Fun transparent design (other colors are available)
Improved ANC and sound quality
Good battery life
Don’t sound as good as AirPods Pro
Missing a few Apple ecosystem features
No wireless charging
Priced similarly to 3rd-gen AirPods, the Beats Studio Buds+ have a more usable design, ANC, and better sound quality. But they’re missing a few Apple ecosystem perks and 2nd-gen AirPods Pro have more features and sound better.
Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide
In our review of the original Beats Studio Buds, we found they outclassed AirPods Pro in several ways but lacked some Apple-specific features. That, along with mediocre noise canceling, made them less desirable for Apple enthusiasts.
The revamped version, Beats Studio Buds +, improves on the original in many important ways. But Apple also has a new model—the second-generation AirPods Pro—that seriously raise the stakes. Again, I enjoyed the design and usability of these Beats earbuds but find the latest AirPods Pro easier to recommend.
These are earbuds made for both Apple and Android users and lack Apple’s homegrown H1 or H2 chip that enables certain features within the Apple ecosystem. I’d take them over AirPods any day, but they don’t quite match AirPods Pro.
You can get AirPods in any color you want, as long as it’s white. Bo-ring! Apple’s Beats brand has always been unconstrained with its colorways, and the Studio Buds + is no exception with its retro frosted transparent plastic for both the buds and case.
If that’s not your thing, they’re available in black and ivory, too.
The charging case is a bit larger than that of AirPods or AirPods Pro but still easy to pocket. You’ll find a USB-C charge port on the bottom but there’s no wireless charging capability.
The buds themselves are of average size and fit…well…like most in-ear buds do. With the right eartips (four sizes are included) it’s easy to get a good seal and they stay in even through a fair bit of jostling around. While they don’t fall out, I lost the seal a couple of times on almost any trip to the gym, though, while I didn’t have that issue with the Beats Fit Pro thanks to the little wingtips.
Still, they stay in my ears at least as well as AirPods Pro, and the actual physical buttons on the side of each earbud are far more usable than Apple’s foolish “squeeze the stem” control scheme for AirPods.
Improved audio all around
Sound quality is improved over the original Beats Studio Buds, thanks to almost completely reworked internal components. There are new microphones, redesigned ventilation, new transducers, and bigger batteries. You can notice the difference immediately.
While the sound quality is better, I do notice slightly more detail when I listen to music with the second-gen AirPods Pro.
Beats claims 1.6x better noise canceling and 2x better transparency than before, and I immediately noticed a big improvement over the prior version. But neither feature quite holds a candle to the fantastic AirPods Pro in that regard. The transparency feature isn’t adaptive, either; it can’t suddenly ramp up to dull an extra-loud sound like AirPods Pro can. Still, these are priced closer to the 3rd-gen AirPods, which don’t have ANC/transparency at all.
Battery life is rated at 6 hours with ANC enabled or 9 with it off and the case will recharge the buds three times. In my experience, that estimate seems about right.
Anyone would be pleased with the sound performance of these sub-$200 earbuds. They sound better than 3rd-gen AirPods, but the 2nd-gen AirPods Pro deliver an overall superior audio experience all around.
Not quite AirPods
Some Beats products use Apple’s own headphone chips, but the Beats Studio Buds + do not. That means you get some Apple ecosystem features, but not everything AirPods gives you. Hands-free “Hey Siri” is there, as is instant pairing with your iPhone and support for the Find My app.
But you don’t get instant switching between Apple devices, support for spatial audio with video (any headphones can use Spatial Audio in Apple Music), personalized spatial audio, Conversation Boost, or the in-ear detection that automatically pauses playback when you take an earbud out.
On the other hand, stepping away from the Apple-designed H1 or H2 chips means that these earbuds can support a bunch of useful Android features. They support Google Fast Pair, Audio Switch, and Find My Device, and there’s a Beats App for Android that lets you do things like name your device, see battery levels, or toggle noise canceling and transparency settings. You definitely won’t get any of that with AirPods!
Great for the not-Apple-only crowd
If you need earbuds to use with both Apple and non-Apple devices, these are a great choice. If you’re going to use them with just an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch, you’re better off with the latest AirPods Pro despite the slightly superior design of these ‘buds.
Priced about the same as third-generation AirPods, you’ll get overall superior sound quality and the addition of active noise cancellation with Beats Studio Buds +. These are easy to recommend over regular AirPods.
However, if you want the best in-ear buds to use within the Apple ecosystem, you’ll find second-gen AirPods Pro offer more features and better sound for just a bit more cash.