Apple Inc. is developing over-ear wireless headphones with parts that can be swapped in and out, seeking to augment its AirPods business with a high-end audio product, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Cupertino, California-based tech giant is working on at least two variations, including a premium version with leather-like fabrics and a fitness-focused model that uses lighter, breathable materials with small perforations, the people said.
Prototypes of the headphones have a retro look with oval-shaped ear cups that swivel and a headband connected by thin, metal arms. The arms stem from the top of the ear cups rather than the sides, the people added. They asked not to be identified discussing products that haven’t been announced.
The ear pads and headband padding attach to the frame of the headphones magnetically so they can be replaced by the user. That approach is similar to some headphones from Master & Dynamic and Bowers & Wilkins, though those models only have magnetic ear pads.
Apple’s more modular design will allow users to customize their headphones like they do with the Apple Watch. The design may also mean the same set of headphones would be convertible from comfort to fitness use and back again, the people said.
Apple plans to use similar wireless-pairing and noise-cancellation tech in its upcoming headphones to what is already in the AirPods Pro. The new headphones will use Siri for voice control and have a limited set of integrated touch controls. The product will compete with high-end offerings from Bose Corp., Sennheiser Electronic and Sony Corp., which currently retail around $350.