Apple to launch AirPods 3 in early 2021 with AirPods Pro-like design

Apple to launch AirPods 3 in early 2021 with AirPods Pro-like design
Apple has experienced massive success with the AirPods line of wireless earphones in recent years and, although there are plans for several new products, the company is not forgetting about where it all began anytime soon.

AirPods 3: A design inspired by AirPods Pro

Trustworthy analyst Ming-Chi Kuo revealed in April that Apple is working on an updated version of the standard AirPods for release next year. Today, Kuo reiterated those claims and provided some more information.

The AirPods in question, which are currently being referred to as AirPods 3 or AirPods (third-generation), will reportedly be made available to purchase in the first half of 2021, around two years after the existing pair were introduced.

That timeline means the official announcement could happen in March 2021 at the annual event or in June 2021 at WWDC alongside updates to iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and any other hardware products that may be in the pipeline.

There is still no word on the features or internal hardware but Ming-Chi Kuo has today teased an updated design inspired by the AirPods Pro earphones that were introduced in October 2019.

The latter features an in-ear design with flexible silicone tips for active noise cancellation and shorter stems. Considering the noise cancellation feature is likely to be reserved for buyers of the Pro model, it seems unlikely the in-ear design will be adopted by the standard AirPods.

Instead, AirPods 3 could offer the existing tip design paired with shorter stems and some internal upgrades such as a new audio chip. That should boost interest in the product and may even lead to a wave of upgrades from users of the first and second-gen AirPods.

AirPods Pro 2 are expected to follow in late 2021

Accompanying AirPods 3 in the second half of 2021 will be AirPods Pro 2. These wireless earphones probably won’t benefit from any major design changes and are instead expected to focus on internal upgrades only.

Nevertheless, the introduction of a refreshed pair is likely to boost demand and help Apple sustain impressive levels of growth for the foreseeable future. The latter will, of course, be helped by AirPods Studio and AirPods X.

AirPods Studio were originally intended to make their international debut later today at WWDC 2020 as the first Apple-branded over-ear headphones. Unfortunately, the company has reportedly shelved plans for all hardware.

The headphones are now expected to arrive later this year alongside the iPhone 12 series and AirPods X. Tipster Jon Prosser claims the latter are inspired by BeatsX and will focus on runners and fitness.

Don't expect headphones inside iPhone 12 boxes

Solidifying the dedication to AirPods moving forward will be the removal of wired EarPods from iPhone boxes this year. Ming-Chi Kuo first mentioned the possibility a month ago and now appears more certain that it will happen.

The new strategy, which will coincide with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro launch, is expected to boost AirPods sales next year. It could also provide a decent bump towards the end of this year following the iPhone 12 release.

Apple is reportedly planning some kind of promotion that should increase AirPods demand. But whether that involves a discount for iPhone 12 buyers, bundle promotions, or an AirPods upgrade program remains to be seen.

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