Apple AirPods 3 rumors have been swirling around the internet for a while now, with each day seeming to throw out another fresh report about Apple’s next-gen earbuds. Despite Apple not officially confirming the AirPods 3 yet, it has now announced that the next Apple Event will be on September 14th, so we're expecting to see them there.
Apple’s existing second-generation AirPods raised the bar for competing true wireless earbuds, building on the earlier successes of the first-generation Apple AirPods model for a more refined earbud with better battery life and sound. Apple isn’t one to rest on its laurels, though, with multiple reliable reports pointing to an upcoming redesign for the AirPods 3 arriving later this year.
Below is a round-up of everything we know so far, with the latest news about the AirPods 3 release date, price, specs and features.
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Apple AirPods 3 price
Apple's AirPods 2 ships at $149/£159/AU$249 ($199/£199/AU$319 with wireless charging case). Make no mistake, though: while it certainly isn't cheap, the more affordable version of the Apple AirPods is well and truly eclipsed by the AirPods Pro, which retails at $249/£249/AU$399. With this in mind, the next-gen AirPods are expected to be comfortably cheaper than the AirPods Pro, perhaps sitting more in line with the pricing of the second-gen AirPods.
We suspect, thanks to rumours, that Apple will introudce the new AirPods 3 at around the same as the existing models. We don't think the AirPods 2 will be removed from sale, which means they may get a price drop, perhaps to the more competitive $99/£99 range.
According to the Korean news outlet TheElec, the Apple AirPods 3 could arrive as the 'AirPods Pro Lite', with certain tech observers even claiming that the next-gen AirPods could be up to 20 percent cheaper than the AirPods Pro. All this dizzying talk of naming escapes the real nub of the story here: that of the possibility of Apple killing off the basic, wired-charging AirPods first launched in 2019, discounting the wireless-charging AirPods and introducing the new AirPods 3 to sit between the second-gen AirPods and the Airpods Pro.
Apple AirPods 3 release date
Despite significant talk of the AirPods 3 arriving at the Apple Spring Loaded event in April, no such thing came to pass. Instead, a slew of new products were unveiled, including the new Apple iMac 24-inch (2021), Apple AirTag location trackers and the Apple iPad Pro (2021). The reliable Apple analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, tips mass production of the AirPods 3 to kick off in the third quarter of 2021, so we definitely won't be seeing anything in the first half of this year.
Kuo's predictions are backed up by a paywalled DigiTimes report, which notes that multiple suppliers have already started shipping components for the Apple AirPods 3. According to the report, circuit board component shipments for the newest generation of AirPods, Apple Watch Series 7 and Apple iPhone 13 have already started to roll out. The latest Apple Watch and the new Apple iPhone have unconfirmed release dates of September 22 and September 12, respectively. News of the three devices' innards shipping alongside each other could hint that the next-gen wireless earbuds will also launch around this time.
Subsiquent rumours also point to the AirPods 3 launching along with the iPhone 13. That's a very logical conclusion to arrive at, so our best guess now is early September.
However, with the debunked rumors of the AirPods 3 launching at the Spring Loaded event and the multiple other conflicting reports that have surfaced around the AirPods 3 release date, any fresh news of a release date should be taken with caution.
Apple AirPods 3 design
The AirPods 3 are expected to undergo something of a design transformation. 52audio first showed off an alleged look at the next-gen AirPods, demonstrating a shorter-stemmed design, more akin to the AirPods Pro.
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who regularly comments on Apple's audio product suite, earlier tipped the shorter-stemmed next-gen AirPods and is a reliable source across all things Apple. The charging case, too, is expected to adopt a similar design, albeit slightly wider than the previous model. MacRumors notes that some leaks have shown tipless AirPods, sporting a charging case to fit tip-less earbuds.
What we're left with is a pretty congested mix of different leaked images and rumors. While different websites have thrown shade at alleged fake renders like, say, MacRumors calling out 52audio, the general consensus seems to be that the next-gen AirPods will lose the stems. And, despite the alleged inaccuracy of 52audio's late-February renders, Gizmochina did throw weight behind the images, saying that they allegedly originate directly from 'supplier.'