A new leak suggests we won't be waiting that long for the hotly anticipated AirPods 3, with the follow-up to Apple's wireless earbuds coming later this year.
Specifically, Taiwanese supplier ASE Technology has started production of optical sensors that will be embedded in the next generation Apple AirPods, according to DigiTimes (opens in new tab).
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The DigiTimes report, spotted by MacRumors (opens in new tab) doesn't provide a specific launch date. But there is a launch window, according to sources cited in the report, that places the AirPods 3 launch sometime in the third quarter of 2021, which would square with a September launch event for the iPhone 13.
At the moment, DigiTimes has only released a snippet of information about the AirPods 3. A full report should follow soon, hopefully with quotes and more details on release date and what features fans can expect.
Even then, this latest tidbit of information falls in line with past rumors about the upcoming earbuds. According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, his intel points to mass production starting on the AirPods 3 in Q3 2021 as well. This contradicted past reports by Jon Prosser of FrontPageTech who was predicting a spring release.
As for price, according to Korean website The Elec (opens in new tab), eager fans will have to pay a premium to upgrade. The new AirPods 3 are expected to launch at $199, a noticeable jump from the $159 price found with the AirPods 2.
As for AirPods 3 design, there won't be a complete overhaul, but the new AirPods aren't exactly a rehash either. The AirPods 3 are expected to pull in influences from the AirPods Pro, while keeping largely in-line with the AirPods 2.
Reportedly, these earbuds won't offer active noise cancellation, though there should be some audio upgrades. Rumored possibilities include more advanced drivers to give a richer sound. Dolby Atmos and spatial audio support also would be great additions.
According to known Apple leaker LeaksApplePro (opens in new tab), the AirPods 3 should have improved battery life. Given that the current AirPods last a little less than 5 hours on a single change, any improvement would be welcome.