Apple's next AirPods may be called the AirPods X, as rumors have pointed to Apple adopting one of the Beats by Dre brand headphones to its own AirPods family. And they could be coming any minute now, as a surprise announcement, as has been intimated by a recent leak.
We're seeing a lot of fluctuation in the AirPods rumor mill, as they've also been referred to as AirPods Pro Lite. These new headphones are expected to be targeted at the folks who want some AirPods Pro features, but are going for a sportier and workout angle.
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The name AirPods X first circulated as a part of leaked data from Target, when they were referred to as Apple AirPods (X Generation). Soon thereafter, though, we learned AirPods X is the name assigned to a sports-friendly pair of headphones, more details on that below.
AirPods X is one of three new rumored Apple headphones coming this year. We've seen rumors suggest the AirPods 3 could come in Q2 2020, and look like AirPods Pro, but lack the noise-cancellation, but add the force sensors we use to pause playback on the Pros.
The other pair of Apple headphones that look to replace the Beats brand are being called AirPods Studio. First rumored to be called Apple Over-Ear Headphones, these are expected to hit around $350. Pricey, right?
AirPods X price
A major AirPods X leak from tech analyst Jon Prosser points at a price that's close to $200. This is an interesting price, because that would make them cheaper than the $249 AirPods Pro, close to the AirPods with Wireless Charging Case ($199) and more expensive than the normal $159 AirPods.
AirPods X release date
Prosser once pegged the AirPods X as "Aimed for Sept/Oct" — pointing to Apple plans to reveal the headphones as it unveils the iPhone 12 this fall. However, given that Apple just released the iPad Pro 2020 and the MacBook Air 2020 via press releases, it's possible that the company may not need a special event to unveil the next generation of AirPods.
Prosser recently tweeted about the unpredictability of Apple's next AirPods release, saying "There’s still an iMac and AirPods ready to ship. ... Theoretically, since they’re ready, they could drop at any time."
Heads up: There’s still an iMac and AirPods ready to ship. (Not sure which AirPods yet, only know codename)Theoretically, since they’re ready, they could drop at any time. I’ll let you know if/when I hear a date. Let’s see if Apple can keep it a secret from me 👀🤫May 6, 2020
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo acknowledged the AirPods X rumor according to MacRumors, and said that new AirPods slated for the second half of 2020 will be "more likely to be the new Beats model." And since it's now July, we're well within this H2 2020 window.
Apple's WWDC 2020 conference may contain hardware reveals, but all signs point to AirPods X not appearing at that event.
AirPods X rumors
Prosser said "think Beats X" when referring to the AirPods X, which was surprising to hear. The Beats X aren't completely wireless headphones, which would make this reveal open up the definition of what the AirPods brand means. Beats X are a pair of earbuds tethered together with a wire that wraps around your neck, which then connect wirelessly to your device via Apple's W1 chip.
Prosser ended his tweet saying "End goal: phase out Beats," suggesting this is the end of that lineup. Soon thereafter, 9to5Mac reported that replacing Beats with Apple products "is not a strategy that Apple plans to pursue. The strategy is not one that should be viewed as being on the table for Apple."
AirPods X features
This move from a completely wireless design, and the lack of "Pro" in the name , signals that the AirPods X may be more like regular AirPods, and not feature the active noise cancelling or Transparency modes of the AirPods Pro.
But since these headphones were originally rumored to be called AirPods Pro Lite, according to Prosser, we're not sure if they'd lose all of the features — especially because Transparency mode would be incredibly helpful for folks who are working out.