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Apple reportedly delaying new AirPods to 2021 due to coronavirus

Apple: New AirPods
  • Rumors surrounding new AirPods from Apple have been floating around for months, but a new report claims they will be delayed to 2021 due to the coronavirus.
  • Meanwhile, a leaker says that Apple has new AirPods “ready to ship” at any time.
  • Apple will produce AirPods in Vietnam for the first time this quarter.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced companies all around the world to adjust their plans, but Apple seems to have weathered the storm relatively well. Despite the rumored March event never coming to pass, Apple still launched a cheaper MacBook Air and a new iPad Pro with a LiDAR Scanner in March. A month later, the 2020 iPhone SE made its debut, and just this week, a highly-anticipated MacBook Pro upgrade was unveiled.

By all accounts, Apple has managed to stay on schedule for 2020 so far, but according to a new report from Nikkei Asian Review, that may not be the case for the rest of the year. The same sources that told Nikkei that Apple slashed its orders for AirPods by more than 10% earlier this year now say “the plan to introduce an update of the AirPods later this year is also currently affected and delayed by the disruptions of COVID-19.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard talk that Apple’s updated AirPods are in jeopardy of missing their original launch window. Back in March, a DigiTimes report suggested that a lack of demand might affect Apple’s decision to release new AirPods in 2020. Then in April, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note to investors that the third-generation AirPods would enter mass production in the first half of 2021 rather than this year:

The third-generation ‌AirPods‌ will go to mass production in the 1H21, and the most significant change of the internal design of this new model is the adoption of SiP to replace the rigid-flex PCB+SMT design of second-generation ‌AirPods‌. We believe that Apple will pull in this new model because of the declining demand for second-generation ‌AirPods‌. Luxshare ICT will be the main supplier for this new model.

Meanwhile, Front Page Tech’s Jon Prosser, who has spoiled the reveal of virtually every Apple product announced this year, says that there is an AirPods model “ready to ship,” though he couldn’t confirm any specifics about the new headphones. If this is the case, it seems unlikely that Apple would wait almost a full year to actually bring it to market, but perhaps a smaller refresh of the line is being planned ahead of a new model in 2021.

In related news, Nikkei Asian Review also reports that Apple is planning to produce millions of AirPods in Vietnam for the first time this quarter. Sources say that around 30% of standard AirPods production will take place in Vietnam in the coming months, though the majority of the devices will still be made in China.

“The mass production of AirPods in Vietnam started as early as in March,” a person familiar with the matter told Nikkei. “The Vietnamese officials even granted special permits for a key Apple AirPods assembler to help the company bring in engineers to the country for smooth production during lockdowns.”

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.