It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Apple looks set to launch the AirPods 3 alongside the iPhone 13 in September. It makes perfect sense for Apple to pair a new phone with a brand new update to the AirPods.
The AirPods do, honestly, need a bit of a refresh. Apple is always going to sell premium products at prices slightly above everyone else, but wireless earbuds are becoming an area of intense competition. With devices like the Google Pixel Buds A Series appearing at around $100 / £100 and countless other earbuds costing the same, or less, Apple has some work to do.
The rumour, which comes from DigiTimes, certainly suggests that the AirPods will appear in September thanks to supply chain movements. Key components used in the AirPods are being manufactured in small numbers now, and will scale up in the third quarter, the site said.
That’s not to say the existing AirPods are bad, they aren’t and they genuinely serve a good part of the market. They’re a convenience play, if you’re an iPhone user then connecting them is a totally seamless experience, and not fraught with Bluetooth pairing tedium that afflicts some other earbuds or headphones.
So what does Apple need to update? Well not including wireless charging on a £169 pair of earbuds just seems churlish. So with a bit of luck this will be a standard part of the AirPods 3. It might also be time for a minor cosmetic update. The current model hasn’t changed since their launch, and the shaft of the earbuds now feels a little too long, so perhaps an adjustment is needed there.
It seems unlikely that Apple would build in active noise cancelation to the new AirPods. To do so would eat into the AirPods Pro market a bit too much. It would be good to see Apple adjusting the audio quality of the AirPods 3. They aren’t at all bad currently, but there is loads of room for better quality and perhaps some sort of support for lossless audio, as Apple has moved in that direction with Apple Music.
That may end up being something that’s kept back for the AirPods Pro though, but a modest performance increase seems like a pretty reasonable ask for a fairly expensive set of earphones. We’d also love to see some silicone tips in this model, but leaked case images suggest that won’t be the case, although the style of the AirPods 3 does look a lot more like the AirPods Pro.