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AirPods 3: What we know about Apple’s wireless earbuds

It’s pretty much certain than an Airpods 3 model is in the works, but as always with Apple, there are conflicting reports as to when they’ll appear.

The latest news is that it’s unlikely we’ll see the next wireless earbud land in 2020. It’s more than likely that the 3rd generation of AirPods won’t be seen until 2021.

Here’s what we know about the AirPods 3.

Related: What we know about the Apple AirPod Pro 2

When will the AirPods 3 be released?

John Prosser tweeted the 3rd-gen model was meant to be revealed earlier in 2020. We’re in September and there’s still no sign of them.

That’s because reports indicate the next-gen AirPods model is unlikely to go on sale this year. Ming-Chi Kuo indicated that Apple will sell the current model for the rest of 2020, and the new AirPods 3 model are set to go into mass production in the first-half of 2021.

Related: Best wireless earbuds

How much will the AirPods 3 cost?

The 2nd-gen AirPods (with wireless case) were £199/$199. We’d surmise that the AirPods 3 (whenever they go on sale) will be priced the same with the 2nd-gen either being removed from sale and dropping in price.

Related: Best headphone deals

What will the the new AirPods look like?

According to Ming-Chi Kuo, the AirPods 3 could have a different design than previous versions.

Kuo believes that the AirPods 3 will have a similar form factor to the AirPods Pro. Kuo didn’t go into further details but it’s a change we’d welcome, since we don’t love the droopy look. We can of course speculate as to the design, which could include actual ear-tips and shorter stem for a better fit.

Apple hasn’t tested the waters with different colours. A white finish picks up dirt more easily, and different colourways would avoid this, plus add a sense of personalisation to the AirPods 3 as well.

Related: AirPods Studio − everything we know

What features will the AirPods 3 have?

According to Ming-Chi Kuo (him again), the AirPods 3 adopting the AirPods Pro’s s SiP technology. SiP stands for system-in-package chip solution, and this could mean the circuit componentry to take up less place for more features to be crammed in.

Patently Apple noticed the Cupertino company was granted a patent that revolves around the sensors on an AirPod will gather information about orientation and measurements from the accelerometer. According to Patently Apple, information from the AirPod will be used in conjunction with an iPhone to supply “the user with coaching and feedback while evaluating user performance of a head movement routine or other exercise routine.” One scenario for this use would be striking a yoga pose.

We’ve also been hearing about other features such as ambient light sensors that could provide biometric feedback.  This is another feature that would factor into the health-related features that have been circulating the AirPods for a number of years now.

There have been long-standing rumours that Apple has looked at integrating a speaker connection into future AirPods’ charging cases. A patent from 2017 details a charging case for a wireless listening device such as “a pair of wireless earbuds”, that’s configured to “transmit the media to a non-wireless output device connected to the case.”

From the illustration included with the patent (below), it looks like a speaker dock, with the AirPods slotting on top.

Apple’s patent illustration, as filed with USPTO

The case detailed could allow for music to be streamed wirelessly to the AirPods and transmitted to a speaker.

File this under ‘interesting, but unlikely’ as this is a rather old patent and it would seem Apple is not venturing down this route. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting look as to how Apple could expand the functionality of future AirPods, like the AirPods 3.

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