Super-Cool Photos Leak Showing Strikingly Different Earbuds


Apple’s AirPods have been one of the company’s biggest successes since the first launch in 2016, with huge demand outstripping supply for most of their life.

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The true-wireless earbuds were updated in 2019 with new innards but an identical design, though with a wireless-chargeable case.

Now, it looks like the third-generation of AirPods may be almost upon us, because in the last few hours two sets of images have leaked, showing a completely different design.

Here’s what we know.

The design lies somewhere between AirPods and AirPods Pro.

This is what we’d been led to believe in previous leaks but these images, if they’re real, confirm this. The photos have come from LeaksApplePro, and they look convincing (take a look just below).

The stalks are shorter than on the AirPods, around the length of the Pro, that is, stubby and thicker.

But, where the AirPods Pro have silicone ear tips to afford a better noise-isolating effect, these new earbuds have no tips. If there’s any thought that they might be supplied in the box but not attached in the pics, look again: there’s no room to attach ear tips and still fit the charging case.

Couldn’t they be AirPods Pro with the tips removed?

I see where you’re coming from but, no, the design is very different. Look at the black vents, for instance, which are in quite other places.

These are something completely new. That in itself doesn’t guarantee that they’re the real thing, of course.

But the latest images chime with previous leaks and renders – though some rumors have hinted that ear tips would come for AirPods 3.

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GizmoChina leaked similar images today as well (also without ear tips). Does that make the images genuine? Of course not, but the increased weight of opinion hints that something genuine may be seen in the rumors.

What about features?

While previous indications have been that Spatial Audio—one of the high points of AirPods Pro and AirPods Max—may be included in AirPods 3, there is no suggestion that the Pro’s standout feature, noise-cancelling, will be included in the new entry-level earbuds.

Apple’s noise-cancelling is among the best you will find so it’s not surprising the company might want to save this for its top-flight headphones.

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So, when and how much?

There have been rumors that there will be an Apple special event this month. I don’t believe it. I would say April is a possibility, but not before then.

As for how much, my guess would be that while the price will be well south of AirPods Pro, there may be a price uptick compared to the current entry-level models. My guess, and it’s nothing more than that, is that we can expect AirPods 3 to cost $199 or a little more.

Only a few weeks to go, let’s hope.

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