Apple could launch two new AirPods models later this year — but AirPods Pro 3 isn’t one of them

AirPods 3 in ear
(Image credit: Future)

If you’re not finding the current slate of Apple AirPods very appealing, then you may be interested to hear the latest news from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. According to Gurman’s sources, Apple is set to start manufacturing two different sets of AirPods this year, ready to launch sometime in the fall.

According to Gurman these new AirPods are codenamed B768(E) and B768(M), and are designed to replace the AirPods 2 and AirPods 3 that are currently on sale. Apparently the (E) model is an “entry” pair of AirPods while the (M) model is “mid-tier”. I'm guessing the (M) model is what we'll end up calling AirPods 4.

It sounds like the pair are designed to sit below the AirPods Pro 2, and will no doubt feature appropriate features and pricing. The mid-tier buds are set to arrive with active noise cancellation and Find My speakers in the charging case — allowing the case to make sounds in the event they get lost. Both models are also expected to come with a new design, an improved fit and USB-C charging cases.

These new AirPods are expected to arrive in either September or October, which could see them launch alongside the new iPhone 16. Or not, since Apple has been doing a lot more quiet, standalone product launches in recent years. Apparently it’s all about Apple trying to break into the lower-priced market, which is an area the company has long avoided.

As for the AirPods Pro 3, Gurman says that they could arrive as soon as next year. Previously he’s claimed that these new buds have been in development for a few years, and may even include low-resolution cameras for scanning your surroundings. Why? Presumably for some sort of mixed reality functionality and as an additional accessibility feature for users with visual impairments.

The AirPods 3 facing off against the AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Not much else is known about those three upcoming AirPods models. However Gurman has also noted iOS 18 could launch with some significant software update for Apple’s AirPods, including hearing-aid functionality for AirPods Pro. Assuming it gets approval from the FDA, that is.

That’s all worth bearing in mind if you’re thinking about picking up a new pair of AirPods in the near future. If you don’t have to pick up a pair right away, it may be worth waiting for the new models to arrive. 

Of course AirPods do tend to go on sale pretty regularly, and right now you can pick up the AirPods 2 for $99 at Amazon, which is just $20 short of their lowest ever price. Meanwhile the USB-C AirPods Pro are currently $189 at Amazon, which is the lowest price we’ve seen, and $60 less than the normal asking price.

If you’re in the market for AirPods now, with no room to wait, be sure to check out our best cheap AirPods deals and sales page. That’ll show you the best discounts on all kinds of AirPods models from a variety of retailers.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.