Apple upgraded AirPods earlier this year with a brand new H1 chip that quickly found its way inside the impressive Powerbeats Pro earphones from Beats. Apple’s H1 chip delivers faster device switching and lower latency for wireless headphones.
Beats currently uses Apple’s older W1 chip from the original AirPods inside Solo and Studio headphones. Both models are prime candidates for the “Pro” upgrade with Apple’s H1 chip and potentially even bigger changes. Which pair of headphones should Beats update first and what might we expect from such an upgrade?
Apple H1 what?
Okay, so what’s the difference in Apple’s two headphone chips anyway? Here’s how Apple describes the chip upgrade for AirPods:
Powered by the all-new Apple H1 headphone chip, AirPods deliver a faster and more stable wireless connection to your devices — up to 2x faster when switching between active devices, and a 1.5x faster connection time for phone calls. The H1 chip also drives voice-enabled Siri access and delivers up to 30 percent lower gaming latency. So whether you’re playing games, listening to music, or enjoying podcasts, you’ll experience higher-quality sound.
Starting with iOS 13 later this fall, Apple’s H1 chip also powers a new ‘Announce Messages with Siri’ feature that lets you automatically hear your new messages and optionally reply without needing to ask Siri.
Second-gen AirPods and Powerbeats Pro use the new H1 chip but Beats Solo and Beats Studio still use the older W1 chip.
Solo or Studio?
It seems unlikely that Beats would release two new pairs of wireless headphones — especially if Solo and Studio get the ‘Pro’ treatment with more than just a chip change — so which model should leap forward first?
Beats Solo 3 Wireless debuted in fall 2016 one year before Beats Studio 3 Wireless, and Beats started the ‘Pro’ tier with Powerbeats. This suggests Beats Solo Pro could come first since they’re older and next in the wireless lineup in terms of price.
If Beats spreads the “Pro” love to the wireless headphones line, what should we expect from Solo Pro or Studio Pro?
Powerbeats 3 Wireless to Powerbeats Pro was much more than a chip upgrade from W1 to H1 — although “Hey Siri” and the new “Announce Messages with Siri” features come with W1.
Beats also removed the cable between each earphone, streamlined the external design and overhauled the internal speaker system, and brought AirPods intelligence to the calling experience. Wireless earphones need to go totally wireless, but heavier wireless headphones probably need a band between each earpiece to stay on your ears.
A pro upgrade for Beats on-ear or over-headphones could still mean an updated external design and overhauled speakers. Perhaps a switch from micro USB to Lightning is also in order (although USB-C charging would be preferred).
“Pro” branding also suggests a new, higher-priced entry in the lineup and not a replacement product. Beats hasn’t announced any more Apple H1 products since Powerbeats Pro earphones (which still have more colors coming), but it’s only a matter of time before the Apple-owned company similarly modernizes its headphones line.
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