Given that Beats by Dre is an undeniable leader in the wireless headphone space, it’s always been a bit odd that the Apple-owned brand has never created a set of true wireless earbuds aimed users who aren’t athletes or gym rats. But that could be about to change — and as soon as June 2021 — if this leaked photo of the purported new Beats earbuds is accurate.
“According to the internal iOS 14.6 files, Apple is working on new earbuds under the Beats brand called ‘Beats Studio Buds,’” claims a report from 9to5mac.com. “Just like AirPods, these are completely wireless earphones that come with a smart charging case.”
And indeed, the images, which were pulled from animation files found in iOS 14.6, show what appears to be a set of Beats-branded earbuds and a charging case that bears a lot of similarity to the one Apple uses for the AirPods Pro.
Beats sells one of the best sets of true wireless earbuds for working out — the Powerbeats Pro. But these earbuds have nonremovable ear hooks and come in a very large charging case. These aspects alone make them far less friendly for daily use than the Apple AirPods Pro, even though they have excellent battery life.
It’s not certain that these new earbuds will be called Beats Studio Buds — sometimes model names found in early code releases change by the time the product is released — but it would definitely be consistent with Beats’ naming conventions so far.
What can we expect from these new Beats earbuds if and when they’re finally announced?
Active noise cancellation (ANC)
Apple’s AirPods Pro are among the best true wireless earbuds for ANC, and it would be crazy if the company didn’t include this feature on a new set of Beats buds.
Another standout feature of the AirPods Pro, the ability to quickly shift modes so you can hear the world around you, is now standard on many true wireless earbuds across price ranges.
Find my earbuds
Apple recently introduced its AirTags with ultra-wideband (UWB) technology for locating objects with pinpoint accuracy. You can already use Apple’s Find My app to locate Beats wireless headphones, but no Apple or Beats headphones currently have UWB on board, so locations aren’t going to be as accurate as they could be. Now’s the perfect time to add it.
Standard on the AirPods Pro (and many other models of true wireless earbuds), this convenient feature is a must-have for Apple fans with the latest iPhones.
Longer battery life
This one is a maybe: The Powerbeats Pro have an excellent nine-hour battery life between charges, but they’re substantially larger than the earbuds in these photos. Still, it would be great to see the new Beats earbuds, ahem, beat Apple’s AirPods Pro, which last only about five hours per charge.
The AirPods Pro offer IPX4 protection from sweat and water, and we can expect this to be the minimum protection offered by a new model of Beats earbuds.
With the upcoming addition of Dolby Atmos Music to Apple Music in June, Apple will support two kinds of spatial audio on the iPhone. The simple version (listening to Dolby Atmos Music from Apple Music) will work with any wired or wireless headphones. The second, more complex version uses head tracking to orient the sound you hear with the screen you’re watching. It’s perfect for movies, and right now, it only works with the AirPods Pro and the AirPods Max.
We can probably expect that the new Beats earbuds will contain an accelerometer to enable the head tracking needed for the second version of spatial audio.
The AirPods Pro normally sell for $249 (though you can often find them for less). That’s also the same regular price for the Powerbeats Pro. Unless Apple surprises us with some awesome new features, it’s likely that the new Beats earbuds will be available for the same price or possibly slightly less.
If these earbuds are announced at Apple’s WWDC 2021 in June, they will likely be made available for pre-order the same day as the announcement, with shipping beginning within two to three weeks.