Headphones

Beats won't have a new Studio Wireless headphone in 2016

A sequel to Beats over-ear wireless noise-canceling headphone isn't coming anytime soon, CNET has learned.

Sarah Tew

With the launch of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, Apple-owned Beats announced four new headphone models: The Solo3 Wireless, an update to its popular on-ear model, the Powerbeats3 Wireless, an update to its wireless sports headphone, the all-new Beats X neckband-style headphone and an entry-level wired headphone, the Ep.

Conspicuously missing from the roll out was a new version of the over-ear Studio Wireless, which also features noise-canceling and is the Beats headphone I personally like best. I thought Beats might be holding back on an announcement, but an update to that headphone isn't slated for release anytime soon -- and certainly not in 2016 -- according to a person familiar with the company's plans.

The reason? Beats can't yet achieve the battery improvements needed to distinguish a Studio Wireless sequel from the current model. That's a big contrast to the major battery life gains in Beats' aforementioned updated wireless headphones, which come courtesy of Apple's new custom low-energy Bluetooth chip, the W1. The Solo3 Wireless, for example, wrings out three times the lifespan from the exact same battery found in the Solo2. But the W1 can't offer any energy savings on the active noise-canceling feature on the Studio Wireless.

With the more than two-year old Studio Wireless continuing to sell well -- online pricing for it has dipped to $250 and even lower if you opt for a refurbished model (it lists for $379, £330 and AU$480) -- Beats presumably isn't in any rush to do the more extensive overhaul that's required to significantly improve it.

The long and short of it is that if you've been eyeing the Beats Studio Wireless at its lower price, you can purchase it without worrying a new model is around the corner. Of course, there are several new competing premium wireless noise-canceling models to choose from -- including the Bose QuietComfort 35 and the Sony MDR-1000X -- although most will cost you at least $350, £300 or AU$500.

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