Last updated: 2 weeks ago
Apple could be releasing over-the-ear headphones called "AirPods Studio." They are rumored to launch sometime in 2020 with a premium price of $349. New sensors, modular parts, and a unique Apple design are all expected to headline such a product.
● Announcement expected in October 2020
● Modular parts
● Head, ear, and neck position sensors
● H1 chipset with "Hey Siri" support
● Powerful ANC modes
● Priced at $349
Apple revolutionized the market with AirPods, a totally wireless set of earbuds with unique technologies. Next, Apple seeks to upset yet another market with "AirPods Studio," a new over-the-ear-premium headphone.
"AirPods Studio" Rumored Features
Several rumors about a future AirPods product have cropped up since early 2020. A Target listing for AirPods "Generation X" showed up for $399, which suggested it was a premium headphone product.
Jon Prosser later claimed the expected retail price will be $349, with a release sometime around WWDC 2020 in June. The previous leak was a placeholder, and the $399 price tag was allegedly a guess.
The $349 price and the name "AirPods Studio" were both doubled down on by Prosser in early May.
In October, he added more detail, stating that Apple will ship a premium leather-and-metal variant for $599 and that the entry-level $349 "Sport" version will use cheaper materials. He added that the headphones will use USB-C to charge and will lack a headphone jack for wired use. He advised not to expect the new headphones at Apple's "Hi, Speed" event on October 13.
A supply chain rumor states that Apple is likely to manufacture the "AirPods Studio" in Vietnam, not China. This would allow Apple to increase training efforts among Vietnamese factories as they move from China.
A rumor points to interchangeable parts held with magnets, meaning ear cups, headband, and other parts could be swapped on the fly for different situations.
Rumors suggest there will be two variations of the product, which would offer a sports version and luxury version. The sports model would feature plastic and rubber materials, while the luxury model would feature leather and metal.
These may not be separate models at all, however, if parts can be switched on the fly. However, Prosser contradicted that in October, stating that the premium and sport versions will have different price points.
A headphone with modular parts could open up many use cases, like sweat resistant ear cups for working out, or a studio-quality microphone attachment for podcasting.
The AirPods and AirPods Pro already feature sensors for determining which earbud is worn. This system is used to play or pause audio when an AirPod is placed in or removed from your ear.
The rumored over-the-ear AirPods could have even more sensors for playback functions. A proximity sensor in the headband portion of the headphones could be used to detect if the user is wearing the "AirPods Studio" on their head or neck.
This would be useful in situations where removing the headphones would pause audio, or at the users' discretion, continue playback at a higher volume for use as a speaker worn around your neck. Orientation detection could also aid in this feature.
Another sensor in each earpiece could allow the headphones to determine which earpiece is on which ear, making it so there is no "wrong" orientation to wear them. Such sensors could also determine if a user removes an earpiece from one ear, and can switch audio to mono when this occurs.
The U1 chip that utilizes ultra-wideband for precise location tracking could also be used for orientation detection. It is rumored that the left/right ear placement detection will be aided by the chip. Including the U1 chip also means the "AirPods Studio" will be easy to find if lost.
The AirPods Pro feature ANC, or Active Noise Cancelling. This means that the AirPods will use an external microphone to pipe in "anti-noise" to eliminate external noise from your listening experience. An additional mic inside the ear also listens for in-ear noise and negates that too.
ANC, along with a proper seal, can create an immersive audio experience.
Another use for the ANC technology is something Apple calls "transparency mode." By utilizing the same techniques for ANC, Apple can pass through external audio into your ears as if you were not wearing earbuds at all.
This means that moving around environments will be much safer as you won't have your ears blocked. This also alleviates the clogged feeling users may get by having both ears blocked by earplugs.
The over-the-ear AirPods will likely feature much more powerful ANC modes unique to the size and form factor of their design.
"AirPods Studio" Price
The rumored headphones will offer the most premium audio experience ever made by Apple, so with that comes a premium price. Currently, Beats Studio3 headphones are $349 and come with a W1 chip and many color options.
While this is a premium headphone experience and a high price tag, the features hardly compare to Apple's rumored headphones at the same price.
The "AirPods Studio" is rumored to start at $349 as well, with the premium variant costing $599. If the upcoming headphones have all of the expected features, then that price will be highly competitive with Apple's own Beats brand.