Beats Studio3 Review - Apple's Missed Opportunity

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Apple quietly announced the new Beats Studio 3 a few days before their iPhone 8 and iPhone X keynote. And surprisingly they didn’t even mention the Beats Studio3 at all during their key note like they did with the beats solo 3 and the beats X last year. And personally I expected a lot more from these headphones. So lets review the Beats Studio 3 and here are my suggestions for the Beats Studio 4. 

Beats have always had a reputation of being expensive and not sounding so great. But they are very stylish and they come in multiple color ways. Right now you have 6 colors to choose from and I know new colors will be released in the future. Unlike the Beats Studio 2 which used to retail for $379.99 the beats Studio 3 did get a price cut and sell for $349.95. If you still want to pick these headphones up I”ll have links in the description  below and I’ll them updated so you can get the best deal possible. Beats frequently go on sale. 

Part of the reason beats are so expensive are because of marketing and packaging. Unboxing the beats Studio3 is like unboxing any other apple product. Its an experience thats makes you feel like you just bought something great. When you open the lid the first thing you see is the hard shell carrying case. Inside the case are the Headphones themselves. And I’m going to tell you right now, the camera does not do the color justice. Its a really bright red, but I like it. Underneath you’ll find your audio cable, documentation, a carabinieri and a micro USB cable for charging. And I know a lot of people have already pointed this out but it is beyond me why Apple decided to keep the micro USB port instead of throwing in a USB type C port or lightning connecter. Cause I really enjoy being able to charge my iPhone and AirPods with the same cable. And on the other side theres your audio jack, which I don’t see getting removed any time soon. I Hope. 

Build quality is questionable at best. The plastic used has me a little worried cause you can actually see through it. But maybe its for weight savings cause these headphones are slightly lighter than the Sony 1000XM2 and Bose QC35 II weighing in at 260 grams. The headband it self doesn’t have too much padding but there is a lot of grip on the bottom so it keeps the Studio3 in place. The ear cups them selves are plush and apple claims they reworked the stitching to make them more comfortable. But I do want to point out that the ear cups themselves are slightly smaller than other over ear head phones. I have what I think are average sized ears and the ear pads still press against my ears unlike the Bose QC35 which completely encase my ears and the 1000XM2 which slightly press against just my earlobe. The headband it self dosnt flex too much and theres slightly more clamping force than the 1000XM2. But its still comfortable to wear. And since they do have a tighter fit they also stay in place better especially when running. The Studio3 can only fold up and cant be laid flat. Which I personally prefer cause it makes storing headphones much easier when traveling. On the left ear cup you’ve got your buttons for basic music playback controls. And If you press and hold the Beats logo you can activate siri. Or you can just Hey siri. And Under the power button you’ve got a battery gauge which is nice. Also if you double press the battery button twice you can toggle the active noise cancelation on and off.

Now I don’t know is this is a result of cheap hinges or if Apple did this on purpose, (drop headphones) but thats pretty cool they snap right in place. The Sony and Bose cant do that! Its like a quick release!

Now I know Uraverageconsumer already touched on this but with the Beats Studio3 you cant use the wired connection when the headphones themselves are turned off. So if you have absolutely no power then you’ve got yourself a $350 head band. But the quality of included audio cable is pretty good. It has the same rubber outer layer like lightning cables and it has the same inline controller that you would find on the Powerbeats 3. And speaking of accessories, the included carrying case isn’t half bad either. The outer layer is covered in synthetic leather and the case itself is very sturdy. So if you were to pack your headphones in your luggage they should be just fine or if you decide to hang the case with your carabinieri your headphones should be fine if they bump into something. Personally I dropped the case down a flight of stairs while I was out getting B Roll and the head phones where just fine. 

Since Beats is owned by Apple, beats are usually better when used with Apple devices. The Beats studio 3 now have Apple’s W1 chip which was introduced last year. And let me tell you, being able to seamlessly switch from either of your apple devices is very convenient. You could be listing to music on your iPhone, watch a video on your iPad, and then switch to your Mac book all without having to pair your headphones. But if you want to use your studio3 with a non apple device all you have todo is press and hold the power button for 5 seconds and pair them via bluetooth. The Beats studio3 also advertise a battery life of 22 hours with Pure ANC on, but in my testing they actually lasted me for almost 25 hours. And with noise canceling off Beats advertises a battery life of 40 hours, but again… in my testing they lasted me for about 47 hours. Not bad at all. But if you were to compare the battery life of the beats studio 3 with other noise canceling headphones on the market, their battery life with the noise cancelation turned on is pretty average cause the Sony 1000XM2 has a real world battery life of 35 hours with noise cancellation turned on. But Beats does kill it when it comes to quick charging. A 10 minute charge gets you 3 hours of playback time. Which is better than both the Sony 1000xM2 and Bose QC35 II. 

The beats Studio 3 also have what apple is calling Pure Adaptive noise cancelation. And basically the noise cancelation will automatically adjust depending on your surroundings. When you’re in a quiet room the nose cancelation is low, you feel no cabin pressure, and it does an ok job of blocking out some sound. 

And then when your surrounding sounds get louder you’ll notice the noise cancelation gets stronger. But when that happens you fell the cabin pressure to start to kick in. Not as much as the Bose QC 35 II but its very noticeable. Like I could only wear them for a while before having to take them off and take a break. But even with the noise cancelation turned up it still wasn’t anywhere as near as good as the Bose or Sony. But at least they didn’t pick up as much wind noise as the Bose. 

Beats have also had a reputation for being super bass heavy headphones. But thats not the case with the Studio3. They still have a good amount of bass to them but its not over powering. I just feel the Miss and instrument separation needs improvement. They don’t sound as good as the 1000XM2 but I prefer these over the Bose QC35 II. 

But I think apple really dropped to ball to beat Google at its own game. Right now voice assistants are the next big thing. Google just announced their pixel buds and Bose released the Bose QC35 II with a dedicated button that streamlines your interactions with google assistant. A single press reads out your notifications and if you tap and hold you’re instantly talking to your assistant, theres no awkward waiting period. 

And apple got a head start when they released the AirPods. And theres no reason the Beats Studio shouldn’t have features from the AirPods. First when I take my AirPods out they automatically pause my music. I want the Beats Studio 4 to do that. And then start the music backup once I put them back on. 

I also think its time apple upgraded the controls on the left ear cup. Buttons are nice but what if  it was a touch pad like the Sony 1000XM2. And what if that touch pad had multitouch so depending on how many fingers were on the touch pad you could do different actions or quickly launch a pre set app on your phone or tablet. 

But more importantly what if with two fingers on the touch pad you can quickly talk to siri just like how you talk to google assistant on the Bose QC35 II. So again this would mean much faster notification read outs and a much more streamlined experience when using Siri. 

Ok so lets wrap this up, I feel the beats studio 3 are over priced at $350. Their sound quality is decent, battery life is average, and the noise cancellation needs improvement. But if youre heavily invested in the Apple eco system then the W1 chip makes life a little easier. Not to mention you get some pretty solid range and they almost never drop out. And I also have to admit, they look great. And they give you a lot of good looking color options to choose from. Cause I’m going to be frank, the Sony 1000XM2 and the Bose QC35 II don’t look as sleek as these. But I would only consider getting these if they were on sale. But if I had to pick a pair of head phones to work out in I would go with the Beats Studio 3. They just stay in place so well and the quick charging is perfect if you forget to charge your headphones before your workout. But heres my wish list for the Beats Studio 4 or what ever they call it. For sure keep the audio jack cause you need for that plan rides, throw in a lighting connecter or USB type C port. Improve the battery life to at least 30 hours with ANC on, add proximity sensors like on the AirPods so the head phones know when Im using them and either integrate touch controls like I said or add an extra button so I can talk to Siri or what ever voice assistant in a much more streamlined fashion like on the Bose QC35 II. But I want to hear from you, what would you like to see on the Beats Studio 4?