Apple now makes AirPods for Android – is the walled garden starting to crack?

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Apple now makes AirPods for Android – is the walled garden starting to crack?
Apple's new Beats Studio Buds are now available to purchase, and we couldn't help but ask ourselves a few questions… Who are they for? Why do they exist? What is Apple trying to achieve? Are they too good to be true? We can keep going...

Android compatibility

Out of the gate, the most intriguing thing about Apple's "AirPods for Android" is that they… work with Android phones.

Not that AirPods usually don't work with Android - they do. AirPods use Bluetooth like any other pair of wireless earbuds, so you can connect them to any phone, tablet, computer, or just any device that has Bluetooth and… sounds drivers.

In fact, I've been using Huawei's FreeBuds Pro with my iPhone and Apple's AirPods with my Huawei P30 Pro for literally years now! I know, that's VERY strange, but… don't judge, please! Let's move on...

Android users now get anything from simple iPhone-like pairing to Transparency Mode and Spatial Audio. While the earbuds do away with a few features, they make up with others that you don't get on Apple's AirPods Pro, for example.

USB-C: So… It's possible?!

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The longer I stare at this sentence, the weirder it gets. Apple denies their (pretty loyal) customers from USB-C on AirPods but gives it to the Beats Studio Buds for Android?! That's immediately confusing. Yes, it makes perfect sense because you know… Android phones use USB-C. But so do Apple's own iPad Pro and MacBook!

If Apple was trying to attract Android users to switch to the iPhone, they wouldn't make the Beats earbuds compatible with Android in the first place, right? Let alone give them a USB-C port… This means Apple must be trying to appeal to the masses, which is not exactly an "Apple move". The Beats Studio Buds charge via USB-C, which is an absolute first for a pair of Apple headphones/earbuds.

Price & Actual value for money: Are they worth it?

The second aspect of the Beats Studio Buds that raises some eyebrows is the price. But this time for looking rather… "normal". See, Apple's AirPods go for just $159, and the Beats earbuds cost only $10 less, at $149 - that's within the margin of "no difference".

However, given that the AirPods Pro were the only TWS Apple earbuds until now to have ANC, it's a little bit strange to see the $149 Beats Studio Buds come with ANC. That's right - they support Active Noise-Cancelling.

What's also interesting is that Beats by Dre, or what's left from it, was known to be a premium brand for (let's be honest) pretty much overpriced shiny, bassy headphones. They certainly had their place in the market - otherwise, Apple wouldn’t have bought Beats. But the point is - they were expensive headphones.

Now, Apple's slowly transforming the Beats brand into a "budget" one size fits all solution.

Beats Studio Buds

Beats Studio Buds are now available on Amazon and work with Apple & Android! They give you ANC, IPX4 sweat and water-resistance, Transparency Mode, and much more.

"Beats Studio Buds" – Greeds by Dre?

All of the controversial choices regarding the Beats Studio Buds made by Apple lead to one question - do they exist to make everyone happy or make Apple money? The latter is surefire. There's no company that doesn't adhere to this golden rule.

However, the first one is… 50/50. It's not certain if Apple's generally trying to start breaking down the "Apple" garden wall and let everyone taste the fruit, or if the guys from Cupertino simply want to make a good impression before... the court?

We can't forget that Apple's in a bit of a "hot water" situation. Tim Cook and company are fighting a few court battles. The company's being investigated for anti-competitive practices in Europe, while on August 13, 2020, Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple for antitrust violations and anticompetitive behavior.

So are the Beats Studio Buds a lawsuit-noise-canceling pair of earphones? That can't be said for sure, but it sure looks like Apple's trying to appear more… liberal, relatable, or whatever you'd like to call it.

Just recently, the company announced in a press release that it's opening the "Find My" network for locating lost items with AirTag to any device that might want to utilize it. Until recently, this was very much an "Apple devices-exclusive" feature.

Again recently, it was announced that Apple's developing an app for Android devices that will help people "detect" an AirTag that may be following them. This was not announced during the unveiling of the AirTag, but later - after several media outlets and the public expressed their concerns over the potential security threats for people who don't own an iPhone (which can alert you when it detects an AirTag that's traveling with or near you). Those events happened to coincide with the unfolding legal disputes.

Why get Beats Studio Buds and not AirPods / AirPods Pro

Law and order aside, what else separates the Beats Studio Buds from the AirPods and AirPods Pro?

n a nutshell, the Beats earbuds will let you:

  • ANC - perfect for noisy walks, rides, and whatnot
  • Sweat it out - they are IPX4 sweat and water-resistant
  • Have some color in your life - they come in white, black, and red
  • Talk to someone without the need to take off your earbuds or hear passing traffic - they support Transparency Mode
  • Listen to Spatial Audio tracks and media
  • Enjoy bassy music - that's a Beats specialty

But you won't get:

  • Siri on demand (AirPods, AirPods Pro)
  • Touch (tap & hold) controls (AirPods, AirPods Pro)
  • Wireless Charging (AirPods with wireless-charging case; AirPods Pro)
  • Class-leading microphone quality (AirPods Pro)
  • Class-leading Transparency Mode (although that's available on Beats Studio Buds, it's not quite the same due to the poorer microphone quality)
  • Balanced sounds quality (AirPods, AirPods Pro)
  • Automatic device switching (AirPods, AirPods Pro)
  • Auto pause/play when removing the earbuds from your ears (AirPods, AirPods Pro)

All in all, whether the Beats Studio Buds are a genuine attempt to open up Apple's ecosystem, an apology for supposed anti-competitive behavior, or a little of both - it doesn't matter. At least for the end-user.

If you're "an Android folk", who wants a pair of good-value bassy earbuds with ANC made by Apple, this might be the right time! Although, FYI: the AirPods 3 are rumored to arrive later this year, so if you use an iPhone, it might be worth holding on.

Also, as a side note: With the release of the Beats Studio Buds, it's only the iPhone left that makes Apple users carry an additional cable to charge their devices. If you decide to go for a pair of Beats Studio Buds over AirPods, you can carry only one USB-C charger and cable combo to charge your: iPad, earbuds, and Macbook. You'll need a Lightning cable or MagSafe for your iPhone unless you're using a different wireless charger.

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