Is Apple working on AirPods 3 for next year?
Apple AirPods are in their second-generation just now, but AirPods 3 are on their way in a while, a new report says.
There’s no doubt that the tiny, white earbuds have been a major success for Apple, with sales demand frequently outrunning manufacturing capacity. Then, in October last year, Apple announced AirPods Pro, a new-design earbud with silicone ear tips and astonishing noise-canceling. You can read my review here.
When the Pro model came out, there were expectations that the $249 price might make AirPods Pro a niche purchase. If anything, it seems to have gone the other way, with familiar stories of shortages, especially before the holidays.
Now, according to reliably strong Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities, the third-generation of AirPods is expected, but not just yet. At first, he said that production would begin in the next few months but then corrected himself to say it was first-half 2021, not first-half 2020.
Maybe that’s not so surprising. The first AirPods went on sale at the end of 2016 and weren’t updated until Spring 2019, so mid-2021 may be a faster update than before. I think people’s expectations were sharpened because AirPods Pro appeared barely six months after AirPods 2, but that’s a whole different product.
Here’s a rundown of all the AirPods stuff we think we know about for the next year or more.
Apple’s AirPods second-generation
Here’s what Kuo said, as reported by MacRumors:
The third-generation AirPods will go to mass production in the 1H21, and the most significant change of the internal design of this new model is the adoption of SiP to replace the rigid-flex PCB+SMT design of second-generation AirPods. We believe that Apple will pull in this new model because of the declining demand for second-generation AirPods. Luxshare ICT will be the main supplier for this new model.
So, no major change to the design, presumably, as Kuo has focused on the internals. A new design for the tech inside may lead to better audio, longer performance or both.
Apple AirPods Pro.
AirPods Pro 2
Kuo had news about AirPods Pro 2, as well, saying that the next-generations top-end earbuds will go into production at the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022. Which is even further off, of course.
AirPods Pro Lite
And what about AirPods Pro Lite? This curious name has been floating around for a while now, but it seemed a preposterous moniker, surely a working title only? The latest suggestion is this product will be here in the next few months but is most likely to be a Beats model rather than Apple-branded, Kuo says.
There have been rumors recently of over-ear headphones from Apple (more details here). Bloomberg reported that high-end headphones with cool design and parts held in place magnetically so they can be swapped out easily and these should be with us later this year.
Anything sooner than that?
Rising leaker Jon Prosser of Front Page Tech has tweeted recently that new AirPods of some kind were due to be announced at the Apple event which never took place last month, but are ready to drop in the next month, so there may be another surprise about to appear. Stay tuned.
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