Apple could unveil a pair of high-end, over-ear headphones as soon as this year, according to a new analyst prediction on Monday.
Those over-ear headphones would be Apple-branded, unlike similar devices already released under the company’s Beats Electronics subsidiary, according to a KGI Securities research note penned by well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
They’ll sport an “all-new” design, Kuo said. But the analyst did not expand on what that could mean for the device, aesthetically or functionally. As a high-end product, the over-ear headphones will likely retail at a higher price point than AirPods.
Kuo added that the headphones would be “as convenient” as AirPods, which means the Apple-branded headphones could use the company’s proprietary wireless technology via its W-series chips. The over-ear headphones would, on the other hand, feature significantly better sound quality.
Presumably, the Apple over-ear headphones are a response to the overall commercial and critical success of its wireless AirPods headphones. Kuo’s forecast suggests that Apple is looking to expand its audio accessory lineup in addition to developing a new generation of AirPods. Along with the newly released HomePod, the rumored over-ear headphones would make Apple’s acoustic accessory lineup “more complete,” Kuo said.
Apple will reportedly tap two of its existing suppliers to help build out the over-ear headphones: Primax and SZS. Due to the new headphones’ higher price, Kuo expects Primax’s “business momentum” to receive a boost as the firm’s primary component supplier.
As far as a release date, Kuo expects the wireless headphones to ship around the fourth quarter of 2018 at the earliest. Based on Apple’s previous launch timelines for its audio accessories, that could hint at an announcement during the company’s annual fall keynote and an official launch date before December (barring any product delays or supply issues).
In addition to the over-ear headphones, Kuo’s research note corroborated previous rumors about a second generation of AirPods slated for a release this year.
KGI’s research note echoes a previous report published last week by Bloomberg. According to that publication’s sources, this year’s version of AirPods could feature upgraded wireless technology with a built-in “Hey Siri” functionality. That would allow for hands-free control of the device’s digital assistant.
Kuo had previously forecasted that the 2018 AirPods would feature upgraded internal hardware, including a new quartz component that might tie-in with its upgraded wireless tech.
AirPods will also gain a degree of water resistance, though it’ll likely take until 2019 until a splash-proof pair of AirPods actually hits the market, Bloomberg reported.
Apple will also launch a new AirPods case that will support Qi wireless charging. Some rumors suggest that Apple could unveil the upgraded case in the first half of the year, alongside its AirPower wireless charging mat.