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AirPods 3: What you need on Apple’s next true wireless earbuds

Recent reports has suggested that an updated Airpods 3 model is in the works, but when will we see them? 

You can never quite guess with Apple when it comes to release dates. The announcement of the AirPods (2019) took everyone by surprise. But recent news indicates that unless Apple pull something of a surprise at their WWDC keynote, we won’t be seeing a new generation of AirPods until 2021.

We’ve also heard reports that the design could be getting a change too. And while that purported release date does appear to be a way off, that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate, or list items we’d like to see from the next AirPods.

With that in mind, here’s what we know and would like to see from an AirPods 3.

Related: What we know about the Apple AirPod Pro 2

When will the AirPods 3 be released?

YouTuber John Prosser tweeted the 3rd-gen model were meant to be shown at the cancelled March event. Despite no word since then, he’s still circulating the idea that the AirPods 3 are going to launch sooner rather than later.

However, the very reliable Ming-Chi Kuo has poured cold water on this. He indicated in a report that Apple will continue to sell the current model to retailers for the rest of 2020, with the new AirPods 3 model 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, so we’d expect the AirPods 3 to incur a similar price, with the 2nd gen AirPods dropping in price to make way.

With the AirPods Pro priced at £249 price point, it’d make sense if any new true wireless model sat at the £200 price mark or less. Any higher and it’d be intruding on the premium price of the Pro version.

Related: Best headphone deals

What will the the AirPods 3 look like?

The AirPods’ design has proved popular, but according to Ming-Chi Kuo, we could be seeing a change for the AirPods 3.

Rather than look like the first- and second-gen AirPods, the AirPods 3 will apparently have a similar form factor to the AirPods Pro.

Kuo didn’t go into further details but if true, it would that Apple is leaving behind a design that has been quite a big factor in its popularity. Perhaps Apple has finally seen the light…

If Apple is changing the design then we’d also like to have the choice of different finishes. A white finish picks up dirt more easily, and considering Apple’s history of special finishes, it’s a surprise the AirPods have only come in plain white so far.

Related: AirPods Studio − everything we know

What features will the AirPods 3 have?

Could we see biometric sensing in the new AirPods? There have been suggestions that the next-gen model could be getting a more powerful internal chip, and perhaps that will facilitate the health features we’ve been hearing about for what feels like years.

We’d  also like to see battery life improved to match competing sets, as while five hours is fine, other true wireless pairs are reaching nearly ten hours.

There have also been 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”. It’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, using the H1 chip, and then transmitted to a speaker.

File this under ‘interesting, but unlikely’ This is a rather old patent, and if Apple were to delve further down this route, we imagine rumours and leaks would be springing out more often. Nonetheless, it serves up an interesting path as to where future AirPods, like the AirPods 3, could go.

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