In a report from reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo today, Apple is said to be announcing the new generation of AirPods as part of Tuesday’s iPhone 13 event. The new ‘AirPods 3’ will be the new version of Apple’s AirPods earbuds, which were last refreshed in March 2019.
However, Kuo says that Apple will keep selling the second-generation AirPods when the new models ship. He says this suggest either AirPods 3 will be sold at a higher price — current models start at $159 — or that AirPods 2 will see a price drop alongside the AirPods 3 release, which would adopt the current AirPods 2’s price point.
Kuo does not seem to know which scenario is more likely. Instead, he simply indicates that AirPods 2 and AirPods 3 will be sold simultaneously as AirPods 2 production continues.
Based on previous rumors, the new AirPods models are expected to feature a new design that resembles the shape of the current-generation AirPods Pro, notably featuring shorter stems on the earbuds themselves.
However, the AirPods 3 are not expected to feature active noise cancellation features — that will remain exclusive to AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. AirPods 3 are expected to support head-tracking Spatial Audio however, which lines up neatly with the release of iOS 15 that enhances Dolby Atmos music with the head-tracking effect in addition to video content.
Right now, second-generation AirPods are sold in two models: with and without Qi wireless charging case. The AirPods with standard wired case sell for $159, the SKU with wireless case included costs $199.
Overall, Kuo expects the launch of the new AirPods 3 generation to have a positive impact on Apple’s truly wireless earbud sales, with the analyst predicting an increase in shipments of 10-15% YOY for the first quarter of 2022.
Updates to AirPods Pro are not expected until sometime next year. Bloomberg previously said that the AirPods Pro will be redesigned to be more compact as Apple intends to eliminate the stem altogether. They may also feature integrated sensors for fitness tracking.
Stay tuned to 9to5Mac for full coverage of all the announcements at Apple’s first fall media event, which will kick off at 10 AM PT on Tuesday, 14 September. Alongside new AirPods, we expect to see Apple unveil the iPhone 13 lineup and the new Apple Watch Series 7.
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