After more than two years, Apple is finally gearing up to launch an upgraded version of the entry-level AirPods, according to a new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. Sources with knowledge of Apple’s plans tell Gurman that the third-generation AirPods will look similar to the first-generation AirPods Pro, with shorter stems and a new charging case to better suit the new design. This report lines up with the many recent leaks and rumors.
In addition to revamping the standard AirPods, Apple is also readying its second-generation AirPods Pro, but they won’t be available until 2022. Much like their cheaper counterparts, the AirPods Pro are expected to receive a refresh as well, eliminating the stem altogether for a more compact design. The sources also claim that the second-gen AirPods Pro “will include updated motion sensors with a focus on fitness tracking.” Save for the release date, this corroborates past rumors as well.
Earlier this year, the rumor mill seemed to be pointing to Apple’s spring event as a likely landing spot for at least one of the new AirPods, but the April 20th event came and went without a single mention of Apple’s flagship wireless earbuds. Gurman notes in his report that Apple had initially planned to launch the AirPods Pro 2 as early as this year, but those plans obviously didn’t pan out.
Apple removing the stem from the next-gen AirPods Pro would follow the industry trend, as Google’s Pixel Buds, Amazon’s Echo Buds, and Microsoft’s Surface Earbuds have all done away with any of the extraneous stems or ear wraps. The goal seems to be to make the earbud all but invisible to a third-party observer, and thus the new AirPods Pro will be the smallest yet.
We have seemingly been getting previews of the AirPods Pro’s new design in recent weeks in the form of Beats Studio Buds leaks. While data-mining the iOS 14.6 and tvOS 14.6 betas, MacRumors discovered animations of an unannounced pair of Beats earbuds that were being referred to in the code as Beats Studio Buds. The earbuds are the first from Beats to lack an ear wrap, and thus fit entirely within the ear. The design will be different, but this will be the general shape and size of the next AirPods Pro generation, according to all of the leaks, rumors, and reports so far.
According to Gurman, Apple is preparing to announce Beats Studio Buds next month, which comes as no surprise after Lakers superstar LeBron James was photographed wearing the earbuds.
Finally, while there aren’t any plans right now to refresh the $549 AirPods Max any time soon, Gurman notes that Apple has just recently caught up with demand for the premium over-ear headphones and has “discussed launching additional color variations in the future.”