With a March Apple event expect to be announced soon – rumoured to be on the 23rd, though that hasn't been confirmed yet – we're expecting to see a new iPad Pro imminently, and until recently had been anticipating both new MacBook Pros and AirPods 3 to be revealed as well.
However, hot of the heels of reports that the new MacBook Pros won't go into production until later in 2021 comes word that the same is true for AirPods 3. A report from analyst big-timer Ming-Chi Kuo , seen by MacRumors (opens in new tab), says that AirPods 3 won't enter mass production until Q3 of 2021, which means somewhere between July and September.
It's no surprise that Christmas is a key time for AirPods (and the very first pair launched in mid-December), so that time-scale makes perfect sense overall. We might even see them announced alongside the iPhone 13, which would make a hard-to-resist bundle for a lot of people.
AirPods 2nd gen were released in March 2019, which made the previous rumours of the next model getting a spring release seem perfectly plausible. AirPods 2 were a much smaller upgrade, though, with no audio or major design changes.
With the design of AirPods 3 an open secret at this point following continued image leaks, Apple may see this is a bigger deal than AirPods 2, and would prefer a close-to-Christmas buying frenzy. In which case, expect them to be tough to get hold of when the time comes.
With so many images of seemingly finished AirPods 3 units around, it's a little surprising that they're not ready to launch yet, and perhaps Kuo will turn out to be incorrect, of course.
Whenever AirPods 3 do appear, we expect them to be a big seller when it comes to the best wireless earbuds, though the rumours say they'll have a higher starting price than current AirPods models. With Apple having just discontinued the high-priced HomePod, and with the very premium priced AirPods Max selling fairly low numbers compared to other AirPods models, we hope Apple doesn't miss the mark on the price.
Perhaps current AirPods models will stick around with a price drop too – they're already available for well below asking price regularly, as are AirPods Pro. You can find the current lowest prices for both below, in case you just can't wait to see what happens with the new version.