Apple AirPods Pro Lite production to start, iPhone 9 prototypes tested, new patent application filed
Apple's Wearables unit is currently the fastest growing segment of the company. Over the last two fiscal quarters, revenue growth for this division has weighed in at 54% and 37%. Strong performance from this part of Apple's business should not be surprising considering that it includes the Apple Watch (the most popular watch in the world) and the wireless Bluetooth AirPods.
Apple offers its regular AirPods with a standard charging case for $159 (for $199 you can get a wireless charging case instead). The accessory is equipped with the H1 chip that offers "always-on Siri." Harder to find (even before the spread of the coronavirus) is the premium AirPods Pro model. For $249, the "Pro" version of the earbuds comes with a wireless charging case, active noise cancellation, a customizable fit and resistance to sweat and water.
AirPods Pro Lite production to start soon according to supply chain rumors
about a product that Apple is reportedly working on called the AirPods Pro Lite. Offering such a product would seem to be bewildering for Apple considering that it does offer two distinct variants of the device. One possibility is that Apple will replace the regular AirPods with the AirPods Pro Lite. Or perhaps there is enough of a gap between the $159 starting price of the Air Pods and the $249 AirPods Pro for a cheaper version of the latter that will include some form of active noise cancellation.Last month, we passed along an interesting rumor
Render of the iPhone 9
A new report published today by Digitimes (via AppleInsider) states that production of the AirPods Pro Lite (doesn't exactly roll off of your tongue, does it?) "is expected to kick off between the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second quarter." This information comes from employees who work for companies that make up part of Apple's supply chain. Keep in mind that even if production of the new AirPods does take place exactly when the supply chain sources say it will, it doesn't mean that Apple will release the product right away. Considering that the coronavirus has left Apple unable to run its assembly lines at full speed, the company might want to wait to build up some inventory of the product first.
Meanwhile, Digitimes also reports that the entry-level iPhone 9/iPhone SE2 handset, expected to be unveiled at the end of this month, has entered the final stage of engineering validation as prototypes roll off assembly lines at Foxconn and Pegatron facilities in Zhengzhou, China. These tests are conducted on first engineering prototypes to make sure that they meet specifications and performance goals.
The iPhone 9/iPhone SE2 will look like an iPhone 8 model down to the 4.7-inch LCD display. The same A13 Bionic chipset that powers the 2019 iPhone models will drive the iPhone 9 and a 50% hike in memory (to 3GB of RAM) is expected. Pricing for the device could start at $399 for the variant with 64GB of storage.
Illustration from Apple's patent showing how a keyboard accessory could connect to an iPad through the tablet's display
Lastly, Apple has filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) titled Remote Capacitive Interface. Based on the technology discussed in the application, iPad users could connect a Smart Keyboard through the display instead of a Smart Connector or via a Bluetooth connection. An illustration included with the patent application shows that an iPad could turn on its side and slide into a dock that is part of the keyboard accessory. Sliding the device into this dock would use physical switches and contacts to sync the keyboard with the tablet. Therefore, the accessory does not require a source of power to make it work. Apple's Smart Keyboards currently require that the user plug the accessory into the tablet's Smart Connector to sync with the tablet.