Apple's iPhone 12 may not come with any wired headphones at all, possibly setting the stage for the first totally wireless iPhone

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderThe iPhone 11
  • Apple may not include its wired EarPods in the box with the iPhone 12, according to a new report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
  • Apple may offer promotions for the AirPods if it decides not to include EarPods, the report says.
  • Such a move would come just before Apple is rumoured to release a totally wireless iPhone in 2021, which Kuo also predicted in a previous report.
  • AirPods have become a runaway success for Apple since their 2016 debut, helping to boost the company’s wearables division as iPhone sales have slumped.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone nearly four years ago in September 2016, and this year it may take those efforts one step further by nixing its wired EarPods from the iPhone 12’s packaging, according to the latest predictions from TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Kuo, who has been accurate about some Apple product predictions in the past, said that Apple may offer promotions or discounts on the AirPods around the holiday season, according to 9to5Mac. The report does not specify whether these expected discounts would pertain to the second-generation regular AirPods, which sell for $US159 or $US199 with the wireless charging case, or the $US249 AirPods Pro. Apple also sells its wired EarPods through its website for $US29.

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

Regardless, such a move will likely result in some backlash from critics and consumers. Apple’s removal of the headphone jack with the iPhone 7 was met with controversy, with some tech critics disapproving of the decision and calling it “user-hostile” at the time. The company also introduced AirPods during the same product unveiling as an alternative to traditional wired headphones.

But since 2016, Apple has included both a dongle that allows users to connect headphones with the standard 3.5mm jack to their iPhones as well as EarPods that plug into the phone’s Lightning connector. The decision to forego the inclusion of wired earbuds with the newest iPhone would be Apple’s most aggressive move away from traditional wired headphones yet.

Such a launch would also come just before Apple may release an iPhone with no ports whatsoever – not even the Lightning charging port that’s been a mainstay since 2012. Kuo reported in a previous note from December that Apple may be planning to release its first totally wireless iPhone in 2021. That phone would likely be the most expensive one in Apple’s 2021 lineup, and Kuo didn’t offer any additional details other than that it would offer a “completely wireless experience.”

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, talked about the company’s move toward wireless when unveiling the original AirPods in 2016.

“It makes no sense to tether ourselves with cables to our mobile devices,” he said during the company’s keynote.

AirPods have become an increasingly important part of Apple’s product lineup since their 2016 debut. As Apple’s iPhone sales have faltered over the course of 2019, Apple’s wearables division has continued to grow. Apple said a little more than a year ago in April 2019 that its wearables category alone is the size of a Fortune 200 company. The success of both the Apple Watch and AirPods has made Apple the top maker of wearable devices in the world during the fourth quarter of 2019, according to The International Data Corporation.

Other than the potential exclusion of EarPods from its packaging, the iPhone 12 is expected to come with 5G support and OLED screens across all models. This year’s iPhone is expected to come in four variants: two less expensive models and two high-end versions to succeed the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. Those pricier models are rumoured to come with a Lidar sensor for improving augmented reality performance, much like the newest iPad Pro.

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