Apple is entering the sub $100 headphone market with the Beats Flex a USB-C charged device, the move comes as the iPhone maker removes headphones from the boxes of their new smartphones.
Removing the complementary headphones in the box is set to generate millions in additional revenue for Apple.
Also gone is 18W power adapter it has included with every iPhone — in an effort to reduce the size of the packaging for its new iPhone 12 handsets.
The smaller, accessory-free iPhone boxes will reduce shipping costs, which Apple needs to keep down as it includes more expensive 5G technology in all of its new phones.
Apple played the decision off as a move made with the environment in mind, noting during its keynote that there are more than 700 million pairs of its iconic white Lightning headphones in customers’ homes, as well as 2 billion charging bricks.
Beats Flex, like BeatsX, are not true-wireless in-ears, as there’s a neckband that connects the two earbuds. This hangs round your neck when you’re wearing them, when you take them out of your ears, they snap together magnetically. The neckband is made of a very lightweight, flexible material, Nitinol.
Gone is the proprietary Lightning port, Bloomberg claims that the new offering ‘pushes Apple into the more affordable part of the market, trading the prestige associated with a higher price for a wider audience’.
The earbuds are connected by a thin “Flex-Form” cable that rests behind your neck and connects wirelessly to your devices over Bluetooth. A sensor on the earbuds detects when they are in or our of your ears to automatically pause your content whenever they are removed.
With a full charge, now over USB-C instead of Lightning, Beats Flex will achieve 12 hours of use. The internals were optimized for better sound, as well as improved mic performance claims Apple.
Apple also uses its signature W1 wireless chip for strong connectivity and other Apple-specific features such as seamless pairing across all your Apple devices.
The launch comes as Apple moves away from including headphones in the box with new iPhones. The company has said this is beneficial to the environment, but it may also spur more sales of AirPods and Beats products.
Beats Flex features 12-hour battery life, magnetic auto play/pause and new acoustic drivers and upgraded microphones. The USB-C charging matches Apple’s move to the more common connector with its iPads and ensures users will be able to power up their Beats earphones with the same ubiquitous charger they’re likely to have for their laptop or Android device.
Apple is making the Beats Flex available to order immediately and will start shipping them in a choice of black or yellow on Oct. 21, with resellers getting stock in the latter half of November. The company recently stopped selling all third-party headphones and wireless speakers at its Apple stores in preparation for the launch of its own new audio products.