AirPods 3 leak falls flat as Apple Music launches spatial audio solo

Apple AirPods 3 leak
(Image credit: 52 Audio)

UPDATE: Apple has announced Apple Music spatial audio with Dolby Atmos, and that it will be bringing lossless audio to its entire catalog for no additional monthly fee. However, the AirPods 3 has not been announced. 

It’s always a good idea to approach leaks with a critical eye, but the latest AirPods 3 release launch date rumor is hard to believe.

As reported by AppleTrack and originally tipped by YouTuber Luke Miani, the AirPods 3 will supposedly be announced — if not launched outright on May 18, just a couple of days from now. 

Here's why we‘re skeptical. AppleTrack is more of an aggregator of leaks than a leaks source itself, but Miani has no track record of providing insider information — much less information that turns out to be accurate later.

Second, a mid-May launch would contradict pretty much everything else we’ve heard about the AirPods 3 launch window, which consensus has largely built for being in the second half of 2021. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, for whom AppleTrack has a 75% leak accuracy rating, has suggested that the AirPods 3 hasn’t even entered mass production yet

We do believe the AirPods 3 launch is getting pretty close, as the apparent design has leaked repeatedly. And, although it would seemingly make more sense for Apple to announce its next big headphones release at an event, like WWDC 2021, both the AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro had much humbler launches via press release.

Miani apparently told AppleTracks that this will be how Apple reveals the AirPods 3 as well, alongside the launch of a new Apple Music Hi-Fi service. This is rumored to offer lossless and Hi-Res music for the same $9.99 per month. 

That’s believable enough — a double-header of audio releases makes a lot of sense — and since Apple has now teased an official Apple Music announcement coming soon, it's feasible at least that Apple Music Hi-Fi could indeed launch on May 18. 

As for the AirPod 3, however, this date just seems a little too soon, given what we’ve heard from more established sources. For what it's worth, regular Apple tipster LeaksApplePro has suggested Apple Music HiFi will be revealed on May 18, but the AirPods 3 won't be. LeaksApplePro has a mixed record, but recently did correctly name the products that launched during the Apple April event.

A May 18 launch would also see Apple competing with Google I/O 2021, which starts on the same day. Then again, Apple has shown that it could care less what the competition is doing. 

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.