- Apple is expected to release a pair of wireless over-ear headphones with premium sound quality, according to reports from Bloomberg, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, and YouTuber Jon Prosser.
- The headphones would offer the convenience of AirPods, but with an over-ear design and improved audio that would rival the likes of products made by Bose and Sennheiser.
- They may come with customisable parts much like the Apple Watch.
- The headphones are expected to debut before the end of 2020, according to Bloomberg.
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Apple has already become a major player in the audio space thanks to the popularity of its AirPods, but it looks like a new type of Apple headphones may be on the horizon.
The Cupertino, California-based tech giant is rumoured to be working on a pair of high-end, over-ear headphones that would rival the likes of products made by Bose and Sennheiser. Rumours about the product have been swirling since 2018, but more reports detailing the headphones’ design have emerged in recent months.
It wouldn’t necessarily be surprising for Apple to launch a pair of over-ear headphones. The company has already proven that there’s demand for Apple-made wireless headphones through its AirPods line, and launching an over-ear version would help it appeal to a different audience. Apple is estimated to have shipped 65 million AirPods in 2019 and may ship between 85 and 90 million units in 2020, according to projections from Wedbush Securities.
Here’s a look at everything we know about Apple’s over-ear headphones so far, according to the leaks and rumours.
Apple may launch the new headphones before the end of 2020.
Apple’s rumoured over-hear headphones are expected to be one of several new products the company unveils before the end of the year, along with four iPhone 12 models and new Mac computers, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. The report doesn’t say precisely when the headphones would launch, but only that they’re expected before the end of 2020.
TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously reported that the high-end headphones could debut in the first half of 2020, as MacRumors reported.
They may be customisable just like the Apple Watch.
Apple wants customers to be able to personalise their headphones just as they do with the Apple Watch, according to Bloomberg. The headphones will reportedly come with padding for the ear cups and headband that attach magnetically so that they can be easily swapped out.
Apple may release the headphones in two different variations: a fitness-focused model and a premium version.
That’s according to Bloomberg, which reports that the high-end version may feature leather fabrics while the exercise-oriented headphones would use materials that are more breathable.
The report also notes that a prototype of the headphones suggests they will have a retro look with oval ear cups.
No one knows what they will be called, but some have speculated that they could be branded as “StudioPods” or “AirPods X.”
Although we haven’t seen any substantial leaks indicating what the product would be called, many tech outlets have speculated that they could be called “StudioPods,” likely a move to remain consistent with the AirPods and HomePod branding while still communicating that they’re for those in search of high-end audio.
The listing in Target’s inventory system that was recently shared by Prosser included a reference to “AirPods (X Generation),” but even if the listing is accurate it’s likely a placeholder.
They will likely be expensive.
Kuo has described the headphones as being “high-end,” while Bloomberg wrote that they will compete with “pricey” models from firms like Bose and Sennheiser. The new headphones would serve as a more premium alternative to Apple’s Beats line, according to Bloomberg.
Some wireless headphones from those companies can cost around $US400, like the Bose Noise Cancelling 700 and Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless. If Apple is launching a new pair of headphones to compete with such models, they will likely be far more expensive than the $US250 AirPods Pro.
The leaked Target listing discovered by Prosser also suggests these new headphones could cost $US400.
The over-ear headphones were originally intended to launch in 2018, but were reportedly pushed back because of development challenges.
That’s according to Bloomberg, which also reported that Apple had faced similar development issues with creating the HomePod smart speaker it released in 2017. It’s unclear precisely what caused the setback, but Bloomberg’s report says Apple may redesign the headphones or even scrap the project entirely.
The new headphones will likely have a lot of the same qualities as AirPods, like easy pairing with Apple devices.
If Apple does release a new pair of over-ear headphones, there’s a good chance they will have some of the AirPods’ hallmark features.
The headphones will likely support noise cancellation and easy pairing features similar to those found on the AirPods, Bloomberg has reported. They will also be compatible with Siri and support some touch controls, says the report.
Kuo has also drawn some comparisons to Apple’s wireless earbuds, writing briefly in a note from early 2018 that the headphones would be as “convenient as AirPods,” as MacRumors reported at the time.
With its AirPods, Apple pioneered the idea of having Bluetooth headphones automatically connect with a mobile device after pairing for the first time – an approach that rivals like Samsung have since replicated with their own wireless earbuds.
But the sound quality will probably be much better.
Reports from both Kuo and Bloomberg suggest that the new headphones would offer superior sound quality compared to Apple’s AirPods. The company is said to be taking an approach that’s similar to the strategy it implemented with its HomePod speaker from 2017.
Apple’s HomePod includes a custom woofer designed by the company and seven beam-forming tweeters, so it’s possible that if it were to launch a pair of headphones it would include similar custom components.
When Apple debuted the HomePod in 2017, it positioned it as being a premium alternative to voice-activated speakers like Amazon’s Echo and the Google Home for customers who prioritise high-end audio. At the time, high-end speakers that supported a digital assistant like Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant were somewhat rare.
But an increasing number of audio companies, like Sonos, have since added support for voice-activated assistants, and both Amazon and Google have released new speakers of their own that emphasise audio quality. As such, it’s been difficult for the HomePod to gain traction in the market.