Apple AirPods 3 release window leaked — and there's some bad news

AirPods 3
(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The Apple AirPods 3 might finally launch in the first half of 2021, according to DigiTimes’ supply chain sources (via WCCFTech). 

Rumors have been circulating around the third-generation AirPods for a while now, and we’d been expecting them to arrive some time in 2020. But more recent leaks and reports have them tipped for early 2021, and this new report further cements that release window.  

With the iPhone 12 and Apple Watch 6 predicted to launch this fall, likely through a September or early October showcase, the AirPods 3 would seem like a solid partner to the other Apple devices. So those hoping to see a new set of AirPods to accompany Apple's big product launches this fall may be let down. 

However, the AirPods Pro aren’t yet a year old, having launched in October 2019. So it makes sense that Apple might hold back it’s next-generation AirPods. 

The AirPods 3 are expected to have a similar design to the AirPods Pro, and could even include active noise-cancelling. ANC would be a stellar feature for the next AirPods, though such tech could be held back for the next-generation AirPods Pro to provide Apple fans with an incentive to opt for a more expensive set of earbuds. 

But the AirPods 3 could also come with some other interesting features, such as bone conduction technology that allows audio to effectively be sent through the bones in a person’s skull, thereby boosting the overall aural experience. This does seem like quite a high-end feature for Apple to put in its mainstream wireless earbuds. But it would help the AirPods 3 stand out from rivals like the Google Pixel Buds 2 and Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

It looks like we’ll just have to wait and see what Apple has planned for the AirPods 3, and if they are some six months away, we’d expect more tidbits of information to leak out of Apple before then. But if you’re after an Apple audio fix before 2021, then it looks like the AirPods Studio could be for you. 

The AirPods Studio are expected to be over-ear headphones stuffed full of clever audio capabilities and smart features, likely to challenge the stellar Sony WH-1000XM4. The AirPods Studio are tipped to be revealed September 8

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.