Apple plans to debut two new AirPods models next year, including third-generation AirPods and second-generation AirPods Pro, says a new report from Bloomberg.
The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is working on two new models: third-generation entry-level AirPods and the second version of the AirPods Pro earbuds, according to people familiar with the plans.
The models will join other new Apple audio devices like the HomePod mini and upcoming over-ear headphones.
The report jibes with previous rumors we’ve seen about AirPods models. The report claims the new entry-level AirPods will have a form factor design similar to AirPods Pro, including the Pods shorter stem and replaceable ear tips. However, the new AirPods will not include the higher-end features of the latter earbuds, including noise cancellation. The new AirPods will likely have improved battery life.
Apple plans to make the second-generation AirPods Pro earbuds more compact by eliminating the short stem on the accessory, and is said to be testing a design with “a more rounded shape that fills more of a user’s ear.” Such a change would make the AirPods Pro resemble the earbud designs being offered by Samsung, Google, and Amazon.
The report says the integration of the AirPods Pro features, into a smaller casing has proven “challenging” during development, which “could result in a less ambitious design when the product is finalized.”
The report indicates that Apple is discussing launching the new low-end AirPods during the first half of next year and is also planning new wireless chips to power both models.
Apple is also reportedly considering debuting a new HomePod model that would sit in the spot between the original HomePod and the recently announced HomePod mini.
Beyond the new AirPods, Apple has also internally weighed a new HomePod that sits in size, price and sound quality between the original $299 HomePod and the $99 HomePod mini. It’s unclear if Apple will ultimately launch that product or just further cut the price of the higher-end version.
The smaller $99 HomePod mini was unveiled alongside the new iPhones earlier this month.
As for the much-rumored “AirPods Studio” headphones, Bloomberg says Apple still plans to announce the high-end noise-canceling over-ear headphones but has faced a number of development challenges over the past two years.
The headphones were due to go into production weeks ago, but that was pushed back due to problems with the headband, a person familiar with the matter said. That part was deemed too tight in some testing.
The company initially wanted to include large touch pads on the sides of the headphones, but reduced the size of those panels. Apple has also scaled back some of the interchangeable functionality of the headphones that were a hallmark of the initial concept. The latest version of the product is likely to lack a replaceable headband, but could still include interchangeable ear pads.
“AirPods Studio” are expected to be priced starting at $350 and to feature Active Noise Cancellation and a retro-style design that could involve both a premium model manufactured from high-quality materials, as well as a sport-oriented model made from light-weight materials.