To see the huge impact of Apple’s AirPods, you only need to take a walk down the street: everywhere you look, you’ll likely see people with these slim, white earbuds in their ears. (Which might be third-party lookalikes – but they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.) Apple’s first set of AirPods were released back in 2016, followed by the AirPods 2 in 2019.
As you can read in our in-depth Apple AirPods review, though these iconic little devices aren’t without their flaws, our experts loved their comfortable fit, along with the highly smooth and intuitive connection that they offer – unsurprisingly – for iOS users. That’s why we’re very excited to see what developments and upgrades will be in store for what we’re calling the AirPods 3 – although that’s not the official name.
Unfortunately for avid fans, AirPods were absent from the list of products at Apple’s recent Spring Loaded event. We did, however, get treated to plenty of other product updates, from a new iMac to a powerful new iPad Pro and the competitively priced AirTags.
Read on for all we know about Apple’s AirPods 3 so far, from price to specs.
Missed the event? Head over to our Apple Spring Loaded summary for the updates as they happened.
AirPods 3 release date
We’ll hold our hands up and admit it; we’re disappointed. We had our money on the AirPods 3 being a major talking point during the ‘Spring Loaded’ event, even if their launch date was a few months away.
But unfortunately, a leaked investor’s note that had been doing the rounds on the World Wide Web and stated that AirPods 3 production wouldn’t start until the third quarter of the year seems to be right.
Now we expect the AirPods 3 to be released in tandem with the latest iPhone – after all, both devices are a natural fit for each other. To find out more about Apple’s next flagship handset (also missing from the Spring Loaded event), head to our iPhone 13 release date article.
AirPods 3 price: tipped to be cheaper than the AirPods Pro
Again, Apple has yet to say anything definitive about the pricing of the newest AirPods. So let’s look at how much their predecessors cost. Upon their release, the AirPods 2 cost £199 with a wireless charging case and £159 with a wired charging case.
We have a hunch that the AirPods 3 won’t offer the two separate options – Apple instead will only put out the wireless case option this time. One thing we feel very confident about, though, is that the latest true wireless AirPods won’t cost anywhere near that of the AirPods Pro, which boast noise-cancelling tech but come with the eyewatering RRP of £249 (although you’ll find them currently on offer at Amazon).
If you’re hoping that older models will soon see discounts, check out our AirPods reviews before investing:
AirPods 3 specs: what to expect
In March 2021, an Apple leaks Twitter account published an image of what certainly could be the AirPods 3. But as the whole world should know by now, it’s not a good idea to believe everything you see or read on the Internet. But if these are indeed the latest earbuds from Apple, we can see that they don’t make use of the silicon eartips that were incorporated into the AirPods Pro.
In a similar vein, Gizmo China released an image that appears to be a 3D rendering of the AirPods 3, which suggest much the same. So if we were pushed to make a prediction, it’s this: we’re doubtful that the AirPods 3 will incorporate the ANC tech that defined the Airpods Pro.
This is a shame: of course, we’d love to see the new AirPods sport some noise-cancelling tech – but it feels like a long shot, given the substantial price difference that puts the AirPods Pro in a class of their own. ANC earbuds are not something that everybody needs (or are prepared to pay for), so it seems likely that Apple will continue to offer two classes of earbuds with its next releases.
We suspect there’ll be other internal upgrades, though, in the form of a new internal processor. The AirPods 2 featured the H1 chip that was a marked upgrade on the W1 of the first set. That was two years ago, and Apple has had plenty of time two develop a processor which will ultimately offer a far smoother performance – well, for iOS users at least.
Solid info is thin right now, but we’re keeping an ear to the ground and will continue to update this page when more details about the AirPods 3 come in.
Catch up with our Apple Spring Loaded event summary to find out more about what the brand has in store for 2021.