iOS16.4 appears to tip new Apple Beats Studio Buds Plus

Apple Beats Studio Buds Plus Leaked Image
Leaked image of Apple Beats Studio Buds Plus (Image credit: 9 to 5 Mac)

Apple may be readying an improved version of the Beats Studio Buds to hit shelves soon, based on code spotted in the latest version of iOS.

As 9 to 5 Mac reports, the refreshed wireless earbuds are set to be called the Beats Studio Buds Plus and support for them has seemingly been unearthed inside the freshly deployed Release Candidate (RC) of iOS 16.4. (This just went out to developers, before a public rollout due imminently, no doubt).

The new Beats Studio Buds Plus look pretty much the same as the current earbuds in terms of design, with 9 to 5 Mac having obtained supposedly leaked pics showing the Buds Plus in black with gold highlights.

The earbuds will sport better noise cancellation and transparency, we’re told, and will be able to switch between noise-canceling modes via a press-and-hold action. The nuggets found in iOS 16.4 code also show that the earbuds will benefit from ‘Hey Siri’ support, audio sharing, and automatic device switching.

There’s an interesting twist with this leak, though, in that 9 to 5 Mac originally claimed the overhauled Beats earbuds are switching to use an Apple chip (H1/W1). However, the tech site then updated its article to note that after checking further, sources said that the Beats Studio Buds Plus will actually stick with a proprietary Beats chip – despite the mention of the ‘Hey Siri’ capability being ushered in.

MacRumors also tapped its sources, who claimed that the incoming earbuds will indeed use a custom Beats chip, as seen with the existing Beats Studio Buds.

Analysis: The Beats go on – but will the price go up?

Given that iOS 16.4 is on the verge of going out to iPhone owners, and that we have what are seemingly spilled images here, plus multiple sources chiming in on this, it seems a fair bet that the Beats Studio Buds Plus are indeed coming - and that they’ll probably be announced quite soon.

What isn’t clear is whether they will be a successor to the Beats Studio Buds, whether they'll replace them, or if they’ll be sold alongside the existing earbuds. In the latter case, we can obviously expect a price premium to be added, although the Buds Plus will remain in mid-range pricing territory – this should be more of a slight price bump, not a sizeable hike (we’d guess, anyway, but all of this is speculation, naturally).

What has caused disappointment here is the initial assertion that Apple was moving to use its own chip rather than the custom Beats affair (that powers the Beats Studio Buds), which was subsequently retracted.

Why wouldn’t Apple want to use the H1/W1 with the Buds Plus? The concern is that this is more a matter of wanting to keep that tech to the AirPods as a purchase incentive. Equally, it could just be part of keeping a lid on the cost of making the earbuds.

Furthermore, the report claims that a good chunk of additional functionality is being introduced with the Beats Studio Buds Plus, so it’s not like the revamp isn’t pushing with new features and enhancements (if the claims are correct, at any rate).

Speaking of the AirPods, there are also clues in iOS 16.4 suggesting a new model is on the way, although we don’t know what that might turn out to be. Perhaps the rumored AirPods Lite, or maybe the AirPods Max 2 which Apple is expected to be working away on? Some interesting further leakage could be in the pipeline soon enough, it seems.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).