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AirPods 3 could launch next year with a surprising new design

AirPods 3 could launch next year with a surprising new design
(Image credit: Future)

Apple's AirPods 3 could look a whole lot like the AirPods Pro, thanks to a system-in-package (SiP) solution that would allow for smaller, sleeker buds.

MacRumors reports that Ming-Chi Kuo's latest note to investors suggests the upcoming Apple buds will be more compact than last year's AirPods. Like the premium-tier AirPods Pro, the new entry-level AirPods can be condensed with the help of a SiP chip system.

This isn't the first time we've heard the iconic AirPods will be redesigned to look more like AirPods Pro — in fact, a few weeks ago Kuo said (opens in new tab)  this would be the case. But now we know how Apple will make the size reduction possible. 

SiP technology allows devices like smartphones and smartwatches to pack a ton of computing capabilities into compact casings. As some of the best wireless earbuds push the envelope on features, makers have turned to SiP systems to maximize the potential of such small products.

Apple employed a SiP system for AirPods Pro, which offer active noise cancelling and advanced gesture controls. While we might not see these features in AirPods 3, we should expect a shorter case and stems at the very least. 

Although it'd be well-timed for Apple to launch AirPods 3 alongside the iPhone 12 (which won't come with EarPods) and Apple Watch 6 in the fall, Kuo predicts the AirPods 3 are coming in the first half of 2021 and will fall around the sub-$200 price point. It's likely AirPods 3 will replace AirPods 2 on store shelves as well.

Kate Kozuch
Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account (opens in new tab), which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.