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Why new Beats wireless headphones are key to iPhone 7 launch plan
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Why new Beats wireless headphones are key to iPhone 7 launch plan

by Stephen Charlton2016/09/09

Beats revealed a new line-up of wireless headphones at the iPhone 7 launch earlier this week. The new models are the Solo 3 Wireless, Powerbeats3 and BeatsX. All three are powered by Apple’s W1, which is a new Bluetooth wireless communications chip. So why did Apple so “courageously” move to cut out the headphone jack from the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus? Well as the parent company of Beats, Apple has the most to benefit from the move to a bold new wireless world.

iPhone 7 launch is a $5 billion revenue opportunity for Beats

The iPhone may not have the market share it once had, but the industry watches Apple like a hawk. The shift from the 3.5mm headphone jack to the Lightning jack was a big move and it will have ramifications throughout the industry. SeekingAlpha.com estimates that 20% of iPhone 7 buyers will also buy one of the new Wireless Beats models. This results in a $5 billion revenue opportunity for Beats. Due to the dramatically increased battery life of the new models, it won’t be such a hassle to use them either.

Apple iPhone 7 iPhone 7 plus audio

Apple iPhone 7 & Plus Version

Single Lightning jack design pushes users to wireless

Apple only included a single Lightning jack on the iPhone 7. As a result, charging your device and listening to wired headphones at the same time is not possible. At first glance the sole Lightning jack may seem like a cost-saving measure. However, it’s likely the decision was intended to accelerate the move to wireless headphones.

The problem is that wireless technology cannot currently match the fidelity of wired headphones. So audiophiles will be stuck with the dilemma mentioned above if they want to get the best results out of their headphones. I don’t know about you but I generally only use portable headphones out of the house anyway.

The move to a digital solution (Lightning and wireless) does have a number of advantages over analog technology. Most notably it presents the opportunity to bypass smartphone headphone power amplifiers and integrate them directly into headphones.

New Beats line-up: Solo 3 Wireless arrives

So what is Beats offering in the new line-up? The Beats Solo 3 Wireless follows up on the well-received Solo 2. The older model only offered 12 hours of operation. The Solo 3 provides 40 hours of battery life due to the efficient W1 chip. It can provide three hours of playback from a five minute charge via the included microUSB cable. Apple have kept a very similar aesthetic to the older design. The Solo 3 Wireless will set you back $299.95 and is in US stores now.

Lightweight BeatsX designed for on-the-go use

The BeatsX is a new line of earphones designed for iOS and Android devices. They provide eight hours of operation off a 45-minute charge and 2 hours off a five-minute charge. If you don’t like the wire-free design of the new Apple Airpods, you’ll be relieved that the BeatsX comes with a connecting cable. The magnetic earbuds keep them tangle free when not in your ears. The BeatsX will be out this autumn for $149.95.

Powerbeats 3 wireless targets fitness fans

The Powerbeats 3 wireless offer even longer battery life, with 12 hours of playback. An hour of playback is possible from a five minute charge. The sweat/water resistant build and earhook design will make them popular with the fitness crowd. Some users found the Powerbeats 2 Wireless weren’t actually sweatproof despite being marketed as such. The Powerbeats 3 will set you back $199.95 so hopefully they’ve rectified this issue. The new Apple Watch 2 is all about fitness so this will be an important point. The Powerbeats 3 wireless will be available this autumn.

 

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About The Author
Stephen Charlton

Stephen Charlton is a musician, journalist and editor.

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