Apple AirPods 3 are coming as soon as this

March, according to a bunch of rumors. And now, we may have just sneaked a clue as to what they’ll look like and even what features may be on board.

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Previous suggestions have been that the next version of entry-level AirPods will look a lot like the current AirPods Pro. Now, a report from 52 Audio, a site which has had a decent but not perfect track record in the past, so take all this with a pinch of salt, has published what it claims are photos of the new AirPods.

They do indeed look very like AirPods Pro (which begs the question, will Apple change the look of the current Pro headphones in due course to differentiate between the two?), with shorter stems and a more bulbous earpiece. The rumored charging case will also be wider and more narrow than the current case on the AirPods, again matching the AirPods Pro case more closely, though not quite as wide as the Pro version.

What differentiates AirPods 3 from AirPods Pro seems to be the arrangement of vents designed to equalize pressure to permit them to be worn longer without discomfort.

What’s not quite clear is just what the ear tips will be like. The current AirPods Pro have silicone ear tips which create noise isolation, while regular AirPods do not. The images here show the purported AirPods 3 with no ear tips, but also suggest they will be supplied (they’re just not connected in the images).

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But the report also makes a surprising claim, that there will be an AirPods Pro audio feature introduced to AirPods 3.

That’s Spatial Audio. If you haven’t tried it on AirPods Pro or AirPods Max, it’s pretty dreamy. It means that with the right content, watching a movie or show on a compatible iPad or iPhone awards it cinema-like sound. Spatial audio comes with dynamic head tracking, so that when you turn your head to the left, say, the audio still sounds as though it’s locked to the phone or tablet. I’ve mentioned before that the first time I used it, I had to take my AirPods Pro off to check the sound was coming through them and not from the tablet speaker, so faithful was the effect.

As such, it seems surprising to me that such a brilliant, premium feature would come the entry-level version of AirPods. If true, the main difference between AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro would be the noise-canceling which the AirPods Pro offer.

New AirPods could be released as soon as March 2021, so there’s not long to wait, potentially. As well as design, there are plenty of other questions to be answered, from price to what they’ll be called. If the new ones are a direct replacement for current AirPods, I think that’s the name Apple will stick with. But if these headphones are to sit between AirPods Pro and current headphones, I’d expect something like AirPods Pro SE or AirPods Plus. But I think they will be a direct replacement.

Not long to wait, if March is correct, so please check back for more details as they appear.


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