At their press event in San Francisco Apple announced new wireless AirPods that work with the iPhone 7 – neither of which has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. They also announced 3 new Beats headphones that use the same wireless technology: the Solo 3, Powerbeats 3 and Beats X. What’s the difference between them? And what deals should audiophiles expect for the AirPods and Beats new wireless range on Cyber Monday and Black Friday 2017?
The AirPods feature a new W1 chip and the ability to talk with Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, with just a tap. They provide 5 hours of battery life on a single charge and up to 24 hours in their custom charging case. They can play music paired to both Apple and non Apple products – the new W1 chip works like a regular Bluetooth sensor for non Apple products but allows for faster connection to Apple devices. Pairing is a simple as hitting the connect button that pops up on your iPhone – no need to dig through your settings.
We forecast the price of the AirPods to drop on Cyber Monday. Here’s the main reasons why:
- The backlash against the removal of the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 & 7 Plus (which also led to this hilarious parody) has led to criticism of the AirPods by major news outlets and tech websites, reducing demand
- Most shoppers simply aren’t willing to spend over $150 for in-ear headphones. The headphone market is more competitive than ever and companies like Sennheiser offer high quality wireless earphones for a lot closer to the $100 price point
- Fears that the small earphones will be easily misplaced have also concerned shoppers
Apple will be looking to squash concerns surrounding the AirPods and the best way for them to do that is by offering them on sale on Cyber Monday. Expect plenty of deals which bundle the AirPods with iTunes gift cards too.
Alongside the AirPods, Apple has announced that Beats will be launching a range of wireless headphones in October. The Solo 3 and Powerbeats 3 are updates of existing product lines, whilst the Beats X is a new, more affordable earbud range. All 3 models use Apple’s new W1 chip for audio output.
Beats Solo 3 Wireless
The Beats Solo 3 wireless headphone offer up to 40 hours of listening time. Available in 6 different shades including gloss black, matte black, white and gold, they are currently available on the Apple store. The new Fast Fuel technology promises 3 hours of playback from just a 15 minute charge. Driven by the efficiency of the W1 chip, you can also keep track of battery life with the illuminated LEDs on the headphones, similar to the previous generation Solo 2 headphones.
The Beats Solo 3 are an update to the established and successful Solo headphone range. This year retailers will first be looking to shift previous generation Solo 2 stock before offering discounts on the latest model. Expect discounts on Solo 2 headphones on Black Friday & Cyber Monday but don’t hold your breath for similar deals on the Solo 3’s this year.
Powerbeats 3 Wireless
On the other hand the Powerbeats 3 Wireless provides 12 hours of battery life and is ideal for workouts. They’re pretty similar to the popular Powerbeats 2 earphones, with the addition of the brand new W1 chip.
As with the Solo 3 range, we expect retailers to keep the Powerbeats 3 at close to it’s original price point throughout Black Friday & Cyber Monday, whilst discounting Powerbeats 2 earphone significantly. Expect fitness bundle deals from sports retailers to include the Powerbeats 3 as well.
The Beats X are slightly cheaper than the Powerbeats 3. They come in two different colors, have 8 hours of battery life as well as Fast Fuel charging technology. Although branded as wireless, a small cable connects the two earbuds and hangs around the neck.
Beats X is a clear intention from Apple that Beats are focused on expanding into the mid-range earphone market. With an initial price point of $150, Beats X appeals to those attracted to the Beats by Dre brand but priced out of their previous offerings. We predict that Cyber Monday will see online electronics retailers offer the Beats X earbuds at a discount. Priced too low and they risk cheapening the brand image, any higher and customers will be snatched away by competing companies like JBL, Sennheiser and Sony.
You might have missed it but Beats have also quietly released a new pair of wired headphones called Beats EP. While the world is going wireless, why are Beats by Dre still releasing wired headphones?
The answer is that they’re looking to focus on sound quality and respond to audiophile critics who complain that Bluetooth headphones sacrifice a small amount of sound quality. Those interested in an affordable pair of Beats that sound better should be looking at Beats EP this Cyber Monday. An on-ear design with a stainless steel reinforced frame gives the EP’s a unique look whilst maintaining the classic Beats shape. It’s a bold move to release a pair of wired headphones whilst the iPhone 7’s jack-less design threatens to re-shape the market, but with huge brand loyalty and the promise of improved audio the Beats EP will no doubt find its market.
Beats Studio 3 & Studio Wireless
Last year the Black Friday & Cyber Monday deals on Beats Studio headphones were more modest. Prices dropped a reasonable amount at the biggest online retailers, with Amazon offering far and away the best deals. The brand new Studio 3 headphones are sure to be a big seller this holiday season – we’re waiting to see if we see any Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts on these. This could be a good thing for Black Friday shoppers interested in older models too – prices will likely be heavily discounted this year as retailers look to free up shelf space for new models like the Studio 3 and Solo 3 headphones.
Beats have been known for big sound and big bass so it was inevitable they’d release a range of Bluetooth speakers for the home. There’s two different Beats Pills on the market right now – the Pill 2.0 and Pill +. The Pill + is the newest model and is the first designed by Apple since they took over Beats. As such it has a refined, Apple style design and improved audio performance. The Pill 2.0 is a little older but a great all-round lightweight speaker. We expect to see big Black Friday & Cyber Monday discounts on the Pill 2.0, bringing its price down lower than ever before. The Pill + is still relatively new to market so discounts will likely be more modest.