Earlier this year Apple debuted Powerbeats Pro, a new higher-end version of its Beats-branded earbuds that added the H1 chip and “Hey Siri” support found on its second-generation AirPods, and now it looks like it may be bringing the advanced H1-powered features to a new set of less expensive pair of Beats ‘buds.
New assets and code found in iOS 13.3 released yesterday suggests that “Powerbeats4” are coming soon, and also indicate that they will support the “Hey Siri” trigger phase, meaning that they’re almost certain to use Apple’s new H1 chip. The H1 has so far has been the exclusive domain of Apple’s AirPods and its Beats-branded “Pro” earphones and headphones — the Powerbeats Pro and Solo Pro.
As the “Pro” moniker implies, the Powerbeats Pro are targeted at higher-end customers, and in fact they sell for the same price as the AirPods Pro, making it a tough call as to which is the better option. Apple’s standard second-generation AirPods are considerably cheaper, and offer a wireless charging case as well — something that Powerbeats Pro conspicuously omits. There are still some reasons to choose Powerbeats Pro over the second-gen AirPods, but price definitely isn’t one of them.
On the other hand, new Powerbeats4 could level the playing field. As a likely direct successor to the Powerbeats3, which already incorporate the W1 chip found on Apple’s original AirPods, the new Powerbeats4 could match the price point for the standard AirPods, providing an affordable option for more athletically-minded users who don’t want to pay more for the “Pro” version. Powerbeats3 currently sell for $199 — the same price as Apple’s AirPods with wireless charging case, while Powerbeats Pro and AirPods Pro both sell for $250.
It’s still not clear what form the Powerbeats4 might take, however, as the code found in iOS 13.3 doesn’t include any images or icons. The Powerbeats3 have a wire connecting the two earbuds, while Powerbeats Pro are completely and fully wireless, so Apple could really go either way here.
Apple has also been slowly updating its Beats-branded headphones to incorporate the new H1 chip, but so far it’s been similarly pegging these as “Pro” versions, like the new Beats Solo Pro. Powerbeats4 would be the first “non-pro” Beats to use Apple’s newest wireless chip, although it certainly seems likely that’s the way forward for Apple now anyway; it’s hard to see the company continuing to place its now-inferior W1 chip in newer products.
The H1 chip also powers a lot more than just “Hey Siri.” It’s also required for Apple’s Announce Messages with Siri feature that was introduced in iOS 13.2, and will likely be key to other similar features that Apple will add in the future. That said, Apple’s iOS 13 Audio Sharing feature does work with older W1-equipped AirPods and Beats headphones as well, so the H1 isn’t necessary for everything.
Evidence of Powerbeats Pro was similarly discovered in iOS 12.2 only a few weeks before they were launched by Apple, so although it seems like it’s a bit too late for Christmas, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to find Powerbeats4 announced in the very near future.