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Like AirPods but cans: Apple reportedly working on over-the-ear headphone

Beats Studio3 headphones on head
Beats Studio3 headphones on head (Image credit: iMore)

Apple is reportedly working on high-end over-the-ear headphones to round-out its in-ear AirPods and full-room HomePod audio accessory lineup.

March 5, 2018: Apple AirPods-tyle over-the-ear headphones rumored into include noise cancelation

Not much here that we didn't already see in the KGI report, below. If anything, take it as multiple sources now saying similar things about the potential for AirPods-style over-the-ear-headphones.

From Bloomberg:

The latest plans call for headphones targeting the high-end of the market, replicating Apple's approach with the $349 HomePod speaker, released earlier this year. In addition to noise-canceling capabilities, Apple plans to include similar wireless pairing functionality to the AirPods, according to the people familiar with the product's development.

AirPods-style pairing is as close to a given as anything can be at this point. Noise cancelation is something a lot of over-the-air headphone users would be looking for in this kind of product.

February 25, 2018: Apple reportedly working on over-the-ear headphone

This comes from Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has an established pattern of gaining information from Apple's suppliers and manufacturing partners.

From MacRumors:

Apple to have own-brand, high-end over-ear headphones with all-new design; to be as convenient as AirPods with better sound quality; shipments to begin 4Q18F at earliest; Primax & SZS will be the key suppliers & will benefit from high ASPs.We believe that after AirPods and HomePod, Apple's next addition will be high-end over-ear headphones, making its acoustic accessory lineup more complete. Existing suppliers Primax and SZS will be Apple's partners on this new product. Primax will receive assembly orders on its familiarity with the acoustic business, and SZS is likely to use MIM technology advantages as leverage to become the exclusive or main MIM part supplier. The new headphones will be priced higher than AirPods and should help boost the business momentum of Primax as the assembly provider.

Having the teams that worked on AirPods and HomePod work on "StudioPods" (or "AirPods Pro" or "AirCans" or whatever Apple ends up calling the over-the-ear headphones...) makes the kind of sense that does. It would leverage existing hardware and software technologies and expertise and provide a more premium — aka higher average selling price (ASP) — product to continue the expansion of Apple's wearables category.

A next-generation W1 (W2 is already in Apple Watch Series 3 doing a slightly different job), would provide for the same easy pairing with everything from Apple Watch to iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV, and HomePod-style engineering could make for one of the best listening experiences in its eventual price range.

Beats, which already has over-the-ear studio headphones with the original W1 chip in them could, like AirPods, round-out the Apple-branded offering providing greater diversity and price point for customers — and Apple.

I wonder how long it'll be until a product like "StudioPods" (with cellular) could stream music directly, like Apple Watch, and truly become the next generation, invisible iPod?

Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

4 Comments
  • So? Isn't this Beats?
  • Design, sound profile, and charging port will be different. Like, unfolding the Headphones may turn it on and start the paring process initially. Charging via lightning and induction for another. No traditional headphone jack as a backup; a very Apple move. AirPlay 2 support with no Bluetooth option. More advanded sound staging. Works over WiFi even with the iPhone someplace else (like the Apple Watch). No headphone jack and no Bluetooth would follow the HomePod. Sounds crazy, but they already did it. That kind of lock in started with the Apple Watch.
  • The biggest thing for me would be the Lightning Port. I just got the Beatsᵡ because of that (and I really am not crazy about in-ear headphones). This means I only need a lightning cable with me, in my car, by my bed… everywhere. It's liberating. The W1 chip does remove a lot of Bluetooth friction, while greatly reducing lag. These are big problems with my Jabra Move. Would love to see what W3 can do, but the lightning port is of more tangible benefit to me. Do you think the Beats and Apple engineering teams are at odds a bit? I call the Beatsᵡ "the Beatsᵡ by Apple" since the charging, design, and sound are so much more Apple than Beats. I think all of this would be reflected in the new Apple Headphones, and that would be parallel to Beats Headphones. The former with balanced sound and lightning; the latter bass heavy with micro USC (or USB-C). Beats has a brand and audience, but isn't for everyone; Apple designs for the Everyman. Come to think of it, do you think there is just one audio team or two (Beats and Apple?
  • "March 5, 2018: Apple AirPods-tyle" Does ANYONE here proofread before they post?