AirPods 3 clone tease sleek design for Apple's next earbuds

AirPods 3 clone
(Image credit: EverythingApplePro)

We’ve already seen still photos of AirPods 3 counterfeits and now there are more widely-available clones of the upcoming Apple wireless earbuds as well.

YouTube channel EverythingApplePro found one of these knock-offs, which is based on a leaked AirPods 3 design from earlier this year. Obviously it’s not the real thing, but their unboxing video does provide a good glimpse into what the AirPods 3 could look like.

The AirPods 3 clone in question is the Air60 TWS, which is currently sold through the gray market site AliExpress. It appears to copy that design leak down to the finest details, like the positioning and size of the IR sensors, and also copies the leaked AirPods 3 charging case design. 

EverythingApplePro compared this to the current-gen AirPods and AirPods Pro cases, and it looks like it could be the smallest, most portable AirPods case yet.

Other elements of the Air60 TWS line up with what we’ve seen and heard from other AirPods 3 leaks. It showcases a shorter stem than that of the AirPods, only slightly less compact than the AirPods Pro, and features a Force Sensor on each earbud — or a clone version, anyway.

EverythingApplePro also found that there was nowhere to affix a set of removable in-ear tips. Various rumors have the AirPods 3 tipped to include ear tips as standard, forgo them completely or let you add them optionally. 

But if the Air60 TWS really does copy the final AirPods 3 design it looks like the new buds will use the same one-size-fits-all approach as the current AirPods. That said, the YouTuber did find the new design creates a slightly better seal in the ear than the genuine second-gen AirPods, so the AirPods 3 could produce better passive noise isolation.

Curiously, the Air60 TWS also includes a working “spatial audio” feature. It’s still unclear whether the actual AirPods 3 will support the Apple’s “real” spatial audio, and it wasn’t part of the aforementioned design leaks. But it would make for a nice addition even if Apple wants to avoid treading on the AirPods Pro’s toes.

Of course Apple could have changed the AirPods 3 design since these leaks, though it would have to be quick about it: the new earbuds are expected to enter mass production and release in the second half of 2021.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.