Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is back with a new investor note, and this time he sheds more light on the launch timeline for upgraded AirPods. New AirPods were largely expected to launch this fall, but Apple didn't mention them in both of its events this year. Now, TF International Securities analyst Kuo suggests that the new AirPods may finally arrive in early 2019, and they may support a new wireless charging case. Furthermore, a total redesign to AirPods is also coming in 2020.
9to5Mac got hold of Kuo's note, and it suggests that new AirPods are incoming in 2019 first quarter. These new earbuds will offer wireless charging support, which means that there may be a new case. The new case, according to Kuo, will sport a more expensive 'rigid flex board' internal component upgrade. The hinge of the case, used for opening and shutting the box, will also be revamped, to support thermal flow. Kuo notes that the component cost may rise by as much as 60 percent. This means that the new AirPods will be more expensive than the current generation ones.
However, Kuo suggests that the shipments of AirPods will continue to grow dramatically, with 16 million units in 2017 to 100 million by 2021. He also says that Apple users will prefer buying the new AirPods over upgrading to a new iPhone. Apart from the case, the new AirPods may see a minor upgrade with a Bluetooth spec improvement, among other minor updates. Kuo says that Apple may sell the case separately for existing AirPods users, while also sell the new AirPods with minor upgrades with the new case bundled in. A previous report states that AirPods 2 could bring in Bluetooth v5 connectivity. As mentioned, Kuo suggests that a total revamp to the AirPods will only come in 2020. He doesn't detail what these 2020 AirPods will feature though.
Previous reports also suggest that the next-generation AirPods will focus on health and fitness-related features. There may be "wellness sensors" to enable the transmission of "biometric data, heart rate, body movement, and calories burnt". It is also reported to bring biometric sensors to enable features such as heart-rate monitoring. Apple is apparently aiming to also build a close relationship between AirPods and Apple Watch with new integrated features.