Latest Apple report says AirPods 3 & AirPods Pro 2 coming in 2021, AirPods X might be Beats

Latest Apple report says AirPods 3 & AirPods Pro 2 coming in 2021, AirPods X might be Beats
Apple is preparing to revamp and expand its popular lineup of wireless earphones over the coming years. Rumors and reports have been flying around recently and today Ming-Chi Kuo has clarified quite a few things.

Apple StudioPods over-ear headphones

The popular analyst made no mention in his report of the so-called AirPods Lite that have been rumored in recent days for a launch next month, but he did reiterate plans to unveil a pair of over-ear headphones soon.

Kuo expects the new product, which may be branded as Apple StudioPods, to enter mass production sometime this summer. That makes an announcement at WWDC in early June, as predicted by Jon Prosser, and a release several months later very likely.

As reported by Bloomberg last week, Ming-Chi Kuo says the upcoming over-ear headphones will feature swappable magnetic parts. Apple is understood to be developing two variants of StudioPods – premium and fitness – that support an Apple Watch-like customization process.

No pricing information was provided today, but earlier reports pointed towards a $350 price tag. That would position StudioPods as direct competitors to certain Bose and Sony wireless headphones.

Apple AirPods X

Tipster Jon Prosser said earlier this month that Apple is developing a pair of fitness-focused AirPods dubbed AirPods X. These are expected to offer AirPods Pro-like noise cancellation in a Beats X-like design, meaning there will be a connecting cord between earbuds.
A $200 price and a September/October launch timeframe were tipped, but Ming-Chi Kuo expressed some doubt about the veracity of these reports. He says the product, which is referred to as 'AirPods Pro Lite' in his report, is “more likely to be” Beats-branded.

If true, that would suggest Apple is planning a premium alternative to the current-gen Beats X which retail at only $99 in the United States.

AirPods 3

Moving on to 2021, Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple will kick the year off by introducing a pair of third-generation AirPods. The existing AirPods were introduced in March 2019 and should be ready for an upgrade by then.

The analyst sees mass production commencing during the first half of 2021 but doesn’t believe any major design changes will be introduced. AirPods 3 will apparently pair the existing AirPods design with an updated production process that resembles that of AirPods Pro.

Although not mentioned, Apple will presumably introduce a range of upgrades to keep customers interested. The most likely one is a new audio chip designed to replace the Apple H1 that was introduced with AirPods 2.

Earlier reports have revealed Apple is also been testing a range of health features for AirPods internally. Whether these make it into AirPods 3 remains to be seen.

Apple AirPods Pro 2

AirPods Pro arrived last October with a new in-ear design and noise cancellation; two features not seen on the AirPods lineup before. Despite being only six months old, though, Apple is already planning a second-generation.

Ming-Chi Kuo says in his investor note today that mass production will start in either late 2021 or early 2022. That means the announcement could potentially happen in late October 2021, two years after the originals debuted, or perhaps at the annual March event in 2022. 

There is no word on what changes are planned, but any chip updates will likely be previewed on the third-gen AirPods mentioned above.

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