any major quality issues.

Where Amazon has an edge on Spotify, however, is with its Music HD plan. This higher priced option is designed for audiophiles and features CD-quality streaming that preserves the full range of the original recording. Some tracks are even provided in Ultra HD, which exceeds the specifications for CD-quality.

Amazon Music HD’s superior quality will be noticeable for some people, but to fully take advantage of the increased sound performance you’ll need expensive speakers or headphones.

Though Spotify doesn’t currently offer a CD-quality plan, the service will be adding that option, called Spotify HiFi, later this year.

Interface

spotify app
Spotify features an easy to use desktop app.

The look and feel of both streaming services is similar. Amazon and Spotify each feature a navigation bar across the bottom of their mobile apps with a home screen, search, and collected library of music.

While most people use music services through their mobile devices, both Spotify and Amazon Music do offer desktop apps as well. This is where the two experiences differ. Spotify’s desktop app is decent and has been refined over more than a decade. In March 2021, the streaming service announced it updated its desktop app’s interface to allow offline downloads and give “more control” for creating playlists.

The Amazon Music desktop app, on the other hand, is very utilitarian. The interface on a Mac is unintuitive and completely unlike its mobile app counterpart. For instance, the design makes it difficult to use the listening queue mechanism.

Amazon Music’s web interface is better and simpler to use. In Spotify’s case, it’s definitely an advantage to have such a solid desktop app.

Performance and features

Amazon Music Alexa feature
The Amazon Music mobile app offers integrated support for Alexa voice control.

On a macro level, Spotify and Amazon Music are closely aligned. For example, the catalog of songs available to listen to hardly varies at all, and any exclusives are mostly negligible. Each service does have its own set of features to set itself apart though.

For Amazon Music, its mobile app includes its Alexa voice assistant built-in. This functionality means that all music controls can be performed via hands-free voice commands. The version of Alexa accessible through the music app can also perform other skills. For example, you can ask Alexa to control smart lights the same as you would through an Echo. Spotify does offer a “Hey Spotify” feature that lets its members use their voice to find artists and songs, but its functionality isn’t as robust as Alexa.

The Amazon Music app’s other main feature includes X-Ray lyrics. This is a neat and genuinely helpful feature that allows lyrics to scroll by as the song plays for a karaoke-like experience.

Merch pages are also now attached to select artists’ profiles on Amazon Music to make it easier to buy their merchandise right from the Music app. Amazon Music introduced Car Mode in April 2021, as well, to provide a simplified, minimal interface for commuters.

Though these Amazon features are appealing, Spotify still has a clear edge when it comes to its great music algorithms, which the service puts to use in the form of personal playlists. “Discover Weekly” and other playlists definitely set the music service apart from others. If you don’t know what to listen to, you don’t have to suffer through generic radio.

Spotify also allows filters based on genres and moods. Playlists have an “enhance” button too, which can add random songs that are similar to the ones you’ve already included. A “recently played” option is also in the works that will allow users to look back at their past three months of streaming.

When it comes to travel and commuting, Spotify features integrations with Google Maps and Waze, as well as a dedicated car interface with big buttons to keep your music listening safe on the road.

More so than any other music service, Spotify has become a social network over the years and allows you to follow friends and easily share songs back and forth. This works well because it’s the world’s largest music platform and has the most listeners who will gladly click on a link you share.

The bottom line

A few years ago, the question of whether you should use Spotify versus Amazon Music was an easy choice. Now in 2021, that choice isn’t as clear cut. The good news is that both services offer compelling features at reasonable prices.

Ultimately, Spotify is still the best choice for most people. While Amazon Music has a wider assortment of pricing options which may fit a specific need more than Spotify, those who just want convenient music streaming will likely be more than satisfied with Spotify’s simplified offerings. Amazon Music is an appealing option for people who are already Prime members, but Spotify is a better fit if you’re not interested in paying for other Amazon perks.

For the standard $10 a month price, Spotify provides a feature-rich experience that covers all you can listen to across mobile, desktop, and connected speakers.

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We compared Google Meet and Zoom to see which is better for remote working and learning – and Zoom has a slight edge for large meetings

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Google Hangouts vs Zoom 4x3
  • If you’re learning or working from home, a video conferencing tool is a must.
  • Two of the best services out there are Google Meet and Zoom.
  • Zoom supports larger meetings, but Google Meet is conveniently packaged with other Google services.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyPro Plan (Monthly) (small)G Suite Business Account (Monthly) (small)

Two of the most popular video communication tools for remote work and learning are Google Meet and Zoom. The two services are used by workplaces and classrooms around the world. Both provide the ability to interact with other participants through video conferencing, enabling businesses and schools to conduct remote meetings and lessons through a variety of apps and devices.

But which of these tools is ultimately better? And which might work best for your needs? We put Google Meet and Zoom head to head to find out.

Google Meet vs Zoom: Which is better?

Google Meet and Zoom are both video conferencing services and they offer a lot of the same features. But one service may be a better fit for your needs depending on the size of your team and what other applications you plan to use.

When it comes purely to video conferencing features, Zoom has a slight edge over Google Meet, offering a comprehensive assortment of options at various price points. Zoom’s most expensive plan provides support for the largest number of participants.

That said, if you’re looking for a bigger collection of applications to use in tandem with your video conferencing service, then Google Meet might be a better fit. The platform, formerly known as Google Hangouts Meet, comes bundled with other helpful Google services as part of a Google Workspace subscription.

Feature comparison

Google Meet Zoom
Free option Yes Yes
Monthly price $6-$25 per user $15-$20 per license
Participants Up to 250 Up to 1,000
Meeting time limit up to 24 hours Up to 30 hours
Platforms Windows, Mac, Android, iOS Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

Pricing and plans

Google Meet and Zoom are both available in a variety of plans for different monthly costs, with certain features only available via certain packages.

Zoom plans

The basic version of Zoom is available for free, but there are some limitations to this option. Notably, you can only host meetings of up to 100 people and group meetings can only be up to 40 minutes.

Pricing for Zoom’s premium plans can get a little complicated if you need more than what the free version has to offer. Here’s a full rundown of packages:

Plan Price Participants Time Hosts
Zoom Basic: Free Up to 100 40 minutes One
Zoom Pro: $15/month/host Up to 100 30 hours 1-9
Zoom Business: $20/month/host Up to 300 30 hours 10-99
Zoom Enterprise: $20/month/host Up to 500 30 hours 50+

Starting with the Pro plan, members receive social media streaming, 1 GB of cloud recording, and personal meeting IDs. When you step up to Business, you get some advanced administrative features, like transcript recording, managed domains, and company branding. Enterprise upgrades you to unlimited cloud storage.

You can also add the “Large Meetings” add-on to any paid plan to get support for up to 1,000 participants.

Outside of its workplace plans, Zoom also has specific solutions geared toward education. Education plans are available for a minimum of 20 hosts and a max of 149 hosts. Each host can have unlimited meetings with support for up to 300 participants. You can find more information on pricing and features for Zoom’s Education plan here.

Google Meet plans

When it comes to Google Meet, you also have a few different options to choose from. Though a free version of Meet wasn’t originally available, Google now offers free access to a limited version of the service.

To unlock more features, you’ll need to pay for Google Meet as part of a subscription to Google Workspace (formerly G Suite). Workspace comes with a full suite of additional Google cloud services, including Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, and more. Here’s a full breakdown of Google Meet options via Google’s different Workspace plans:

Plan Price Participants Time Users
Google Meet: Free Up to 100 One hour (groups) One
Business Starter: $6/month/user Up to 100 24 hours 300 max
Business Standard: $12/month/user Up to 150 24 hours 300 max
Business Plus: $18/month/user Up to 250 24 hours 300 max
Enterprise: Varies Up to 250 24 hours No max

The Business Standard plan adds recording support. Meanwhile, Business Plus adds attendance tracking. Finally the Enterprise plan adds a noise-cancellation feature and “in-domain” live streaming.

Like Zoom, Google also offers education-specific Google Meet solutions. You can find more information about Google Workspace for education here.

Extra features

Zoom video conferencing

Zoom is a dedicated video conferencing service built by a company that is mainly focused on that platform. As such, Zoom is a little more comprehensive than Google Meet. Sure, Meet scores points thanks to its seamless integration with other Google apps, and the fact that it comes bundled with a host of other services, but if you’re really only looking for a video conferencing platform, those other apps won’t matter all that much.

Google Meet caps out at 250 participants and 24 hours, but Zoom can support up to 30 hours and has an option to add support for up to 1,000 participants for an extra fee. Most teams won’t need the expanded support that Zoom provides – but for some businesses, this ability could be the deciding factor.

When it comes to general features, Meet and Zoom both offer many of the same basic functions, like call encryption, support for up to 720p HD video, and presentation modes that allow for screensharing to other participants.

Google Meet has also made some big improvements over the last few months by adding additional options that were initially only found on Zoom, like polls, a tiled gallery layout for larger calls, and video filters so you can change your background. Both Zoom and Meet will let you split up calls into breakout rooms as well.

You can go further with both video conferencing services by hosting a session with a whiteboard. Participants in Meet and Zoom can also raise their hands if they have to say something in a class or company meeting.

Though Google Meet was initially missing a lot of these extra functions, the difference between both services has steadily decreased.

Integrations

Google Hangouts Meet integrations
Google Meet can integrate with other services.

Perhaps one of the most important things to consider is how each platform integrates with other services. Notably, Google Meet allows users to integrate meetings with other teams using Skype for Business, and other video meeting systems based on the SIP and H.323 standards. Meet also integrates with additional apps, including other Google services. For example, the service integrates well with Google Calendar

Zoom offers some great integrations too – including some Google apps and services. For example, Zoom integrates with Facebook Workplace, Skype for Business, Salesforce, Microsoft Outlook, Google Drive, Google Calendar, and more. While Meet may make integration with Google services a little easier, Zoom still allows many of those same integrations as well.

The bottom line

Zoom meeting
Zoom is the more comprehensive service for dedicated video conferencing needs.

Zoom offers support for the most amount of people and the longest meeting times, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right option for everyone. Zoom’s edge over Meet has diminished greatly over the last few months as Google added a lot of new features. Still, if you just want a service purely for video conferencing, then Zoom has a slight edge.

That said, if you want to use other Google services that come included with a Google Workspace subscription, then Meet will be more than good enough for your remote work or learning needs.

You can get Google Meet from the Google Workspace website, or sign up for Zoom at the Zoom website.

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