Apple Is Making Over-Ear Headphones? Here’s What We Want

February 8, 2019 Tech By Photo by Curved Labs via Martin Hajek

It’s only a matter of time before Apple comes out with its own pair of over-ear headphones, right? The Cupertino tech giant has an insanely talented team of audio engineers, responsible for AirPods ($159) and the HomePod ($349), and it makes sense for the company to tackle over-ear headphones next.

True, Apple owns Beats, which makes its own wide swath of over-ear headphones, but there’s still a huge market of Apple loyalists that don’t want the Beats’s sound. They want something different, a high-end and audiophile experience. Plus, they don’t want Beats marketing all over the headphones. And this, Apple is fully capable of giving them.

Now, as all this headphone speculation is still percolating around the rumor mill, we don’t exactly know what Apple’s first pair of over-ear headphones will be like. But we can guess. Here’s what we expect (and want) when Apple does release its over-ear headphones.

A Different Look. Not Relabeled Beats.

Apple and Beats have remained separate up to this point, in terms of design and sound. Obviously, one of the big changes we’ve seen in Beats’s headphones since the Apple acquisition in 2016 has been, other than being sold in Apple Stores, the integrating of the W1 chip — like in the Solo3 Wireless ($300) and Studio3 Wireless ($350) headphones, as well as the Powerbeats3 Wireless ($200) and BeatsX ($120) earphones. This helps the headphones easily pair to your iOS device, just like AirPods. Apple’s over-ear headphones will undoubtedly have this W1 chip, too, but they’ll no doubt have a different sound signature. High-end quality and less bass, hopefully.

We Want Noise-Canceling Headphones

Noise-cancellation — or rather, good noise-cancellation — isn’t something that’s been exclusive to Bose anymore. In the past two or so years, we’ve seen several companies (Bowers & Wilkins, Sennheiser, Plantronics) really headphones that we’ve been really impressed with. Heck, Sony’s WH-1000XM3 headphones ($349) are, by most people’s opinions, the best noise-canceling option, period. Even better than Bose’s QC35 II ($349).

Because good noise-cancellation isn’t as difficult as it used to be, or at least more companies have become much better at it, there’s no reason why Apple can’t join the mix. Its core users are all about travel, productivity and premium quality, and headphones with noise cancellation definitely check those boxes. There will no doubt be an ambient mode to allow wearers to better hear the world around them, because, well, why not?

What About Charging?

Charging is anybody’s guess, if we’re being honest. Apple’s over-ear headphones will no doubt stay away from micro-USB, but a Lightning charging port is still in the cards; after all, both AirPods and BeatsX earphones charge that way. But if we were betting men, we’d have to go with USB-C charging. All of Apple’s latest laptops are decked out in USB-C, as are, for the first time, the latest iPad Pros. With Apple focusing on premium headphones, they’d probably want fast charging and that means USB-C is the likeliest guess. Also, most high-end headphones by Sony and Bowers & Wilkins have adapted USB-C as the port of the future, so it only makes sense that Apple’s new headphones will, too.

What about wireless charging? That would be the dream. Apple is expected to release new AirPods that support wireless charging, so theoretically it would release these over-ear headphones at the same time and with wireless charging. That said, Apple and wireless charging haven’t been great friends of late; we’re still waiting on the AirPower charging matt that was announced a year-and-a-half ago. When Apple does announce its new headphones, I doubt they’d support wireless charging. But who knows? It could surprise us.

What Will Apple Name Them?

The new over-ear headphones will no doubt fall in line with Apple’s other “Pod” audio products, such as the EarPods, AirPods, HomePod and the iPod. It’d make sense, then, that these new headphones would have “Pod” in its name. The most popular would-be-name floating around the rumor mill is the “Apple StudioPods.” And honestly, we can’t think of anything better.

Let’s Talk Price.

These so-called StudioPods will be designed as premium over-ear headphones, and they’ll have a price to reflect that. We’re guessing that Apple will price them a shade more expensive than most popular noise-canceling headphones by Sony, Bose and even Beats, which are all in the $350-range. If it priced the StudioPods, we’re guessing that Apple enthusiasts will still jump out of their chairs to buy them. Easy pairing, great sound, noise cancellation and the fact that they’ll match their current Apple workstation — all these are reasons why costing $400 won’t be an issue.

Matte Black? Maybe.

Apple has been notoriously stubborn when it comes to colors for its products, but more specifically for its audio products. Its EarPods and AirPods, for starters, are only available in white. And its HomePod is only available in either white or space gray. If we were to guess, we’d say that the StudioPods will be available in either white or space gray, too, as most people will want a color to match their setup. Of course, there’s a good chance that they’ll only come in white, which is true with their other headphones and earbuds. Matte black is another option that makes sense, as most headphones are available in some varient of black, but something tells us that Apple could do things differently.

When Can We Expect Them?

Sometime in 2019, just like Apple’s second-gen AirPods and AirPower charging mat. We hope.