Several recent reports have said that Apple plans to refresh its AirPods and AirPods Pro earphones with new models this year, often referred to as AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2. But AirPods rumors haven’t always been in sync. Some indicated that the launch was imminent, like the stories that showed images of AirPods 3 knock-offs found in China. Those fake AirPods 3 looked exactly like the descriptions we’ve seen in rumors and leaks — Apple will supposedly use the AirPods Pro design for its new entry-level AirPods model. But other reports said that the AirPods 3 might take longer to hit stores.
Now, a new supply chain leak from Asia indicates that some of the component makers known to deliver parts for various Apple products have started manufacturing new parts for Apple’s upcoming AirPods 3.
The new leak comes from the usual source of supply chain reports from Asia, Digitimes, which is closely connected to Apple’s supplier. The tech blog isn’t always accurate with its reports, but it produces plenty of stories that do deliver accurate insights into Apple’s product launch plans for the year.
“Suppliers including Semco, LG Innotek, Kinsus, Unimicron, Nan Ya, Zhen Ding, and AT&S have all kicked off their BT substrate shipments for Apple’s next-generation products, including the Apple Watch, AirPods and iPhone, which all adopt SiP modules,” Digitimes said.
The report doesn’t offer more specific info on the new AirPods models, and Apple is obviously expected to refresh all the products mentioned in that quote. The iPhone 13 series should launch in September alongside the Apple Watch Series 7. The AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2 also seem like guaranteed product refreshes, considering the various rumors we’ve heard so far this year.
This news from Digitimes could be an indication that Apple’s new AirPods models will launch at the same time as the other products mentioned in the report, which would mean both a launch and a release in September. A recent report said that Apple’s new iPhone 13 and other new products will be released on September 24th this year, which is an obvious choice since it’s exactly in line with Apple’s typical release timing every year.
Apple’s AirPods 3 are expected to feature the same design as the current-generation AirPods Pro, including the smaller stem and larger charging case. But they won’t support active noise cancelation like the Pro model. AirPods Pro 2 are supposed to lose the stem completely, with some reports saying they’ll be similar to the recently launched Beats Studio Buds. The new AirPods Pro 2 are also expected to receive updated motion sensors that will make fitness tracking possible. Apple hinted a few days ago that it might use AirPods in combination with Apple Watch and iPhone for advanced health tracking features. These differences should allow Apple to continue to sell the new AirPods at its current price points. The AirPods Pro 2 will be the more expensive offering of the two, although pricing details have not leaked.
It’s unclear at this time whether any of the existing AirPods models will remain in the lineup after Apple launches the next-gen products. The current lineup includes the $159 AirPods with wired charging case, $199 AirPods with wireless charging case, and $249 AirPods Pro. They’re often discounted online, with Amazon’s Prime Day sale having offered great AirPods deals earlier this week. All of Apple’s AirPods models were still discounted on Amazon at the time of this writing.