AirPods 3 and AirPods 2 Pro expected next year with possible redesign

AirPods 3 and AirPods 2 Pro expected next year with possible redesign
(Image credit: Rieplhuber)

2021 could be the year we see second-generation AirPods Pro and the third iterations of the standard AirPods, reports Bloomberg.

According to the publication's sources – "people familiar with the plans" – third-generation AirPods and sequels to the AirPods Pros are in development for a 2021 release. 

The AirPods 3s will supposedly borrow design cues from the current AirPods Pros with a shorter stem and replaceable ear tips, however noise-cancellation will remain a feature exclusive to the Pros. 

Apple are reportedly looking to increase battery life, too, expanding on the 24 hours (5 from the buds, 19 from the case) offered by the existing, 2019-released AirPods. Internal discussions around launching the new entry-level AirPods in the first half of next year have apparently taken place.

The AirPods Pro 2s, meanwhile, could reportedly get rid of the stem completely, mimicking a rounder design, as adopted by the likes of Samsung Galaxy Buds+ and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2. That said, the report states that packing noise-cancellation, wireless antennas and microphones into a smaller AirPods Pro earbud housing has so far proved challenging, so perhaps we cross our fingers, but not hold our breaths, for a stem-free aesthetic.

Lastly, both AirPods models will be powered by a new Apple wireless chip.

The report repeats murmurs of Apple Studio over-ear headphones joining Apple's audio hardware ranks, citing that headband fit issues have pushed back their production, which was due to start "weeks ago". In fresh rumour news, another smart speaker to sit between the HomePod and newly announced HomePod mini has been considered, as has reducing the price of the original HomePod instead to close the gap between the two models.


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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.