Rumours of Apple’s plans to make its own pair of over ear headphones have been circulating for more than two years, with several leaks and inside information being surfaced.
AirPods and Beats
As of now, Apple has two lines of audio accessories, AirPods and Beats. Apple continues to update the beats brand with the release of the PowerBeats Pro and Solo Pro. The beats collection contains a mixture of over ear headphones, on ear headphones and earbuds.
Apple’s AirPods line-up is only limited to earbuds, however this could change soon with the rumoured release of Apple’s own over ear headphones.
Until recently, the rumoured design of Apple’s over-ear headphones was a mystery. A recent report from Bloomberg offered more detail on the Apple Headphones, according to the report we should expect two versions of headphones, a premium version with leather-like fabrics and a fitness-focused model that uses lighter and more breathable materials. Also rumoured are touch controls.
Prototypes have surfaced with headphones to have a retro look with oval shaped ear cups that swivel.
9to5Mac found the first look at the headphones design from iOS 14.
Bloomberg also mentioned in the report modularity. Many high-end headphones manufactures use magnets or some type of mechanism to make their headphone components modular. Apple’s Headphones are rumoured to have modular and user replaceable headbands and ear-cups.
We can expect Apple’s over-ear headphones to borrow many features from the AirPods line-up. The headphones could include the latest H1 clip for fast pairing and switching between devices or an entirely new chip.
Reports have also indicated that Apple’s over-ear headphones will feature noise cancellation, which also means there will likely be support for a transparency mode similar to the AirPods Pro. Transparency mode works by relaying the surrounding noises through an external microphone.
Features like Transparency Mode and the H1 chip have found their way into the Beats line-up recently with the Beats Solo Pro featuring noise cancellation and transparency mode. Apple’s over-ear headphones are expected to have more AirPod like features such as automatically pausing and resuming playback when you remove them or put them on similar to the AirPods.
Apple has a few main competitors in the high-end over-ear headphones market. Bose makes two incredibly popular and well-liked headphones, the Bose Noise Cancelling 700 and the Bose QuietComfort 35. Both offer high-end audio quality and stunning premium designs, with both including noise cancellation. Sony, another high-end audio brand has also recently become a popular choice for users with the WH1000XM3 over-ear headphones. These headphones pack noise cancelling, Alexa control and more.
Where Apple will be able to set themselves apart will be the deep iOS integration that the H1 chip offers. Much like AirPods how they have become the default choice of wireless earbuds for many iPhone users.
Pricing and Availability
Most recently, reliable Apple Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicated that Apple hopes to begin mass production of its over-ear headphone in mid-2020, which suggests a release in late summer or early fall. Though we can expect further delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pricing information is often impossible to know for unreleased Apple Products, but the Beats and AirPods line-up can provide a rough estimate on pricing, the AirPods Pro retail for $29 whereas the Beats Solo Pro retail for $299. Theoretically, the pricing for the Apple headphones will cost more than that and perhaps in the $300 to $400 range. The product names are also usually impossible to know until the official announcement.