iPhone 12 leak reveals a bad surprise — this won’t be in the box

iPhone 12 render by PhoneArena
(Image credit: PhoneArena)

Apple won’t be bundling its EarPods headphones with the iPhone 12, as part of a move to get people to buy its AirPods wireless earbuds. 

At least that the latest prediction from analyst and Apple oracle Ming-Chi Kuo, who in his latest research note (via MacRumors) said he expects Apple to leave the EarPods out of the iPhone 12’s box. That would be quite the move by Apple, as the company has included wired earbuds with its smartphones since the first iPhone launched back in 2007. 

Given that Apple charges rather steep prices for its iPhones (aside from the iPhone SE 2020), it's not unreasonable to expect a free pair of basic earbuds in the box. But Kuo predicted that shipments of the AirPods will drop in Apple’s second-quarter results for the year, meaning that Apple will look to boost interest in the AirPods again when the iPhone 12 makes its debut, likely around September. 

And the easy (if somewhat cynical) way to do that would be to leave the EarBuds out of the box and prompt iPhone 12 users to look at Apple’s other headphones instead. The AirPods Pro have impressed us, and Apple is apparently working on a pair of AirPods 3 as well as the over-ear AirPods Studio headphones, meaning Apple fans should have plenty to choose from. 

However, there’s a chance this could backfire for Apple if Kuo’s prediction ends up coming to fruition. There’s a whole range of impressive wireless headphones that work with iOS devices, such as the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds, which sport excellent audio quality and have active noise cancellation, all for a price that undercuts the AirPods Pro. 

The iPhone 12 is slated for a September reveal, with rumors pointing to four new models packing upgraded specs, a narrower display notch, and improved cameras. The iPhone 12 Pro series could have an especially impressive array comprised a new 64MP main wide camera, a 3x telephoto lens, an ultra-wide camera and a new LiDAR depth sensor. Just know that all of this impressive tech may come at the expense of a complimentary set of earbuds. 

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.