Beats Studio Buds design revealed in regulatory photos

Beats Studio Buds
(Image credit: 9to5Mac)

Another close-up look at the Beats Studio Buds, Apple’s unannounced wireless earbuds, has popped up courtesy of a Taiwanese regulator.

The photos were published in the National Communications Commission (NCC) database (flagged by MacRumors) as part of an official regulation submission from Apple for a set of earbuds simply labeled as "Beats." But these earbuds look to have the same ultra-compact design of the rumoured Beats Studio Buds, previously seen in other photo leaks and LeBron James’s ears, so we can be fairly confident we're seeing the Studio Buds in these regulatory photos. 

Once again, then, we can see that the Studio Buds ditches the ear loops favoured by past Beats models — like the Powerbeats Pro — in favor of a smaller and more stylish bud shape, with what looks like a particularly tiny touch sensor sticking outwards. It also appears to use silicone ear tips, which judging from these photos can be removed.

Beats Studio Buds

(Image credit: National Communications Commission/MacRumors)

The NCC was evidently sizing up the Beats Studio Buds, as the photos also reveal the buds to barely measure 1-inch wide with an ear tip installed. That’s only slightly wider than the AirPods Pro, which has extra room for internals in its stems.

Also according to MacRumors, the NCC’s database indicates that the Beats Studio Buds’ charging case will recharge over USB-C rather than use Apple’s own Lightning connector. Black, white and red models will supposedly be available, though we’ve only seen the black model in these various pre-release glimpses.

The Beats Studio Buds’ features and price also remain a mystery. The in-ear design could point towards active noise cancellation (ANC), but there are plenty of non-ANC earbuds, so this is far from a given. Hopefully there’s some form of water/sweat resistance, though: Beats has produced some of the best sports headphones, and the Studio Buds could adopt this workout-friendly feature even if it lacks the secure fit afforded by ear loops.

What is likely is the inclusion of either Apple’s H1 or W1 chips, which would allow the Beats Studio Buds to automatically play spatial audio on Apple Music, as do several other pairs of Beats headphones.

Right now we’re expecting the Beats Studio Buds release date to be sometime either this summer or early fall, given Beats brand advocate LeBron James has already been seen wearing them. This would bring it into competition with the newly-announced Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds, but might leave room for the AirPods 3 to launch later in the year.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.