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AirPods 3 leak reveals release date window and design

AirPods Pro
(Image credit: Future)

The AirPods 3 have had their design and release window potentially revealed by an expert prediction. The refreshed earbuds will reportedly debut at WWDC — but not the one taking place this week. 

Reported by AppleInsider, the news comes from Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo. He claims we will see the next generation of AirPods in exactly a year's time, with the plan being to debut them at WWDC 2021.

The biggest change could come in the form new form factor, which Kuo compares to the AirPods Pro. These were Apple's first earbuds with gel tips, a popular and effective feature for comfort and audio quality. Otherwise, perhaps we're due for another all-plastic design, except in the "hairdryer" shape found on Apple's higher-end buds.

It's still unclear what exactly the AirPods 3 are, however. While the name suggests they will be the successor to the current AirPods, they may in fact be the same product as the AirPods Lite, which are rumored to be a cheaper version of Apple's earbuds.

Kuo predicts that the older existing AirPods models will continue to sell well in the meantime, despite a drop in sales during the period of global lockdowns. He cites stock clearance efforts and Apple's recent back to school deal, which offered AirPods as a free gift with other eligible devices, as the reason why Apple won't have a problem clearing space for the new generation of AirPods.

Kuo predicts a 28% increase in AirPods sales from 2021 partly because of the demand for upgrades from existing AirPods users, but also because of the iPhone 12. He has previously claimed that Apple won't include wired EarPods in the phone's box this year, meaning people will be more inclined to invest in Apple's earbuds.

Richard Priday

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. He's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.