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iPhone 12 might not ship with EarPods in the box, top insider says

Published May 20th, 2020 6:50AM EDT

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  • The iPhone 12 might be the first new iPhone series to ship without EarPods earphones in the box.
  • An analyst with an excellent track record says that Apple is looking to drive up demand for AirPods with the move.
  • Apple is expected to run some sort of AirPods promotion in the second half of the year that would further drive up demand, although no iPhone 12 or AirPods prices are offered in the report.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

The novel coronavirus health crisis might delay the iPhone 12 launch, several reports have said. Travel bans prevented Apple engineers from traveling to China in the past few months, which could delay the manufacturing of the handset. A recent rumor detailing Apple’s AR glasses plans tells us that the iPhone 12 announcement event could take place in October rather than September, which would be a first for the iPhone. Apple supposedly plans to reveal Apple Glass at the end of the show but would like an in-person audience to do it. A new rumor now details another unexpected plan for the iPhone 12. Apple supposedly wants to ditch the EarPods, which would be another first for the iPhone.

All iPhones launched to date ship with free EarPods in the box. Until the iPhone 7, these were EarPods with 3.5mm headphone jacks. Then Apple removed the port, and EarPods got Lightning connectors instead.

iPhone 12 phones could be the first to ship without EarPods, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a research note seen by MacRumors. Kuo has provided plenty of insight into Apple’s plans in the past few years, and his predictions were mostly accurate.

The analyst says that Apple might be interested in driving demand for AirPods by removing the EarPods from the iPhone retail box. AirPods have been best-selling products since Apple launched them a few years ago, and prompted everyone else in the business to come up with alternatives.

Kuo expects an uptick in AirPods shipments in the second half of the year, and a special AirPods promotion in late 2020.

Kuo sees Apple selling as many as 94 million AirPods units this year, including both AirPods and AirPods Pro models. The analyst expects strong demand in the second half of the year, which would more than make up for lost sales in the second quarter.

Several reports claim the new iPhone series will have four distinct models, all featuring all-screen displays with smaller notches. The smallest 5.4-inch device will sell for $649, which is $50 less than the iPhone 11’s starting price, the same reports said. That’s the kind of price that no other Android handset maker can match right now. Even Google’s mid-range Pixel 5 is expected to cost around $699.

But add to that the price of AirPods or AirPods Pro, and the price goes up. On the other hand, Apple could always offer some sort of discount to buyers who are ready to pay for a bundle that includes AirPods and iPhone 12. We’ve already seen Samsung offer free Galaxy Buds with its Galaxy S10 phones, or gift cards that could be used towards the purchase of wireless earphones with the Galaxy S20 series.

As for new AirPods, it’s unclear when newer models will be launched. There’s been increased talk of an AirPods 3 version that could be launched at any time, as well as an AirPods Pro Lite model that could arrive soon. Kuo says the Lite models are more likely to be part of the Beats brand. Separately, Apple is also expected to launch over-the-ear wireless headphones that could be sold as AirPods Studio.

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.

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