Rumours have been circulating about Apple releasing a pair of AirPod-branded headphones for a while, but now, we finally have a name: AirPods Studio. Most of the scoop about Apple’s high-end AirPods comes via the notorious Jon Prosser, who has correctly predicted a plethora of details about recent Apple releases including the iPhone SE and MacBook Pro, and has even detailed the upcoming iPhone 12 range.
The latest details suggest Apple is aiming for the high-end market, with the over-ear headphones offering unique features that could allow it to compete with the likes of Bose’s QC35II and Sony’s WH-1000XM3 for the title of best wireless headphones.
Here’s everything there is to know about Apple’s AirPods Studios, including release date, pricing and key features of the high-end cans. For more on upcoming AirPods products, we cover all the AirPods Apple is launching this year separately.
Why are they AirPods and not Beats?
Before we go into detail about the upcoming AirPods Studio, we first thought we’d try and explain the logic behind the branding – as best we can at a pre-release state, anyway.
You see, while many people assumed the ‘Pod’ branding of AirPods was related to the earbud design of the wireless buds, that’s not actually the case. When it comes to Apple, ‘Pod’ simply means music, with the branding found in other music-focused products including the infamous iPod. Forgot about that Pod, didn’t you?
With the Studio branding, which overlaps with the Beats Studio headphones, it’d make sense for Apple to simply continue to use the Beats brand. But, according to famed leaker Jon Prosser, Apple is actually looking to “phase out Beats” despite the huge popularity surrounding the brand. Could we see AirPod-branded Beats X in future? It’s a possibility.
The phase-out of the Apple-owned brand would certainly make things simpler for the company, but longtime Beats fans may be sad to see the infamous B logo finally put to bed.
AirPods Studio release date
Numerous sources originally indicated that the AirPods studio would be coming mid-2020. These included a prediction from popular Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who claimed that Apple’s high-end over-ear headphones were due to enter mass production by mid-2020, and a late-May DigiTimes report claimed that the upcoming headphones were in mass production with a likely June release.
WWDC came and went, and the AirPods Studio didn’t make an appearance, suggesting a change of internal plans.
The only other source of release date information comes from a Bloomberg source that simply claims the AirPod-branded cans are due to be released “later this year” and claims that they’ve been in development since 2018.
The elusive cans didn’t make an appearance at the Time Flies event in September 2020, but then again, neither did the iPhone 12. The iPhone 12 has been confirmed to be delayed, shipping in October this year, and it’s likely that Apple will hold a second event in October to showcase the smartphones. We can’t see Apple launching the iPhone 12 range via press release, right?
If that’s the case, it’s possible that we could see the AirPods Studio revealed in October. It’s not that far away, so we don’t have long to find out for sure.
AirPods Studio price
In a May 2020 tweet, Jon Prosser revealed that the AirPods Studio are set to cost $349 in the US, and going by Apple’s direct conversion between USD and GBP, we’d expect that to translate to £349 in the UK.
Looks like Apple is sticking with the “AirPods” branding for their new over-ear headphones.
AirPods StudioCodename: B515$349
— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser)
May 9, 2020
That price tag would put the AirPods Studio broadly in line with rivals including Sony’s WH-1000XM3 and Bose’s QC35 II, both featured among our selection of the best wireless headphones. It’s $100/£100 more than Apple’s high-end wireless AirPods Pro earbuds, suggesting the focus may be on ‘prosumers’ and content creators, and leaked features – discussed below – give this theory a little more weight.
AirPods Studio design and features
While Jon Prosser has provided key details about the upcoming AirPods Studio, the leaker hasn’t said a word about what the cans will offer.
Luckily, a Bloomberg source sheds some light on what to expect from the high-end headphones. As per the site, the AirPods Studio are set to feature active noise cancellation – a rather standard feature on headphones at this price – but what’s more interesting is the alleged modular design.
The source claims that the headphones will feature swappable ear pads, allowing users to “customise their headphones like they do with Apple Watch” and, theoretically, swap out comfortable memory foam cups for more breathable mesh cups when wanting to work out. Bloomberg details a possible premium leather variant alongside a fitness-focused variant set to be available for purchase.
Being an AirPod-branded product, it should come as no surprise that the AirPods Studio are set to come with the same easy pairing tech as the AirPods, alongside touch control and hands-free Hey Siri support too.
Another interesting rumour, this time from 9to5Mac, suggests the AirPods Studio could use sensors to detect when they’re being worn and can play/pause music accordingly. It’s one of the best features of the AirPods range, and Apple is allegedly taking it one step further with the over-ear cans, offering the ability to detect when they’re being worn around the neck.
This additional functionality would presumably keep the headphones connected to your phone, only disconnecting and putting itself to sleep when taken off completely.
The site also claims that, while you can use the AirPods Studio with any Bluetooth-enabled device, Apple products will be able to fine-tune the sound output using custom EQ settings. Sources claim users will be able to make low-, medium- and high-frequency adjustments to the sound.
When it comes to general design, Bloomberg claims that the Studio will sport a “retro look” complete with swivelling earcups and metallic arms, and leaked iOS 14 code suggests the cans will be available in both black and white colour options.
It’s not for the everyday consumer, but at $349/£349, it’s not an everyday consumer product. It’s something we imagine ‘prosumers’ and content creators would enjoy a lot more, and we can’t wait to find out more in the coming weeks.
For more on upcoming Apple products, we take a look at the latest iPhone 12 rumours and round up the latest AirPods 3 details too.