Apple’s hardware schedule for the AirPods line is a bit odd compared to everything else. For example, the AirPods 2 debuted all the way back in March of 2019, while the AirPods Pro was released in October of 2019. Then, late last year, the AirPods Max made its debut, but there has not been anything in between. But those who have been waiting for an updated version of the standard AirPods won’t have much longer to wait.
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AirPods 3: A Familiar, Yet Different, Design
Before Apple announced the all-new iPad Pro, Apple TV, and AirTags back in March, there were rumblings that the AirPods 3 could make an appearance. Of course, this never came to fruition, as there was no mention of AirPods at the event. However, leading up to the event, we began seeing what appeared to be shells for a new set of AirPods.
The design is familiar, as it falls in line with the AirPods Pro. However, the biggest difference here is that the AirPods 3 are not likely to include silicone ear tips. Instead, the ear tip has been slightly redesigned to rest in your ear, just like the standard AirPods 2 already do.
Other leaks have revealed that the AirPods 3 will offer a shorter stem, while the case will be wider to accommodate the new design. It’s also being suggested that the AirPods 3 are going to offer 20% more battery life compared to the AirPods 2. And instead of offering a wired and wireless case option, wireless charging will be standard.
AirPods 3: Features
You can pretty much throw any notions of Active Noise Cancellation out the window. The AirPods 3 are an update to the standard AirPods line, which does not include the feature that is reserved for the AirPods Pro. Where Apple is planning on offering an update is by introducing Dolby Atmos with Spatial Audio.
This move is pretty obvious, considering Dolby Atmos with Spatial Audio is available for Apple Music subscribers. Plus, in addition to the new design, Apple will need some type of way to differentiate the AirPods 3 from the second-gen models.
Yeah, seen in pics. I’m wondering if new AirPod case gets magnets. pic.twitter.com/kXBeeoSHRE
— Dave Zatz (@davezatz) September 6, 2021
Even more recently, FCC filings reveal that Apple may be working on a new AirPods case altogether. But this version would include MagSafe compatibility. What is unclear is whether this is the version of MagSafe introduced with the iPhone 12 series, or if it’s what we’re expecting from the rumored MacBook Pro redesign.
Finally, it’s being reported that Apple is going to integrate a new version of the H1 chip. This will help to provide better connectivity with your Apple devices, along with offering better battery life. A new H1 chip paired with a larger battery in the case, could mean we’re in store for all-day battery life.
AirPods 3: Pricing
Whenever a new Apple product is on the way, one of the biggest questions comes down to price. With the AirPods 2 available for $159, and the AirPods Pro coming in at $249, we feel pretty safe assuming something around $179.
Further compounding this is that the recently-released Beats Studio Buds (which is owned by Apple) are priced at $149. So essentially, the AirPods 3 would give Apple a set of in-ear headphones at every major price point above $100.
We’re still keeping our fingers crossed for a sub-$100 set of AirPods. We wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Apple kept the AirPods 2nd-generation around and lowered the price to even $129 to get closer to that $100 mark.
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.