A new pair of Apple's cheaper AirPods that look like the AirPods Pro could be coming next year, says one of the most accurate Apple analysts

Crystal Cox/Business Insider
  • Apple may release a successor to its standard AirPods that have a design similar to the AirPods Pro, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
  • The new AirPods, rumoured to be called the AirPods 3, are said to use the same system-in-package technology as the AirPods Pro.
  • It’s one of few audio products Apple is rumoured to be developing, along with premium over-ear headphones and a smaller HomePod.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Apple may bring the AirPods Pro’s more compact design to its standard wireless earbuds, according to the latest report from TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Kuo, in a new research note obtained by MacRumors and Apple Insider, says the new AirPods will use similar system-in-package internals as the current AirPods Pro.

System-in-package refers to the method of packaging more than one integrated circuit together so that they can work as one, according to the semiconductor industry news and research site Semiconductor Engineering. System-in-package tech could make it easier to squeeze more components into compact designs, the reports said.

The new AirPods, which reports have referred to as the AirPods 3, are said to launch in the first half of 2021. With his new report about the next-generation standard AirPods using the AirPods Pro’s system-in-package technology, Kuo is reiterating his previous claim that the AirPods 3 will look more like the AirPods Pro.

Unlike the standard AirPods, the AirPods Pro have shorter stems and an in-ear design that enables active noise cancellation. They also come with multiple ear tips to accommodate various fits.

Kuo hasn’t said much else about what to expect from the AirPods 3 except for that they may have an “all new form factor design” like that of the AirPods Pro.

Apple did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

The AirPods 3 are said to be one of multiple audio products in Apple’s pipeline. Apple is reportedly working on a pair of premium over-ear headphones to rival offerings from Bose and Sennheiser, according to reports from Bloomberg and Kuo. Apple is also working on a smaller, less expensive version of the HomePod smart speaker that’s said to be about half the size of the original, according to Bloomberg.

Apple’s success with AirPods since the original model launched in 2016 has made it the leader in both the truly wireless audio market and the wearable tech industry. Apple accounted for 45% of the global market for truly wireless earbuds in the third quarter of 2019, according to Counterpoint Research, and 29.3% of the wearable tech market, says the International Data Corporation.

Wearable products like AirPods and the Apple Watch have also served as a bright spot for Apple in terms of sales as iPhone revenue has been falling. In its fiscal second-quarter earnings report, for example, Apple said its wearables, home, and accessories unit was responsible for $US6.3 billion in revenue, up from $US5.1 billion in the year-ago quarter, while iPhone revenue declined.

Kuo is known for his generally accurate predictions about upcoming Apple products. He correctly predicted that Apple would release a new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air with improved keyboards in the first half of 2020. He also said late last year that Apple would launch a new iPad Pro with 3D sensing capabilities.

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