I think the AirPods 4 need to steal this from the Beats Studio Buds+

Beats Studio Buds+ transparent
(Image credit: Future)

Transparent (or translucent) technology is nothing new. I mean it’s not even revolutionary for Apple, who’s new Beats Studio Buds+ see-through design is playfully reminiscent of the Bondi Blue iMac G3. So, I wonder, why can’t AirPods seem to have the same kind of fun?

With the Studio Buds+, the color and charisma of Beats by Dre products again offer a stark contrast to the tedious AirPods earbuds. Sure, there’s something simple and sophisticated about the white stemmed AirPods Pro 2 I carry with me practically everywhere I go. I never have to worry about them not matching my outfit, obviously. But after unboxing the transparent Beats earbuds, my AirPods seem a little… boring.


♬ So Low - Shiloh Dynasty & LofiCentral

Interest in colored AirPods seems to perk up whenever a new pair is rumored to launch. Yet five AirPods earbuds models later, the design language has hardly evolved. All AirPods, besides the $549 AirPods Max, look like the same product in different fonts.

That’s definitely one way to establish a rock-solid brand identity (and subsequently give way to hundreds of knock-offs and counterfeits). It’s also one way to accidently swap AirPods with family members and colleagues. If I didn’t have a pink beaded lanyard on my AirPods Pro 2, I can’t even count how many times I might’ve mixed them up with someone else’s pair.

With my transparent Studio Buds+, that’s not something I’ll be worried about. Rather than blend in, the exposed design is bold and exciting. The earbuds aren’t scared to offer a peek at what’s happening inside. It’s just the right amount of vulnerability to reveal that the Beats brand doesn’t take itself too seriously.

While the Beats Fit Pro embraced both a Kim Kardashian collaboration and an amazing neon refresh, the see-through Studio Buds+ have a distinctly nostalgic flair. Now, I’m not saying the next AirPods need to deviate from a modern design, but they should look to adopt more options for letting customers find a style that best fits their personality. 

iPhones, iPads and Mac all come in different colors. When new versions of these products launch, I look forward to debating color choices with people online, and even going to the Apple store to see them all displayed in-person. 

That kind of experience is missing for AirPods. There’s only ever one model of each earbuds, leaving the customization to AirPods cases. And still, the buds are the same plain white finish. 

AirPods 4, or whatever the next-generation AirPods are called, would be well-suited in multiple color options. If the colors match the new iPhone 15, even better.

More from Tom's Guide

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.