According to China Economic Daily, Apple’s third-generation AirPods will adopt a new in-ear design to support the new noise-canceling feature and enhance the listening experience. The paper claims the “Pro” suffix, which Apple recently adopted for its most expensive iPhone 11 models, will help to differentiate the new wireless earbuds from Apple’s existing AirPods and underscores the marketing rationale justifying the higher $260 price tag.
According to a separate report on Friday from the same Chinese-language financial media outlet, the AirPods Pro will also feature a new metal design that increases heat dissipation. Apple AirPods supplier Inventec is said to be cooperating with Chinese manufacturer Lixun to undertake the new orders.
In April, noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said two new AirPods models would likely go into mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, with Luxshare, Goertek, and Amkor serving as primary suppliers.
Kuo also claimed one of the new AirPods models will feature an “all-new form factor design” and a “higher price” than the second-generation AirPods, which cost $159 with a standard charging case and $199 with a wireless charging case. The other model is expected to be a more iterative update with the same pricing, although it’s unclear what any new features would be.
Previously, the AirPods expected to launch later this year were thought to be the more iterative pair that Kuo refers to. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said he expects the higher-priced AirPods with water resistance and noise cancelation to launch as early as 2020. However, today’s report suggests they could come sooner.
According to industry sources previously cited by DigiTimes, Apple’s suppliers are gearing up to assemble the next-generation AirPods as early as October, suggesting an updated version of the earphones could arrive in time for the holiday shopping season.
In the beta version of iOS 13.2 there’s an icon showing redesigned AirPods that appear to have rubber ear tips that would likely be needed as part of a noise cancelation feature. The image is contained in the Accessibility Settings folder, suggesting the new AirPods will contain a new accessibility feature such as being able to use them as hearing aids, or it could be related to existing Live Listen capabilities.
No specific date has been given for when the new AirPods could debut, but Apple has a number of rumored pending announcements that could point toward an October media event.