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New AirPods leaked, but coronavirus might delay Apple’s release

Published Mar 16th, 2020 3:07PM EDT
AirPods Pro Lite
Image: Fadhli Adnan/Shutterstock

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  • Apple’s AirPods might soon be refreshed, a new report out of Taiwan says, although the coronavirus pandemic might impact the product’s launch.
  • It’s unclear what kind of new AirPods Apple is getting ready to launch. Previous reports referred to the upcoming version as the “AirPods Pro Lite,” suggesting a cheaper price tag for the brand new pair of AirPods with active noise cancelling.
  • Pricing and availability details for the rumored new AirPods haven’t leaked yet, and Apple continues to sell three AirPods versions in stores right now.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

Apple may have closed all its retail shops outside China, canceled the rumored March press event, and transformed WWDC 2020 into an online-only event, but the company is still expected to unveil new products this month. Powerbeats 4 are now official at $149, marking Apple’s first new release of the month. Apple is also expected to quietly announce a new iPad Pro generation, new MacBooks, as well as new AirPods. Plenty of reports said earlier this year that Apple would soon launch a so-called “AirPods Pro Lite” version of its popular wireless earphones, without providing specifics about the Lite model. Now, a new rumor says that suppliers might be ready to manufacture the brand new AirPods, but the COVID-19 outbreak might affect sales.

A Digitimes report (via MacRumors) says that parts suppliers are more worried about the novel coronavirus pandemic affecting demand than they are about the supply chain. The report doesn’t mention the name of the new AirPods product, referring to it only as the “upcoming AirPods series.” Currently, Apple sells three distinct AirPods models, starting at $159 (AirPods) and going up to $249 (AirPods Pro).

The regular AirPods come in two options when it comes to case type, including wired charging and wireless charging. Then there’s the AirPods Pro with a new design as well as additional features, including active noise cancellation support. At first glance, it would seem that the AirPods Pro Lite would have no place in this lineup unless they displace the $199 AirPods with wireless charging case. That’s just speculation, however.

Apple did surprise fans with the new Powerbeats 4 earphones, which retail for $50 less than the Powerbeats 3 model but offer better specs, including an extra three hours of battery life and a “Pro” design. The AirPods Pro Lite might be positioned along those lines.

Coronavirus or not, it’s no secret that the AirPods are Apple’s best new product in years, and they’re always in high demand. Everyone in the industry has followed Apple’s lead, and there are plenty of AirPods alternatives out there, with nearly every smartphone vendor producing AirPods-like earphones. Launching an even cheaper AirPods version would make plenty of sense for Apple.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.