If a recent set of supply chain reports is to be believed, it looks like we might be seeing Apple’s next AirPods Pro and a new iPhone SE much sooner than expected.
According to Chinese suppliers that spoke with Mac Otakara late last week, Apple could have its second-generation AirPods Pro ready to go in April — several months sooner than previously suspected — and we could also see a release of a “third-generation” iPhone SE around the same time.
While neither product is entirely out of the question, it’s always important to keep in mind that reports coming from Apple’s suppliers often have a better idea of what’s coming than they do of when it may actually be happening.
However, if the reports are authentic, Apple should be preparing for mass production soon, if it hasn’t already taken steps to do so.
New AirPods Pro 2021
Until now, the only AirPods that we had been expecting to see in the first half of 2021 were the third-generation version of the standard AirPods, however Mac Otakara’s sources suggest that we’ll see a new version of the AirPods Pro released around the same time.
The report indicates that the new AirPods Pro will feature a slightly redesigned charging case, which will maintain the same 21mm thickness, and approximately the same height (46mm vs 45.2mm), while shrinking in width from 61mm down to 54mm.
Previous reports have suggested that Apple is working on a more compact design for the second-generation AirPods Pro, with the ultimate aim to remove the stem entirely and go with a design that’s more akin to the “buds” offered by competitors Samsung and Google. However, the report also notes that Apple may be facing challenges in accomplishing that with all the technology that’s packed into the AirPods Pro.
However, we also can’t rule out the possibility that this report may be confusing the third-generation AirPods with the AirPods Pro, since the former are expected to adapt the physical design of the AirPods Pro, offering in-ear passive noise isolation without the more sophisticated Active Noise Cancellation features of the actual “Pro” version. This would line up with most other reports that are suggesting a spring release for a new version of the standard AirPods.
New iPhone SE 2021
Apple’s budget iPhone SE is much more of an enigma than most of the company’s current products, particularly since we don’t really have much of a track record to go on for determining a likely release cycle.
The first iPhone SE was released back in 2016, and at the time it came out as an answer to those who were longing for a much smaller iPhone, taking the design from the 2013 iPhone 5s and packing in the same A9 chip as the then-current iPhone 6s.
This same strategy was repeated last year with the 2020 iPhone SE, which took the 2017 iPhone 8 and added the A13 chip to bring it up to current specs, but didn’t really change anything else in the process.
It’s hard to say at this point what a third-generation iPhone SE would look like, as it would pretty much have to be a departure from the prior models — there’d be no point at all in Apple taking the 2018 iPhone XS or iPhone XR design and slapping in an A14 chip, especially since the iPhone XR is still on sale.
While there have been several rumours of an “iPhone SE Plus” on the horizon, most reliable reports suggest that this won’t come before the second half of 2021. Further, the reference to a “third-generation” iPhone SE in Mac Otakara’s report implies that it will be a direct successor to the 4.7-inch model, and not a new “Plus” model.
Other reports have pointed to a new iPhone SE that features an edge-to-edge display and power button Touch ID, but this year seems a bit soon for that — it’s not supposed to be coming until next year.
At this point, we suspect that if the rumours of a third-generation iPhone SE are true at all, it’s most likely to be a modest upgrade to last year’s model, perhaps simply to introduce a 5G-capable version into the mix.