Apple is launching Beats Studio Pro headphones – but where are the AirPods Max 2?

Beats Studio3
The Beats Studio 3 were first released in 2017. (Image credit: Beats/Apple)

The rumored Beats Studio Pro look to be really happening, after the headphones were spotted in a US FCC filing – the regulatory paperwork that tends to get done just before a product launch – by MacRumors on June 20. 

The headphones first turned up in a leak in iOS beta last month, which was a pleasant surprise for us as we were beginning to think that Apple was more interested in making one of the best earbuds than one of the best over-ear headphones

After all, six years is a mighty long time in the world of high-end headphones to wait for a new model, but that's how long it's been since Beats launched the Beats Studio 3 headphones. Since they first appeared in 2017, Apple has tweaked them a little bit, but the core product hasn't really changed and feels very old compared to the best headphones from rivals. 

The same applies to AirPods Max. I've got a pair and love them dearly, but Apple's AirPods Max snub in iOS 17 appears to suggest that they have lost interest in them – some of the fancy headphone features announced in iOS 17 aren't coming to its most expensive headphones. 

What do we know about Beats Studio Pro?

There's no details of the specifications, but previous leaks have strongly suggested that the Beats Studio Pro will be a more affordable alternative to the aging AirPods Max. 

Code spotted in the iOS 17 beta strongly suggests that these headphones will have personalized spatial audio and improved noise canceling, which indicates that they'll probably have the same H2 chip that's in the AirPods Pro 2 or a Beats-flavored equivalent. That means a massive upgrade from the Beats Studio 3, in particular, because this older tech doesn't support transparency mode let alone anything more fancy.

Beats Studio 3 launched with a price tag of $349 / £349 / AU$499 and I'd expect the Beats Studio Pro to be priced similarly. That makes them considerably more affordable than Apple's $550 / £550 / AU$899 AirPods Max, which are starting to look even more overpriced than when they first came out. 

Rivals such as Sony's WH-1000XM5 are objectively better, and – despite a price hike over their predecessors – they're considerably cheaper too. The WH-100XM5 retails for $399 / £380 / AU$649 and we're seeing deals that take the price down significantly. If the price is right, these headphones could put Beats back in the game again.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.