Skip to main content

Beats Studio Buds are missing some AirPods Pro features and that's OK

Beats Studio Buds Black
Beats Studio Buds Black (Image credit: Future)

Today, after more leaks than the Titanic, Apple announced the Beats Studio Buds. They're earbuds that offer many of the same features of Apple's existing AirPods Pro. But not all of them.

The new Beats Studio Buds are priced at just $149.99 (opens in new tab) and come in red, black, and white. AirPods Pro come in any color you want so long as it's white and at $249, they're considerably more costly – although the best AirPods Pro deals bring that price down a tad.

So what do you lose when you save that $100? Not as much as you might expect, really. For starters, you get to keep all of the magic audio control features that AirPods Pro brought to the table before AirPods Max arrived. That means Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) technology and Transparency mode are included, for example.

With two distinct listening modes, you are in total control of your sound. Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) continuously blocks unwanted outside noise using a finely-tuned filter that dynamically adapts to your surroundings. When you need to hear the world around you, switch to Transparency mode at the press of a button. The external-facing microphones mix the sounds of your surroundings back in with your music for a natural, 'open' listening experience.

You also get a charging case, but it isn't wireless – so that's a point for AirPods Pro. There's more that puts the dub in the AirPods Pro's court, too. The lack of a W1 or H1 chip means the Beats buds don't feature instant device switching or iCloud pairing sync, so you'll be pairing and re-pairing when needed. That alone could be worth the extra $100 to some people.

But you know who it isn't worth it to? People using Android phones.

And now it all makes sense.

As much as AirPods Pro do work with Android devices, it's an experience that's lacking. You don't get to control things like what happens when you squeeze the stems – you need an iOS device for that. There's no Apple app to configure that kind of stuff on Android, but there's a Beats app that handles the same thing for the Studio Buds.

Android owners never got to benefit from the instant pairing, instant device switching, and multi-device sync via iCloud, either. So why make them pay the extra $100 to not use it? Strip the H1/W1 functionality out and you can offer Studio Buds at a little less than $150 and still offer ANC and Transparency mode. But the reliance on Bluetooth alone doesn't mean a reduction in sound quality or connection stability, at least from what I've been told so far. All in all, Studio Buds seem to be mighty impressive and a great option.

Assuming you don't want – or can't enjoy – the niceties of AirPods Pro, that is.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.