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Although Apple already launched its second-generation AirPods back in March, adding “Hey Siri” support and a wireless charging case, we’ve been hearing persistent rumours since then that Apple has had more AirPods models up its sleeve for this year.
While original reports posited that there could be two models: an “AirPods 3” version that would be a sort of successor to the current AirPods along with higher-end “AirPods Pro,” later reports seemed to settle that speculation down a bit, at least in terms of what we’d see this year, suggesting that Apple would simply be releasing a set of higher-end AirPods that would include Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) — and likely a new design to go with it — but wouldn’t replace the current second-generation AirPods that were released earlier this year.
Code found in the iOS 13.2 beta earlier this month seems to have bolstered this theory, showing an icon with a new AirPods design that includes rubber ear tips — something that would almost certainly be necessary to provide the kind of noise isolation that would be necessary for proper ANC support.
Interchangeable rubber ear tips could also be a big selling point for many users who have found that Apple’s current AirPods design simply doesn’t work in their ears, as much as they may want it to.
Coming Sooner Than Expected?
Early reports from reputable analysts like Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that the new AirPods would arrive sometime between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, but now a new report from China claims that the new noise-cancelling AirPods, which are now being dubbed the “AirPods Pro” — a more logical name if Apple is going to position them as a higher-end version of its current AirPods — will arrive at the end of October and sell for around $260 (NT$8,000).
According to China Economic Daily, the new AirPods will include the rumoured active noise-cancelling feature and a new in-ear design to improve passive noise isolation, along with a metal design to increase heat dissipation.
It’s still not entirely clear if these will be the only new AirPods expected to launch either, as earlier reports have suggested a more iterative update of the second-generation AirPods could also be on the way. Although it’s difficult to see what new features Apple would be adding to its standard AirPods so soon after last spring’s upgrade, a fall refresh may simply deliver new colour options that were previously rumoured, while leaving the hardware unchanged. It’s also conceivable that Chinese supply chain sources are conflating the two models, and this month’s release may simply be a more minor refresh to the second-generation AirPods.
When Apple unveiled its new AirPods last spring, it chose to do so simply by issuing a press release, preferring to keep its March 25 event focused on unveiling its new services such as Apple Arcade, the Apple Card, Apple TV+, and Apple News+.
While it seems as if “AirPods Pro” would warrant getting some stage time, Apple has yet to announce an October event, nor have we heard any rumours of an event in the works, despite the fact that Apple is working on a number of other big things that haven’t been announced yet, so it’s certainly possible that Apple could slip out the new AirPods in a press release to get them in stores for the holiday season rather than delaying them until it’s ready to show them off at a larger event.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]