The next generation of AirPods is expected to look a lot different than its predecessors.
Photos from 52Audio claiming to show the AirPods 3 indicate significant changes compared to the current AirPods, most noticeably with a shorter stem that looks a lot more similar to the design of the AirPods Pro. According to the report, these buds do not support active noise reduction as the premium Apple buds do. The leaked buds reportedly also do not support adaptive EQ.
The other big difference between the apparent leak and the AirPods Pro is that the AirPods 3 model in the images published this week appears to have a universal fit like the AirPods 2. That would seem to indicate that we are not getting more customizable ear tips from this product, which is arguably one of the best things about the premium model and is a godsend for people like me with either sensitive or smaller ear canals.
Lastly, and seemingly confirming previously leaked 52Audio images of the product, the AirPods 3 will have a much smaller case than the Pro buds that will support wireless charging. The AirPods 2 can currently be bought either with wired or wireless support, though the wired charging case retails for $40 less at $159. The evidently leaked AirPods 3 also appear to borrow the touch control stem design of the Pro buds as well.
52Audio said the third-generation buds will retain the H1 chip and get 5 hours of playback or 24 hours of battery life with the charging case. On many points, the 52Audio leak jibes with previous reports about the buds from multiple reliable sources. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo last year indicated that the AirPods 3 would have a similar design to the AirPods Pro and would launch in the first half of 2021.
Bloomberg, meanwhile, reported in October that the company was planning to release both the third-generation AirPods model as well as a new version of the AirPods Pro this year. That report did state that the new AirPods would look more like the AirPods Pro but did say that Apple was looking to juice up the battery life, which does not appear to be the case based on the 52Audio leak. Bloomberg additionally cited sources as saying that AirPods Pro may also get an overhauled design and come in a more compact package.
It’s not clear when the next-generation Apple buds will launch, but it’s certainly possible they could make their debut at the Apple event expected this month. They are, after all, long overdue. The AirPods 2 launched in March of 2019. But this month’s event is rumored to be centered on AirTags and iPads, so who knows! Anyone who closely followed last year’s Apple launch schedule knows that Apple could very well string us along for months instead of giving us everything in a single sitting.