AirPods Lite tipped for $99 price tag — but may not arrive until next year

Apple AirPods
(Image credit: Future)

2023 isn’t shaping up to be a particularly big year for Apple, supposedly because of the VR/AR headset, but that means 2024 may have a lot more in store for us. According to one report this could include the AirPods Max 2 and the newly-rumored affordable AirPods

This comes from long-time supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a series of tweets who notes both sets of headphones are likely to begin mass shipment in late 2024 or early 2025.  

Interestingly, the original rumors for the cheap AirPods, or AirPods Lite if you prefer, claimed that the buds would be launching at some point in 2023. Kuo’s tweets would dispute that, and means there may be a significantly longer wait before the AirPods Lite are actually here.

As for the $99 price tag, that would make a huge amount of sense. The cheapest AirPods on the market right now are the $129 Apple AirPods 2. Not only would $99 be a noticeable price decrease in comparison, various deals and sales have seen the second-generation buds drop to that price. In fact Amazon has the AirPods 2 on sale for $99 at the time of writing.

Kuo didn’t offer any additional details for the AirPods Max 2, and it’s not clear what additional features they might offer. We’ve heard speculation that a cheaper, lighter pair of AirPods Max could launch later this year, though it’s unclear whether they would qualify as “true” second generation. They could easily be the AirPods Max equivalent of the Apple Watch SE, for all we know.

There’s some speculation that the AirPods Max 2 could get touch controls, and we’d expect a bunch of upgraded hardware to come with it. An upgrade from the existing H1 chip, Precision Finding as seen in the Apple AirTags, alongside improvements to the design and audio technology inside. None of that really screams “cheaper,” certainly not from a company like Apple.

There’s a bunch of conflicting information out there at the moment, which complicates things. Without some extra clarification from several other leaks, or Apple itself, there’s no way of knowing when we should expect these new products to arrive. We’re just going to have to sit tight and wait this one out.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.