Apple is working on a third-generation version of the AirPods, and for this updated version rumored to be launching in 2021, we could see some design changes for the first time since the AirPods came out in 2016. This guide covers everything that we know about the upcoming AirPods 3.
The third-generation AirPods may be updated with a design that’s similar to the AirPods Pro, featuring a shorter stem and replaceable silicone ear tips that are able to better fit a wider range of ears.
The current AirPods
Though the AirPods 3 might look like the AirPods Pro, they’re not expected to get Pro-level features like Active Noise Cancellation and will instead be identical in overall function to the current AirPods.
A leaked image that’s said to be the AirPods 3 surfaced in November 2020, featuring a design that is similar to the AirPods Pro, which is in line with rumors. The AirPods 3 have a more Pro-like rounded shape and are smaller in size.
New Internal Hardware
Apple is rumored to be working on a new wireless chip that could be included in the third-generation AirPods, and there could potentially be some improvements in battery life. A new wireless chip could bring extended range, but the AirPods 3 are expected to function like the current version with fast device switching and quick pairing with Apple devices, among other benefits.
In more technical news, the AirPods 3 will feature a more compact integrated system-in-package (SiP) that’s similar to the SiP used in the AirPods Pro. This will allow more of the audio features to be integrated into a smaller casing design like the AirPods Pro.
Since the AirPods 3 aren’t getting Active Noise Cancellation, it’s likely the pricing will remain as is, with Apple charging $199 for the AirPods with Wireless Charging Case. It’s not known if there will be a cheaper version available with a standard charging case that charges over Lightning as Apple could opt to discontinue this option.
AirPods 3 are rumored to be coming in the first half of 2021, and if there is a March event as there has been in past years, the AirPods could make a debut in March.
For more on the current-generation AirPods and what we expect to see when the AirPods 3 launch, we have a full AirPods roundup with all of the details you might want to know.