The rumour mill is building up for a launch of a new pair of over-ears from Apple dubbed the AirPods X. As is the way with Apple, there have been plenty or rumours but not much concrete evidence. A few recent leaks suggest the Apple over-ears are indeed arriving in 2020.
The last time we heard any speculation about Apple’s over-ears, reports suggested it could break as part of its ‘Show Time’ event in 2019. Instead the AirPods (2019) were announced, followed up the Beats PowerBeats Pro.
Another leak, this time from Apple’s own iOS 14 code, has revealed the presence of a new over-ear headphone, and they could launch as soon as March with the name AirPods X.
Apple AirPods X − What would they look like?
Back in 2018, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated Apple was looking to release “its own-brand, high-end over-ear headphones with all-new design; to be as convenient as AirPods with better sound quality”. Ming has been right in the past, correctly predicting the new AirPods and AirPods Pro, so he’s a voice to be trusted.
What would they look like? The mystery images in the iOS 14 depicts white and black colourways, and we’d wager they’d probably be around the same size as the Beats Solo Pro.
Apple AirPods X − What features would they have?
We’d expect them to feature the H1 chip, unless Apple has an even faster version in the works. The H1 which enables faster connection to devices, Siri voice control and Bluetooth 5.0.
Tech site Macworld claimed it would have active noise-cancellation and wireless charging. The former seems likely, considering the success of the AirPods Pro. Apple’s support of wireless charging in the 2019 AirPods would make sense, but we’ve not seen an over-ear with wireless charging yet.
Apple’s AirPods are renowned for their fairly good battery life. Noise-cancelling headphones tend to hit 30 hours and that would be our expectation for the StudioPods.
What else? Touch controls are likely and perhaps a Lightning connection, though that is being disputed with the EU looking to enforced standardised charging across all devices. Wear functionality would be a good fit, with the headphones stopping playback when taken off the head.
Apple AirPods X − How would they sound?
The AirPods weren’t the most distinguished performers audio wise. That all changed with the AirPods Pro, which were a step up in every regard – fit, comfort, noise isolation and most importantly, audio.
Over-ears offer better noise isolation thanks to its sealed enclosure. A closed-backed design is more likely and would mirror all other premium noise-cancellers
Would Apple take inspiration from Beats’ own headphones? While Beats has been known for its bass-heavy audio signature in the past, both the PowerBeats Pro and Solo Pro have made good steps to neutrality.
Related: Best wireless headphones
Apple AirPods X− How much would they cost?
They’re unlikely to be cheap. Apple commands a high price and we expect the ‘AirPods X’ to be no different.
Bloomberg reported in June 2018 that the Apple over-ears are in competition with Bose and Sennheiser. That means a price tag of £350/$399, the same as the Bose NC 700 Headphones and Sennheiser Momentum Wireless.
Could they be more expensive? B&O’s BeoPlay H9i has an RRP of £450. If they wanted to be competitive, £350 would be the asking price, but the AirPods Pro showed Apple isn’t shy about bucking the trend.
Apple AirPods X − Release date
In his recent note to investors, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo pegged a release date of 2020. Despite the numerous delays that have seen it bounce all over the calendar, he still expects a premium Bluetooth headphone this year.
There was a mention that the AirPods X would be revealed at Apple’s Spring event. With that now cancelled, will the announcement be postponed? We’ll have to wait and see.