Apple AirPods Studio headphones' controversial price and name leak

Apple's new over-the-ear headphones could end up taking on its own flagship Beats product directly, with the much-rumored accessories starting up a battle of the brands in 2020. Expected to feature active noise cancellation, the new headphones could be branded the AirPods Studio according to the latest leaks.

Chatter around the headphones back in April tipped an unusual design for Apple. The company was said to have been developing a modular construction for the over-ear headphones, which would allow owners to customize them after purchase.

For example, there'd be the option to swap out the ear pads and the headband padding. These would cling magnetically to the headphones, it's suggested, permitting both different styles as well as finishes more suited for fashion or to exercise. We've seen Apple do something similar to that with the Apple Watch bands.

One of the big questions was how Apple would name the new over-ear headphones. According to leaker Jon Prosser, who has had a string of recent successes with Apple news, it'll be a likely-controversial expansion of the AirPods brand. The headphones will be the Apple AirPods Studio, he claims, codenamed B515.

Prosser also has a price tag for the headphones, which will apparently come in at $349.

Are you a Beats fan or an Apple fan?

That price point – and indeed the name – is shared by the current Beats flagship headphones, of course. The $349.95 Beats Studio3 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones sound, on paper at least, a lot like what these AirPods Studio headphones are shaping up to be.

There'll be more than just Apple and Beats headphones on most potential buyers' shortlist, of course. The AirPods Studio will go up against options like the next-generation Sony ANC headphones, expected to be the WH-1000XM4, along with alternatives from Bose and the new Microsoft Surface Headphones 2. Still, having such a direct rival to its own Beats products is notable.

The technology inside the AirPods Studio will be more advanced than what's in the Beats Studio3, mind. According to previous rumors, Apple will use its latest custom Bluetooth and ANC chipset – as powers the AirPods Pro – for the over-ear headphones. That'll mean quick-pairing with iOS devices, together with touch controls for the essential features.

When Apple will actually launch the AirPods Studio headphones remains to be seen. Earlier chatter suggested a late 2020 unveil, though with the proviso that at least two earlier launches had been scrapped. One possibility is that they could be revealed at WWDC 2020, the online-only developer event taking place in mid-June.