- Apple reportedly plans to release a pair of high-end over-ear headphones in 2019.
- These headphones would differ from Apple’s Beats line of headphones, and feature Apple branding instead of the Beats logo.
- A pair of studio-quality Apple headphones is bound to be successful, for many reasons.
Apple plans to release a pair of high-end over-ear headphones in 2019, to compete with the likes of Bose and Sennheiser.
Last June, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Apple’s over-ear headphones would be separate from the Beats line. (Apple purchased Beats Electronics for $US3 billion back in 2014.) A recent Bloomberg report about Sonos in January also reiterated that Apple’s plans to release over-ear headphones this year.
Here’s what we know.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo was the first to report on Apple’s over-ear headphones back in February 2018.
In his research note (published via MacRumors), Kuo said Apple’s high-end headphones will be “as convenient as AirPods with better sound quality.”
A Bloomberg report from last June said Apple’s over-ear headphones would be separate from the Beats line, and that the company initially planned to release the headphones by the end of 2018, but moved the launch date to early 2019 due to “development challenges.”
It’s unclear what issues Apple may have encountered, as we don’t know much about the design of the headphones. We do know, however, they will feature an Apple logo instead of the Beats logo, and likely be powered by the new H1 chip that debuted in the second-generation AirPods that launched in March.
The H1 chip is an upgraded version of the W1 chip, which powered the first-generation AirPods and allowed them to instantly connect to other Apple devices.
We don’t know what the headphones will actually look like, how they will work, or how much they will cost. But based on Apple’s history with personal audio, a premium over-ear offering is bound to be a hit.
Even before it launched the HomePod speaker in February 2018, Apple was already one of the biggest producers of audio speakers in the world.
As of 2012, Apple had shipped more than 1.2 billion speakers in the form of its wired earbuds, which came packaged with every iPod and iPhone. And that was before Apple introduced its hit AirPods in 2016.
Apple is no stranger to personal audio. Apple’s hardware designs for its earbuds, from the wired earbuds that shipped with the first iPods, to the fully wireless AirPods, are iconic.
Of course, the designs aren’t just pretty; they’re functional. Apple’s wired earbuds only had a few controls, which were easy to find and use without looking at them.
AirPods also have clever wireless controls, including the ability to pause and resume playback when you remove one of your AirPods, or stop playback completely if both AirPods are removed. You can also customise your own touch controls for Siri, skipping tracks, and more.
The good news is, unlike AirPods, Apple doesn’t need to necessarily reinvent (or re-innovate) the wheel in order to make a pair of over-ear headphones a smash hit.
Even before they’re announced, a pair of Apple headphones would have a lot of things going for it.
Apple has a built-in fanbase, and a solid reputation with consumer tech hardware.
Apple also has its magic H1 chip: the secret sauce to the second-generation AirPods, allowing instant pairing to other Apple devices, plus strong battery life and range.
Apple also has something other companies don’t have (and other companies have yet to replicate well): the Apple ecosystem. The quality of each particular Apple product improves with every other Apple product you own.
Most people use AirPods with their phone, like any other pair of Bluetooth headphones. But if you own an Apple TV, you can use your AirPods to watch movies or shows, and even use Siri to control playback, summon subtitles, and more. You can’t do that with other wireless headphones.
You can also switch your AirPods between multiple devices on the fly. I keep mine paired to my iPhone, but when I’m home, I often pair them to my Apple TV or Mac Mini. They also work great with the Apple Watch.
A pair of over-ear Apple headphones would have similar benefits to AirPods, just delivered in a different style. Many are expecting the standout feature of these devices to be noise-cancellation, a hallmark of most premium over-ear headphones.
It will be interesting to see if Apple can deliver on the fundamentals, but also go above and beyond to provide a truly different experience. Perhaps Apple will borrow a page from the defunct audio company Doppler Labs and let you choose which types of noises you want cancelled, like traffic or trains, while enhancing other types of sounds, like human voices.
Even if Apple’s headphones aren’t very different-looking, or if they don’t have any futuristic features, you can still expect two things: they will be popular, and they will be expensive.
The first AirPods cost $US160 at launch, and the second-generation model with the wireless case costs $US200, so don’t be surprised if these headphones cost $US350 or more, which is around the current market price for top-of-the-line headphones.
Apple hiked prices across the board in 2018, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see that trend continue, particularly with a first-generation product in a popular space.
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