If you have an Android phone, these are among the best-value true wireless earbuds you can buy right now
- Great sound
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Few customisation options in app
- No Apple H1 chip
- Nothing else at this price
Apple’s Airpods are ubiquitous to the point they’re the headphones most people think of when you say “true wireless” earbuds. However, with Beats’ new Studio Buds, there’s a new kid on the block. These small, lightweight earbuds look and sound great and come with some features you might usually expect to find only on premium models. As such, they’re very easy to recommend, but Apple users might want to check their feature list carefully before investing.
Beats Studio Buds: What do you get for the money?
The Studio Buds have most of the features that you’d want in a pair of true wireless earbuds. As well as boasting a small, neat design (each bud weighs a mere 5g), they’ve got active noise cancellation and, unlike the cheaper Beats Flex, they have IPX4 splash resistance, meaning you should have no problems using them in the rain or during intense, sweaty workouts.
Battery life is solid too. Beats claims you can get up to eight hours of listening from each charge and that can be extended to a full 24 hours using the small, pill-box shaped USB-C charging case. That’s a very respectable spec list for a pair of true wireless earbuds that cost just £129 at launch (and have already been available for as little as £99).
However, it’s worth pointing out that you don’t get all the features you might expect from a pair of Apple earphones. Despite offering one-touch pairing for Apple (and Android) users plus Siri voice support, there’s no H1 or W1 chip in the earbuds, which means you miss out on some of the more advanced flourishes you can enjoy with Apple’s AirPods products.
Perhaps most significantly, the Studio Buds won’t pair with all your Apple devices via iCloud after pairing them with your phone. Instead, you’ll need to pair the earphones with your iPhone, MacBook and iPad separately if you want to use them with each of those devices. There’s also no option to take advantage of Apple’s shared listening feature, as you can even with the budget Beats Flex earphones. The Beats Studio Buds do support Apple’s spatial audio but only in a very limited way. That is, you can listen to spatial audio tracks on Apple Music, but you won’t benefit from the same effect while watching movies on your iOS device.
There’s also no auto-pausing when you take an earbud out of your ear and, true to form, there’s not much in the way of customisation options via the Beats app. You can choose whether a long-press on the left or right bud changes the noise cancellation mode (between on, off and transparency mode) or summons your phone’s voice assistant but there’s nothing more you can do to customise your user experience.
Beats Studio Buds: What do we like?
Thankfully, that’s not a deal-breaker as the Beats Studio Buds are among the best-sounding earphones I’ve used in this price range. Heck, they compete with earphones that cost double the price when it comes to sheer clarity and instrument separation. As with more recent Beats headphones, such as the Flex and Solo Pro, the brand has embraced a balanced, neutral sound profile, and there’s plenty of bass, without it ever feeling overbearing.
Where the similarly priced Nothing Ear (1) left me a bit cold as far as audio quality is concerned, I’ve really enjoyed listening to music on the Studio Buds to the extent that I’d have no desire to fiddle with their EQ, even if I could. Thanks to their diminutive and comfortable design and all-round solid connectivity, they’ve quickly become my preferred everyday earphones in recent weeks.
So how good is the ANC? While it might not be able to compete with the very best noise-canceling you get on more expensive headphones, it’s more than enough to be able to tell the difference when using it on a commute or in a busy office. As you’d expect from any good ANC earphones, the Studio Buds perform well enough in this respect that you can comfortably listen to music a notch or two quieter than you otherwise might.
Finally, there’s that IPX4 water-resistance rating, which makes the Studio Buds a superior proposition to the Beats Flex for anyone who likes to listen to music or podcasts while exercising.
Beats Studio Buds: How can they be improved?
As I’ve already touched on, the obvious way to improve the Beats Studio Buds would be to include Apple’s H1 chip, so that they can be more fully integrated into the Apple ecosystem. If you’re an Android user, this won’t matter to you at all but if you’ve previously had Airpods, you’ll likely find the Studio Buds a significant backward step in terms of features and convenience.
Elsewhere, there’s very little to criticise. Some users might not like that there’s no volume control on the earbuds themselves but, since I often find touch control finicky, this didn’t bother me too much. If anything, the lack of auto pausing when removing one of the earbuds from your ears is more of a problem.
Beats Studio Buds: Should I buy them?
Overall, as an Android phone owner myself, I think Beats has got nearly everything right with the Studio buds. Their appearance, comfort and sound quality belies their relatively low price, making them a great option if you’re looking for an affordable but decent everyday pair of ANC earphones.
Of course, if you’re an iPhone user, it’s a slightly less tantalising package. If your phone is the only Apple device you own, you might not miss the features I’ve outlined above. If, however, you’re fully embedded in the Apple ecosystem, you’re definitely better off saving up and buying a pair of AirPods Pro instead.