Apple could be launching cheaper AirPods Lite later this year

The Apple AirPods 3 wireless earbuds and charging case
(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Rumors of an 'AirPods Lite' version of Apple's popular wireless earbuds could be in the works, according to a report by Jeff Pu of Haitong International Tech Research (via 9to5Mac). 

It's only been a few months since we saw the highly anticipated next-gen AirPods Pro 2 replace the company's original ANC earbuds with significant feature advances. And Apple surprised many of us by launching its second generation version at exactly the same price as the original ($249 / $329 CAD / £249 / AU$399). Although a boon for fans of Apple's flagship ANC earbuds already anticipating a price hike for the Pro 2 version, they're still a considerable outlay and keep the brand out of reach for many wireless earbud buyers, despite the undeniably great performance and features.

But this could all be about to change as Pu's report mentions that the Cupertino giant is working on a model described as "a lower priced product to compete with non-Apple earbuds." Although at this point, there's no information on what exactly the product is and what features it may have, it's an exciting prospect for wireless earbuds fans everywhere, and one that could possibly make getting into Apple's audio ecosystem more accessible to many. 

Currently, the most affordable models in the company's four-strong AirPods earbuds lineup are the AirPods 3 ($169) and the AirPods 2 ($129) non-ANC models. So it's exciting to consider that Apple may be working on introducing an AirPods entry-level model. Could we perhaps see the first AirPods model under $99 introduced later this year? I have my fingers crossed.

Apple AirPods Lite analysis

Based on his industry sources, Pu's report claims that demand for AirPods is expected to fall in 2023, and that any new AirPods model would most likely replace the AirPods 2. 

Although details are thin on the ground at the moment, if there is an Apple AirPods Lite version in the works, the introduction should help to buoy a slowing AirPods market, as well as being a significant challenger in the fiercely contested budget wireless earbuds sector.

Stay tuned for more AirPods Lite news as we receive it. 

Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.