Beats Studio Buds+ vs Beats Studio Buds: What’s the difference?

  • Beats/Pocket-lint

    Beats Studio Buds+

    The Beats Studio Buds+ are a fun, energetic listen that offer improved noise cancellation, better sound quality, a comfier fit and longer battery life. There’s only $20 between them too, which makes these feel like even more of a great deal.

    Pros

    • Fun, energetic sound
    • Good noise cancellation
    • Improved battery life
    Cons

    • Treble could be more refined
    • No wireless charging
    • No wear sensor

  • Beats Studio Buds tag-1

    Beats/Pocket-lint

    Beats Studio Buds

    The Beats Studio Buds are still a great pair of headphones, but their features and capabilities are looking a little long in the tooth compared with the competition. If you find them on discount, they’re still well worth a look.

    Pros

    • Decent sound
    • Universal compatibility
    • Comfortable fit
    Cons

    • Slightly harsh treble
    • Weak noise cancellation
    • No wireless charging

The Beats Studio Buds+ are an updated version of 2021’s original Beats Studio Buds – true wireless in-ear headphones that, at launch, offered a good amount of features at a very affordable price.


Two years on, they’re starting to look a little less competitive, so Beats announced the Beats Studio Buds+, which offer improvements across the board for only a very small uplift in price.

How do the original Studio Buds fare against the newest additions, and if you own the originals, should you be considering an upgrade to the “Plus”? Here are all the differences that you need to know about.


Price, specs & availability

Beat Studio Buds were released on June 24, 2021 and remain on sale with an RRP of $149.99/£159.99, but can often be found on sale for much cheaper. Around Amazon Prime Day, I found them around the $90 mark so do keep your eyes peeled in those big sales periods.

Beats Studio Buds+ were released on May 17, 2023, and will set you back $169.99/£179.99. You can find the specs below, but for more in depth insight as to how they compare, keep reading.

  • Beats Studio Buds+ Beats Studio Buds
    Brand Beats Beats
    Battery Life 6 hours/9 hours (ANC on/off), 36 hours total 5 hours/8 hours (ANC on/off), 24 hours total
    Noise Cancellation Yes Yes
    IP rating IPX4 IPX4
    Weight (earbuds) 5g 5g
    Dimensions (earbuds) 15.6 x 21.6 x 19.8mm 15 x 20.5 x 18.5mm
    Waterproof Yes Yes
    Charging USB-C USB-C
    Price $169.99/£179.99 $149.99/£159.99
    Color Ivory, Black, Transparent Black, White, Red, Ocean Blue, Moon Grey, Sunset Pink
    Chip Beats proprietary platform (Gen 2) Beats proprietary platform (Gen 1)
    Spatial Audio Yes Yes
    Special features 4 included eartips 3 included eartips

Design

Beats Studio Buds+

There is very little difference in the design of the Beats Studio Buds+ compared with the original Studio Buds, and there are mere millimetres difference in their quoted dimensions – both for the buds themselves and the case.

The Studio Buds+ measure 15.6 x 21.6 x 19.8mm, with case dimensions of 51.5 x 73mm x 25.6mm – the original Studio Buds measure 15 x 20.5 x 18.5mm with a case that’s 51 x 72 x 25.5mm. Each earbud weighs the same, at 5g each, and overall the weight of the buds docked in the case is almost identical – 59g vs 58g.

There are some very subtle differences to the shape of the casing though, for better fit, and the newer Studio Buds+ also come with an extra ear tip to improve the fitting for smaller ears. We found them to be more comfortable to wear for long periods, and they also felt very subtly more secure too.

The “b” control button remains the same on both, though we did find the Studio Buds+’s button to be more clearly clicky, meaning you were more sure that your commands had been registered.

Perhaps one of the main differences in design is the available colours that they are available in. At launch, the Studio Buds+ are offering ivory, black and gold and transparent, whereas you can get the original Buds in a choice of six colours – Black, Ocean Blue. Moon Grey, Beats Red, White and Sunset Pink.

Hardware

Beats Studio Buds review photo 1
Pocket-lint

On paper, the features that the two buds are capable of might look very similar. However, there have been some pretty sizeable improvements across the board.

Beats reckons that it has redesigned 95 per cent of the internals, with a completely new acoustic architecture and venting system that promotes improved airflow. This helps to get more air to the new, custom-built transducer to help for a cleaner bass response, plus helps to improve air release too, removing pressure from the ear during playback.

The result, as we found, was more comfortable longer listens in the Beats Studio Buds+. We happily had these buds in all day during testing, and sometimes forgot we did.

Compatibility

Beats Studio Buds+

Both buds do a great job of serving up Android and Apple customers with a largely similar experience.

Crucially, both offer one-touch pairing, with Google Fast Pair supported for Android users, and iCloud pairing for Apple users. This ties them to your Google and iCloud accounts for quick pairing with other devices you own, plus you can see battery and ANC details natively within your phone settings menu.

You can also use Find My on iOS and Find My Device on Android to locate lost buds, and receive over-the-air firmware updates – though Android users need to download the Beats app for this – for iOS users, it happens automatically.

Noise cancellation and call quality

Beats Studio Buds review photo 8
Pocket-lint

All three of the in-built mics in the Studio Buds+ are three times larger than those in the original Studio Buds, to help improve call quality and noise cancelling, with improved sensitivity and higher signal-to-noise ratio. The stats suggest noise cancelling is 1.6x better and transparency is 2x as good as in the Beats Studio Buds.

While we have no way of measuring that, we certainly felt the noise cancelling had taken things up a notch during the testing of the Beats Studio Buds+, coming much closer in performance to the AirPods Pro 2 that the previous version had managed.

Noise cancelling remains a largely one-size-fits-all approach though, in that there is no tweaking the levels outside of activating transparency mode on either model. However, the ANC does feature Adaptive Fit in the Studio Buds+, and will adapt its performance based on how it is sitting in the ear at any given time.

Battery life

Beats Studio Buds+

Battery life is considerably better on the Beats Studio Buds+ compared with the Beats Studio Buds. In fact, there’s a 50 per cent boost in the battery life of the case and 16 per cent boost in the earbuds themselves.

That equates to a rise from five hours to six hours of playback with ANC on, or from eight hours to nine hours with ANC off. You’ll get three full charges in the case after that too, making the jump from 24 hours in the Studio Buds to 36 hours in the Studio Buds+ in total.

Beats Studio Buds+ vs Beats Studio Buds: Which is the best?

The clear winner between the two is the Studio Buds+, which brings better battery life, better noise cancelling and an improved audio performance, all alongside a more comfortable fit. Even better, they’re available for only $20/£20 more than the original Studio Buds are available for.

Beats Studio Buds+

Beats/Pocket-lint

Beats Studio Buds+

Editor’s Choice

The Beats Studio Buds+ deliver some great improvements on their predecessors, offering fantastic value for both Android and Apple users alike.

The original Beats Studio Buds are still great headphones if you can find them on a discount – but that’s really the only way to recommend them now their successors exist. Keep an eye out for offers and snap them up if you see them, just expect lighter noise cancelling and a slightly shorter battery life.

Beats Studio Buds main

Beats/Pocket-lint

Beats Studio Buds

Good alternative

If you can find these on offer, then they could be well worthy of consideration.

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