The AirPods 3 is very much in the works, according to a new report that hints at the rumored wireless earbuds’ release date later in 2021.
A paywalled DigiTimes story (via MacRumors) claimed that supply shipments for the new AirPods’ motherboards are underway. Along with what sounds like the Apple Watch 7 and the iPhone 13, the AirPods 3 could therefore be in the manufacturing stage, well in time for a launch later this year.
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"Suppliers including Semco, LG Innotek, Kinsus, Unimicron, Nan Ya, Zhen Ding and AT&S have all kicked off their BT substrate shipments for Apple's next-generation products including the Apple Watch, AirPods and iPhone, which all adopt SiP modules," the DigiTimes report said.
BT resin is used in circuit boards, while SiP (system-in-package) systems allow manufacturers to pack more components into smaller spaces than simpler surface mounted tech. Interestingly, the current AirPods Pro uses a SiP design for its Apple H1 chip, while the standard Apple AirPods only uses surface mounting.
This report therefore backs up two repeating rumors we’ve heard about the AirPods 3: that it’s likely coming in 2021, and will take inspiration from the AirPods Pro. We’ve already seen numerous photos of what could be the AirPods 3 design, which appears to AirPods Pro-style shortened stems; perhaps with internal upgrades, the AirPods 3 could borrow some core features as well.
Active noise cancellation, for instance, may be on the cards. We originally thought ANC on the AirPods 3 was unlikely, given potential competition against the AirPods Pro, but then Apple launched the Beats Studio Buds with both noise cancellation and an AirPods-beating price.
The report’s mention of “next-generation” AirPods could potentially refer to the AirPods Pro 2 instead of the AirPods 3, though this seems a lot less likely. We’ve seen nothing of the AirPods Pro 2 design so far, and in-the-know Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that production won’t even begin until late 2021 to early 2022. If suppliers are shipping their parts now, the AirPods 3 — which has always been tipped to release well ahead of the AirPods Pro 2 — is a much more probable destination.
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