Apple’s latest Bluetooth headphones from its Beats brand offer active noise cancellation and cross-compatibility that goes beyond its competitors, even for Android users.
The Studio Buds are £ 129.99 ($ 149.99 or A $ 199.95) and are Beats’s smallest headphones to date, after the sports-oriented PowerBeats Pro and budget Beats Flex.Unlike most true wireless earbuds, including Apple’s AirPods Pro, the Studio Buds are stemless and fairly compact, with a unique shape and a standard silicone tip. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
Most of the headset fits snugly inside the shell of your ear with a lozenge-shaped protrusion that protrudes a bit and has a button on the end. Press it once to pause / play, twice and three times to skip the track, or press and hold to change noise canceling modes.
The controls work great, but unlike some competitors, the headphones don’t pause music when you remove them and there’s no built-in volume control, meaning you have to reach for your phone to turn the music up or down.
Waterproof: IPX4 (sweat)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2, SBC, AAC
Battery duration: 5 hours ANC / 8 hours off, up to 24 hours with case
Headphone Weight: 5.1g each
Headphone Dimensions: 15.6 x 21.6 x 19.8 mm
Controller size: 8.2 mm
Charging case weight: 48g
Charging case dimensions: 51.5 x 73 x 25.6 mm
Loading the box: USB-C
Case and battery
The headphones fit into the smooth hard plastic pill-shaped case with powerful magnets. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
The case is medium in size compared to its competitors, and it almost fits in the money pocket of a pair of jeans, significantly smaller than the PowerBeats Pro case but slightly larger than the AirPods Pro case.
It charges via USB-C and stores enough energy in it to recharge the headphones twice. The Studio Buds last about five hours with noise cancellation active or up to eight when it’s off. When they’re low, a five-minute charge in the case is enough for about an hour of playback.
Open the case near an Android or iPhone to check the battery levels of each earbud and the case. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
The Studio Buds are Bluetooth 5.2 headphones that support the standard SBC and AAC audio formats, but are more cross-compatible than any rivals, even Apple’s other headphones.
This is because, unlike previous Beats or AirPods, the Studio Buds use a new chip not made by Apple. That means they have almost the same functionality whether they are connected to an iPhone or Android, including one-touch pairing and support for “Find My” device location systems on both platforms, making them the best. first headphones to do so.
The headphones support “Hey Siri” for instant access to the voice assistant on an iPhone, as well as the new “spatial audio“Surround sound for Apple Music.
The headphones connect to only one device at a time, but can seamlessly switch between paired devices without having to manually disconnect from each one first. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
The Beats app on Android handles setup and updates and displays the charging status of each earbud and case, while the same functions are built into an iPhone’s settings app.
There are some limitations with Apple devices compared to the other headphones from the company. They don’t support spatial audio for movies on an iPhone or iPad, unlike the AirPods Pro, nor do they support audio sharing for two headphones connected to one device simultaneously. When you only need to pair other Apple headphones with an Apple device to make them available on any other iPhone, iPad or Mac you own, you will have to manually pair the Studio Buds with each device you want to use.
Call quality in a quiet space was good and clear with local tone so you can hear yourself and avoid yelling, but the headphones leave a bit of background noise on the call and my voice cuts out a bit in noisy environments.
Good sound and noise cancellation.
The traditional silicone earbud provides a good seal in the ear, while the small vents prevent pressure from building up, avoiding the “plugged in” feeling of traditional earbuds. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
The new headphones are some of the most balanced and best tuned Beats headphones yet. They produce deep, punchy bass when needed, but don’t overpower well-balanced highs and treble notes. They handle complex and layered tones well, with good instrument separation and super clear vocals, and they sound good with most musical genres for everyday listening. However, there is no sound customization available.
Beats founder Dr Dre sounds better on the Studio Buds than on any of the company’s other headphones. But they lack a little detail and nuance on some more refined tracks compared to the best headphones, and a bit of energy on some higher-paced songs.
Noise cancellation is very similar to that of the AirPods Pro, successfully reducing low noises in an airplane or passing car. They struggle a bit with speech and wind noise, and they won’t bother the best Sony WF-1000XM4 or WH-1000XM4 headphones, but they do a reasonable job for the money and size.
Noise cancellation changes the sound a bit, making the treble and higher tones more pronounced. Ambient sound mode is good for listening to announcements or quick talks, but it doesn’t sound as natural as the AirPods Pro.
The earphones and case are made from recycled plastic, but the batteries cannot be replaced. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
Apple estimates that the batteries in the headphones and the case last well over 500 full charge cycles while maintaining at least 80% of their original capacity, but are not replaceable, ultimately making the headphones disposable.
Some parts of the headphones cannot be repaired either, but Apple offers replacements costing £ 82.44 or a battery service costing £ 66.44. All the internal plastic parts of the headphones are made from recycled material, but Apple does not publish environmental impact reports for accessories such as headphones. The company offers free and trade-in recycling schemes, even for non-Apple products.
The cost of the Beats Studio Buds £ 129.99 ($ 149.99 or A $ 199.95) and are available in white, black or red.
For comparison, AirPods cost £ 159, the cost of AirPods Pro £ 249, the cost of PowerBeats Pro £ 219.95, the cost of Beats Flex £ 49.99, the Sony WF-1000XM4 costs £ 250, the Jabra Elite 85t costs £ 219.99, the cost of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro £ 219and the cost of Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro £ 129.99.
The Beats Studio Buds are an amazing set of headphones from Apple that support as many features on Android as on an iPhone, including instant pairing and battery level notifications.
They stay in place and are comfortable for long periods of time, have a good connection to your phone, and have easy-to-use button controls. Solid battery life and a good, if slightly larger, case make them easy to live with.
The Studio Buds sound good for everyday listening and have AirPods Pro compatible noise cancellation, which is great for the money and the size.
However, the noise cancellation slightly alters the sound and does not pause the music when it is removed from your ears. The headphones cannot be repaired and the battery cannot be replaced when it is used up, which ultimately makes them disposable and loses a star.
Pros: good sound and reasonable noise cancellation, cross-platform compatibility with one-touch pairing for iPhone and Android, good battery life and case, quite small and comfortable for long periods, good button controls.
Cons: no built-in volume control, no pause music when removed, no spatial audio for movies or pairing sync with Apple devices, not fixable.
Studio Buds look particularly good in red, but are available in traditional black or white. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian