Apple’s new Beats Studio headphones look and feel better than AirPods but lack great functionality – NBC Chicago


  • Apple’s new Beats Studio Buds look better than AirPods and are more comfortable, but lack the H1 chip that syncs to Apple devices.
  • They are the first headphones to pair easily with Apple and Android devices.
  • Apple owns Beats, so it wins whether you buy them or buy AirPods.
  • Apple’s Beats Studio Buds are now available for purchase for $ 149.99. I’ve been testing them for about a week, and in some ways they’re better than Apple’s regular $ 159 AirPods. They are more comfortable. It’s also Apple’s first headset to pair quickly with iPhones and Android devices. Still, you will miss out on some important options that AirPods offer if you own multiple Apple devices.

    Apple owns Beats, so Apple wins whether you buy AirPods or those new headphones. But, by making it easier to pair AirPods with Android devices, it now has buds that will be more appealing to people who don’t even own an iPhone. Clever.

    Here’s what you need to know.

    What is good

    Todd Haselton | CNBC

    Beats Studio Buds

    Beats Studio Buds look better than AirPods. They don’t have the long stalk hanging down below your ear. They’re small and fit my ear canal perfectly, and they stayed in place even on long runs when I was sweating. They are also very light, so they didn’t really bother me after several hours of listening.

    A unique feature that I have never seen before: When you open the Beats Studio Buds case, you will be prompted to immediately pair them with an Android phone or iPhone. Typically, Beats offers quick pairing for iPhones, but there are a few more steps you still need to take to pair them with an Android phone.

    The Beats Studio Buds also have active noise cancellation, a feature that isn’t even available on the more expensive Powerbeats Pro. It’s subtle, however, and not as good at blocking out background noise like cars or lawn mowers as Amazon’s recent Echo Buds 2 or more expensive headphones like AirPods Pro and the new WF- 1000XM4 at $ 280 from Sony.

    I like that the pill-shaped case is much smaller than the Powerbeats Pro case. It’s still bigger than an AirPods or AirPods Pro case, but it fits very well in a pocket. The headphones provide up to 5 hours of battery life with noise cancellation on or up to 8 hours without. That’s more than the 5 hours of listening you get with regular AirPods, which don’t have noise canceling. Including the case, which charges the heads, you get up to 15 hours with ANC on or 24 hours without. That’s on par with the 24 hours of battery life that AirPods promise.

    What is wrong

    Beats Studio Buds

    Beats Studio Buds

    The Beats Studio Buds don’t use Apple’s H1 chip, which means they don’t check in with your iCloud account and automatically sync with all of your Apple devices. So if you pair them with your iPhone, then you need to pair them again with iPad or Mac. You can’t just select them on these devices like you would on AirPods. This is a big deal for me as I am constantly switching between devices. And you can only pair them with one device at a time, which would have made that less of a problem. So in my case I paired them with my Apple Watch for shopping but every time I want to listen on my iPhone I have to pair them again.

    While you can always say “Hey Siri” to request a new song or something mid-run, I found the button controls to skip or pause songs to be a bit finicky. While I was running, for example, sometimes a double click would not register. There is simply not enough “click” with each press. And there are no volume controls on the heads like on the more expensive Powerbeats Pro.

    And while the audio quality is good, it lacks the boosted bass you would find in something like Powerbeats Pro, which I really like during training. It amplifies me a little more. These sound a bit duller compared to these headphones, although they are still well balanced.

    Finally, the case does not have wireless charging. It’s handy to have if you also charge your cordless phone, but that’s no compromise for me. Standard USB-C charging works well, and most Android phone owners, or people with newer Macs and iPads, already have this charger lying around.

    Should we buy them?

    Beats Studio BudsTodd Haselton | CNBC

    Beats Studio Buds

    It depends. I really like the size and think they look cooler than AirPods. And I would buy them myself if they had the H1 chip that would allow them to easily pair with other Apple products. Android users will appreciate the easy pairing.

    They sound better and are more comfortable than regular AirPods, so I think they’re the best buy if you don’t mind how easy it is to change devices. If you have a bigger budget for headphones, consider AirPods Pro or Powerbeats Pro. The former has better noise cancellation, while the latter is better for training.Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.


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