iOS 16.4 RC references unreleased AirPods, Beats Studio Buds+


AirPods 3 with Funko
Is Apple silently working on an AirPods refresh?
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Apple’s RC build of iOS 16.4 references an unreleased AirPods with the model number A3048. There’s also mention of a new AirPods charging case carrying the model number A2968.

In addition, Apple seems to be working on a new pair of Beats Studio Buds, dubbed the Buds+.

AirPods refresh around the corner?

Apple launched the second-generation AirPods Pro in September 2022 alongside the iPhone 14 series. The AirPods 3 launched a year before that, in October 2021. There are currently no rumors of the company working on a new AirPods refresh. So it is unclear which models the iOS 16.4 code refers to.

Apple may be working on an iterative AirPods update with a USB-C connector for charging instead of Lightning. With the upcoming iPhone 15 lineup, Apple could ditch the Lightning connector in favor of USB-C. This is primarily due to an EU mandate that regulates all smartphones to use USB-C for charging and data transfer.

This move will force Apple to update all its accessories with USB-C instead of Lightning.

Beats Studio Buds+ incoming

Besides the mysterious AirPods model, iOS 16.4 RC contains mentions of Beats Studio Buds+ earphones with the model number A2871. They will seemingly be an upgrade over the original Beats Studio Buds that debuted in 2021.

9to5Mac sources claim the earbuds will use a custom Beats chip instead of the H1/H2 chip found inside AirPods. Despite this, they should support always-on “Hey Siri,” automatic device switching, and audio sharing. All these features are not present on the original Beats Studio Buds.

It is unclear when Apple intends to launch the Beats Studio Buds+. Given that mentions of the earbuds were found in iOS 16.4 RC, it could launch alongside the OS’s public release next week, possibly on March 28. This is also the day on which Apple Music Classical debuts, so launching a new pair of earbuds to go along with it makes sense.


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