Apple is planning AirPods Lite release for later in 2024 amid waning demand for current models

Apple is planning AirPods Lite release for later in 2024 amid waning demand for current models
Despite including four different models still available around the world, Apple's industry-leading AirPods lineup has started to feel a little stale in recent months. That's in part due to stronger and stronger competition from brands like Samsung, Sony, Google, Jabra, Bose, and even Apple-owned Beats and perhaps in larger part because the only 2023 addition to the product family looks virtually identical to 2022's AirPods Pro 2.

But fret not, as multiple reliable insiders, generally well-informed analysts, and prolific leakers expect the AirPods portfolio to be expanded with as many as three new models in 2024. And mind you, we're talking about all-new products here with improved features and possibly even revised designs rather than just repackaged versions of existing earbuds with "modern" charging technologies supported.

Will the AirPods Lite finally get the green light this year?

One of these upgraded products could be called the AirPods Lite, likely replacing the ancient second-gen "regular" AirPods from 2019 as a new entry point for Apple's own-brand true wireless earbuds family. This still-mysterious product may or may not be one and the same as the curiously named "AirPods Pro Lite" that made a bunch of headlines in 2020 without ever commercially materializing.

This time around, a release seems pretty much etched in stone and relatively fast-approaching, at least according to the inside information gathered by analyst Jeff Pu and relayed to the public by 9To5Mac. Unfortunately, Pu doesn't have much else to share besides that aforementioned AirPods Lite moniker (which is probably not guaranteed just yet) and a vague target for a launch "sometime during the second half of 2024."

What the analyst claims to know is the reasoning behind the purported existence of this low-cost pair of earbuds. Apparently, Apple is facing "muted demand" for current models, thus looking towards a first-of-its-kind Lite device for an overall AirPods production boost later in the year.

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While the company's expectation is for both production and sales to grow once the AirPods Lite are finally released, total volumes could still shrink by 4 percent year-over-year in 2024 to 55 million units. That will undoubtedly be enough to keep Apple in the lead in global earbuds shipments for another year... before presumably doing the same in 2025 and beyond.

The AirPods 4 and AirPods Max 2 are (likely) in the pipeline as well

Despite its industry supremacy, the Cupertino-based tech giant is unlikely to be happy with that sales decline (if it comes to pass), possibly planning another addition to its wireless earbuds portfolio by the end of the year. This is expected to be the first-ever non-Pro AirPods variant equipped with active noise cancellation, and according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, it could bring a new design to the table with a greater focus on long-term comfort while naturally supporting USB-C charging.

It remains to be seen if this upper mid-range product will carry a straightforward AirPods 4 label or... something else entirely, and in terms of pricing, our best bet at the moment circles the $169 mark of the non-noise-cancelling AirPods 3.

The non-noise-cancelling AirPods Lite, meanwhile, could cost as little as $99 in a bid to better compete against the likes of Samsung's Galaxy Buds FE and Google's Pixel Buds A-Series.

Last but certainly not least, Apple is also expected (at least by some tipsters) to finally release a new AirPods Max edition in 2024. Unfortunately, this could greatly resemble 2020's first generation, merely replacing its predecessor's Lightning charging method with USB-C technology and slightly improving the already impressive overall audio quality. Of course, it's probably a tad early to know every possible upgrade and new feature of the AirPods Max 2, so let's wait and continue to hope for the best.

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