Apple Inc announced the US$149.99 (RM617) Studio Buds wireless earphones, the latest addition to its Beats headphones line and a strong signal for how the company divides its two competing personal-audio brands.
The Studio Buds are more affordable and compatible than Apple’s AirPods line: they charge via the more universal USB-C connector rather than Apple’s proprietary Lightning and they have a dedicated Android app, making them friendlier to users outside the company’s device ecosystem. Where the AirPods line appears tailored to enhance and complement Apple’s iPhones, iPads and Macs, Beats products are pitched at the wider market with a more device-agnostic approach.
Apple has sought to make the AirPods a more premium product, adding the pricey AirPods Max over-ear headphones at the top of its range and sound enhancements like Spatial Audio to differentiate its products. Shares jumped as much as 2% Monday in New York to US$129.88 (RM534.59), the highest intraday value since May 7.
The Beats Studio Buds include the Spatial Audio capability with Apple gear, but they also allow Android users to see exactly how much battery charge each earbud and the accompanying carry case have remaining, plus their controls can be customised to even include a Google Assistant trigger.
The minimalist design of the Studio Buds marks a change for Apple, as its wireless earbuds have so far either had a stem protruding from the bottom, as on the AirPods, or over-the-ear hooks to hold them in place during exercise, as with the Powerbeats. In testing by Bloomberg News, the contoured shape and light weight of the buds made them comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. They offer a noise canceling option, which isn’t hugely effective against loud traffic noise on the street but helps improve the user experience. Battery life is rated at eight hours on a single charge with noise canceling turned off.
The Beats Studio Buds are available to order immediately in the US and Canada from Apple and start shipping on June 24. – Bloomberg