More Powerful ‘Beats Studio Buds Plus’ Are Just Around the Corner

Beats Studio Buds 5 Credit: Beats
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Each spring, we usually begin hearing about plans for new headphones from Apple’s Beats subsidiary, and this year is no exception. New code found in the iOS 16.4 Release Candidate (RC) that was sent out to beta testers yesterday includes several references to new headphones, including an unreleased AirPods model and some new “Beats Studio Buds+.”

References to the new Beats earbuds were first discovered in the iOS 16.4 RC by the folks at 9to5Mac. However, their existence has since been confirmed by other sources speaking independently with both 9to5Mac and The Verge.

The code in iOS 16.4 indicated that the new Beats Studio Buds+ are expected to support audio sharing, automatic device switching, and “Hey Siri.” This initially led to speculation that the new earphones would feature the same H1/H2 chip as Apple’s AirPods, which have supported these capabilities since the second-generation AirPods came along in 2019.

That’s since been corrected by sources who have indicated that the new Studio Buds+ will use a custom Beats chip rather than Apple’s H1/H2. However, that may be a semantic difference. After all, a custom chip still has to be designed by someone, and Beats is still owned by Apple.

What’s Coming in the Studio Buds+

Nevertheless, it also appears that the Beats Studio Buds+ won’t support automatic switching between Apple devices anyway. The Verge notes that the device experience will likely be the same as the original 2021 Beats Studio Buds, which gained iCloud-synced pairing in an early 2022 firmware update.

To be clear, this isn’t quite the same as automatic switching between devices. Synced pairing simply streamlines the process of using your earphones with multiple Apple devices by passing the Bluetooth pairing credentials to your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV via your iCloud account. This means you only need to pair your earbuds with one of your devices, but you’ll still need to connect manually when you want to switch to another device.

By comparison, the automatic switching offered by Apple’s AirPods will dynamically figure out which device you’re listening on and automatically hand off the connection. For example, if you’re listening to music on your MacBook and a call comes in on your iPhone, the audio switches as soon as you answer it. There are workarounds for other headphones that sort of accomplishes the same thing, but it’s not nearly as seamless as what AirPods can accomplish on their own.

According to The Verge’s sources, this year’s Beats Studio Buds+ will be focused more on the listening experience rather than the more fiddly details of device pairing — which we think is exactly as it should be. Besides, the Beats Studio Buds were intended to be a platform-agnostic solution that would appeal to both Android and iPhone users equally. The Studio Buds+ are expected to continue that tradition.

Instead, sources say the Studio Buds+ will gain more powerful active noise cancellation and a better transparency mode. They’ll likely retain some Apple-centric features of the originals, including “Hey Siri,” but it’s an open question whether they’ll gain audio sharing. In an odd twist, Beats included this feature on the much more affordable Beats Flex released in late 2020, but it was mysteriously omitted on the Beats Studio Buds.

However, the Beats Flex also packed in Apple’s W1 chip — the same chip that was used in the original 2016 AirPods. The Beats Studio Buds conspicuously omitted any Apple Silicon, marking the first time since 2016 that Apple’s W1/H1 chips had been left out of a Beats wireless headphone product.

It’s a compromise may have been needed to ensure full Android compatibility. The Beats Studio Buds were also the first headphones to support Fast Pair to link them up with your Google account, offering multi-device pairing, battery status, and even “Find My”-style location information. Apple’s W- and H-series chips understandably don’t support any of these features, so a new custom chip had to be designed.

We have every reason to believe the Beats Studio Buds+ will follow the same playbook. Apple already offers Beats Flex and Beats Fit Pro that are designed to appeal more directly to iPhone fans.

There’s no word yet on when we’ll see the new Studio Buds+, but having already made an appearance in iOS 16.4, it’s safe to say they’ll be along soon. The original Beats Studio Buds arrived in June 2021, so a spring encore makes sense.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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