With a rumoured Apple event just around the corner, there’s more speculation than ever around the AirPods 3. Rumours at the start of the year also pointed towards Apple’s potential plans to release an updated pair of the company’s flagship earphones.
As with any new generation of earphones, we can expect to see a number of new features alongside general improvements and fixes. The last generation of AirPods introduced Siri integration, a new H1 chip and an optional wireless charging case. In terms of technological leaps, the AirPods 2 brought a number of major features to the table, but can the AirPods 3 match such a jump?
While everything is purely speculation, there are plenty of rumours circulating around the types of features we can expect, the price, and most importantly, the release date.
One of the biggest rumoured features is the introduction of ambient light sensors. With these sensors, the AirPods 3 could measure basic fitness statistics and other health conditions. Health tracking is already a major element of Apple’s product offering with the Apple Watch and the iPhone already providing a selection of fitness and health applications. The addition of enhanced fitness measuring would make sense, based on Apple's previous focus on health.
The AirPods Pro’s interchangeable tips are rumoured to feature on the AirPods 3. The previous AirPods had a universal fit which sits in the ear, rather than creating a seal inside the eardrum. The tips create a better fit, securing the AirPods while providing a better quality of sound as well. With the AirPods 3 supposedly including numerous features taken from the AirPods Pro, it’s pretty likely this is going to be one of them.
The air pressure relief feature in the AirPods Pro will supposedly appear in the AirPods 3. A small vent in the AirPods Pro stops the feeling of pressure that earbuds can create. This is potentially a big win for those who like to use their AirPods over long periods of time.
Spatial Audio will also reportedly feature in the Airpods 3. The clever audio feature uses the built-in accelerometers and gyroscopes in AirPods to create 3D sound that actually tracks to the position of your head. This means that content optimised for surround sound will move with your head, creating an immersive audio experience while watching television and films.
Outside of big features, the AirPods 3 will probably receive a number of smaller improvements. Apple is supposedly going to increase battery life, raising it from the current 24 hours provided by the case and AirPods themselves. There will also likely be several smaller improvements to connectivity, latency, gesture controls and general functionality.
The AirPods 3 could also inherit the improved water resistance of the AirPods Pro, an upgrade which would improve day-to-day resistance. The AirPods 3 will likely have an IPX4 rating, although if Apple really wanted to push the boat out, it might aim for IPX5. This higher rating would make the the earphones resistant to sustained, low-pressure water jet spray.
There are some features which the AirPods 3 could take directly from the AirPods Pro, such as active noise-cancellation and social mode, which enables users to better hear their surroundings. It’s difficult to say which features will make their way into the new AirPods though, as Apple may want to keep those exclusive to the more premium AirPods Pro.
Price is always a worry with any new Apple product, as the company isn’t shy about charging a premium price compared to the competition. The AirPods 3 are rumoured to cost roughly the same as previous iterations, although it’s not known if the release will include a version without the wireless charging case. Here’s a rough estimation of what we can expect the price to be:
£159 without wireless charging case
£199 with wireless charging case
This would make the AirPods 3 cheaper than the AirPods Pro and the AirPods Max, which is why it’s unlikely we’ll see some of those premium features we previously mentioned.
Apple Analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo predicted last year that the AirPods 3 would go into mass production in the early half of 2021. Couple this rumour with the reports of an event taking place in the next few weeks and it’s likely that Apple fans could see the new AirPods 3 release as soon as April.
Apple will probably want to start 2021 with a bang, and what better way is there to do that than with the release of the AirPods 3.