TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has released an update on AirPods 3, hinting at launch timeline and possible design. The analyst suggests that the earbuds will be launched in the first half of 2021. To recall, the second-gen AirPods were launched in March 2019, and the company doesn't plan to launch an upgrade in 2020. Apple did reveal the AirPods Pro last October, and if this note holds any weight, the company looks at the AirPods Pro and AirPods 2 to drive sales for its hearables segment in 2020.
Kuo's latest info was accessed by 9to5Mac, and apart from revealing the approximate launch timeline, the analyst also notes that the AirPods 3 design will be similar to that of the AirPods Pro. The AirPods Pro has more traditional in-canal fit with rubber ear tips, instead of the outer-ear fit seen on the AirPods (2nd Gen). The AirPods 3, according to Kuo, is said to adopt the AirPods Pro design, and ditch the design seen on the original AirPods and the second-gen AirPods both. With this, Apple would look to shift the non-Pro range to the in-ear design, something that doesn't seem right, given that the AirPods Pro and AirPods (2nd Gen) key differentiating factor is the design.
Kuo notes that the AirPods 3 will replace the AirPods (2nd gen) in the first half of 2021, which means that it will continue to sell AirPods Pro and AirPods (2nd Gen) through the holiday season this year. Kuo also reiterates that Apple will stop shipping wireless earbuds with the iPhone 12 to drive more AirPods sale this year. He notes that while AirPods sales slumped in the second quarter of 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis, he believes that things will improve through the end of the year.
The second-gen AirPods came with Qi wireless charging support and Hey Siri voice activation. The AirPods Pro saw a radically different design form and brought along active noise cancellation as well. In the past, Kuo suggested that an upgrade to the AirPods Pro will not come until 2022.
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