Home >Technology >Gadgets >Apple planning to develop smaller AirPods Pro, revamp entry-level models as well: Report
(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

Apple planning to develop smaller AirPods Pro, revamp entry-level models as well: Report

  • The design of the updated AirPods will be similar to the current AirPods Pro, gaining a shorter stem and replaceable ear tips, suggest a report
  • For the new AirPods Pro, Apple is aiming to make the earbuds more compact by eliminating the short stem that currently sticks out from the bottom

Apple is planning to upgrade its AirPods models, both Pro and entry-level for launch next year, in a move to capitalize on the success of a product that has become an important source of growth, according to a report.

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is working on two new models: third-generation entry-level AirPods and the second version of the AirPods Pro earbuds, according to people familiar with the plans, reported Bloomberg.

According to the report, "the models will join other new Apple audio devices like the HomePod mini" and the upcoming over-ear headphones, the AirPods Studio, which are expected to launch towards the end of this year.

Bloomberg also says that the design of the updated entry-level AirPods will be similar to the current AirPods Pro, gaining a shorter stem and replaceable ear tips. Apple is also looking to improve battery life. That model however will not have higher-end AirPods Pro features like noise-cancellation, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters.

For the new AirPods Pro, Apple is aiming to make the earbuds more compact by eliminating the short stem that currently sticks out from the bottom. A design in testing has a more rounded shape that fills more of a user’s a ear -- similar to the latest designs from Samsung Electronics Co., Amazon.com Inc. and Google.

Integrating noise-cancellation, wireless antennas and microphones into a smaller AirPods Pro casing has proved challenging during development, which could result in a less ambitious design when the product is finalized, the people said. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment, Bloomberg said.

Apple has internally discussed launching the new low-end AirPods during the first half of next year. The company is also planning new wireless chips to power both models. Luxshare Precision Industry Co. and Goertek Inc. are expected to handle most of the production for the new earbuds.

The AirPods have come to define the true wireless (TWS) earphones category, with Apple accounting for nearly half of all sales in 2019 and expected to grow to 82 million units this year, according to Counterpoint Research data. More affordable alternatives from Chinese rivals, however, have eroded Apple’s lead and the Silicon Valley company now finds itself with just over a third of the market, at 35%, followed by Xiaomi Corp. with 10% and Samsung Electronics Co. on 6%, according to the researchers.

The earbuds may get a new sales boost soon because Apple stopped including headphones with new iPhones.

The success has attracted rivals such as China’s Xiaomi Corp. that offer more affordable options.

In February 2020, another report suggested that Apple is also working on a new model of the AirPods. According to a report posted by DigiTimes, the Cupertino-based company may be working on a so-called "AirPod Pro Lite" headphones model among other products.

Beyond the new AirPods, Apple has also internally weighed a new HomePod that sits in size, price and sound quality between the original $299 HomePod and the $99 HomePod mini. It’s unclear if Apple will ultimately launch that product or just further cut the price of the higher-end version.

Apple is still planning to announce high-end, noise-canceling over-ear headphones. The device has faced several development challenges over the past two years and has been delayed multiple times.

The headphones were due to go into production weeks ago, but that was pushed back due to problems with the headband, a person familiar with the matter said. That part was deemed too tight in some testing.

The company initially wanted to include large touch pads on the sides of the headphones, but reduced the size of those panels. Apple has also scaled back some of the interchangeable functionality of the headphones that were a hallmark of the initial concept. The latest version of the product is likely to lack a replaceable headband, but could still include interchangeable ear pads.

Apple currently sells entry-level AirPods for $159 in US (starting at 14,900 in India) and the AirPods Pro at $249 in the US (at 24,900 in India). The original AirPods launched in 2016 and were last updated in March 2019. The AirPods Pro came out in October last year.

Meanwhile, Apple online store in India is also offering the AirPods free of charge with the purchase of iPhone 11 models amid the festive season. The offer started from 17th October.

With agency inputs

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