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Big leak might’ve revealed when Apple plans to release AirPods 3

Published Mar 26th, 2021 8:19PM EDT
AirPods 3 Release
Image: Apple/Amazon

All signs are pointing towards Apple releasing AirPods 3 sometime during the third quarter of the year, according to a new report from Digitimes. More than likely, Apple will unveil its next-gen AirPods at a special event in April before it hits stores sometime in late spring or early summer.

Apple last updated its entry-level AirPods line in March of 2019, so the timeline for a refresh certainly makes sense. As for what we can expect from the third iteration of Apple’s popular earbuds, reports indicate that AirPods 3 will borrow a few design elements from AirPods Pro insofar that it will boast a more compact design with a shorter stem.

Additionally, AirPods 3 will reportedly include improved sound performance, improved water and sweat resistance, and a selection of three ear tips for improved comfort. AirPods 3 may also feature improved battery life and a brand new wireless chip. Active noise cancellation, however, will remain a feature exclusive to the AirPods Pro line.

Incidentally, rumor has it that Apple was initially going to release AirPods 3 in late 2020, only to push back the release date due to various delays that arose in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Late last month, purported pictures of AirPods 3 began circulating online. The pictures depict a design that closely resembles Apple’s AirPods Pro, all the way down to a more compact charging case.

Image source: 52Audio

Aside from AirPods 3, rumor has it that Apple will also introduce AirPods Pro 2 later this year. Apple’s next-gen AirPods Pro earbuds will reportedly feature a more compact form factor, with Bloomberg late last year suggesting that Apple might do away with the current stem design entirely.

For the new AirPods Pro, Apple is aiming to make the earbuds more compact by eliminating the short stem that currently sticks out from the bottom. A design in testing has a more rounded shape that fills more of a user’s ear — similar to the latest designs from Samsung, Amazon and Google.

Integrating noise-cancellation, wireless antennas and microphones into a smaller AirPods Pro casing has proved challenging during development, which could result in a less ambitious design when the product is finalized, the people said. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

Subsequent reports have suggested that while an AirPods Pro redesign is in the works, we may not see it until the third AirPods Pro iteration arrives sometime in the next few years.

Meanwhile, rumor also has it that Apple may hold a special media event sometime in April where the company is expected to unveil brand new iPad models and the long-awaited AirTags. If an April event is truly in the works, it would only make sense for Apple to introduce its new AirPods products as well.

As a final point, and if history is any indication, both AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2 will likely fly off the shelves when they finally become available for purchase. Though AirPods were widely mocked upon their introduction, they’ve since become incredibly popular. In fact, every time Apple introduces a new AirPods model, supply is often constrained for weeks at a time.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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