AirPods 3 will have competition from new HTC and OnePlus earbuds

(Image credit: FCCID)

Apple’s AirPods are an excellent pair of wireless in-ear headphones, but their all-white design is starting to age a bit. Clad in a deep glossy black and sporting a design very much like Apple’s headphones, the HTC U Ear wireless earbuds could be a surprising and stylish AirPods alternative. 

First spotted by Android Police, the HTC U Ear headphones feature a long stem on the earbuds that presumably hold the microphone to enable hands-free calls and as well as a form of brace to keep them in the wearer’s ears. And they feature a carrying case that’s also very similar to that of the AirPods.  

But HTC’s earbuds offer two key elements that separate them from Apple’s AirPods. The first is the aforementioned black finish, with a glossy effect that looks much like the top of a grand piano. That should appeal to people who hate the white-only option of the AirPods, which arguably look a little ostentatious when out and about.

The other feature is that the headphones charge through a USB-C connection, which is handy for folks that already use the common charging cable on their Android phone. The AirPods do offer wireless charging, which is something the HTC U Ear buds don’t. However, HTC could make up for this slightly by offering fast-charging capabilities.

There’s no word on when the HTC U Ear headphones will make their debut. But they’ve just received arrival from the Taiwanese National Communication Commission and the US FCC, so they could be on their way sooner than later.

More wireless earbuds in the market means more competition for Apple to fend off, which is why we’re waiting to see what it does next with the AirPods 3 in order to keep rivals at bay. Speaking of which, OnePlus is reportedly working on its first truly wireless headphones which will also look rather close to the AirPods 2. 

OnePlus has a reputation for making solid if not spectacular headphones to go with its smartphones like the OnePlus 8 Pro. And if it can make an impressive pair of wireless earbuds that can compete with the AirPods on sound quality while also undercutting them on price, then Apple’s wireless headphones could have serious competition. At least until Apple releases the AirPods Studio or second-generation AirPods Pro.  

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.