Update: LeaksApplePro has now shared images of supposed real AirPods 3 earbuds and charging case. Assuming these are legitimate photos, we should expect to see them launch for real very soon.

We’re expecting Apple to launch a new design of its entry-level AirPods before long, and what are claimed to be renders of “AirPods 3” have been shared today.

The design of the non-Pro AirPods has remained unchanged since their launch back in 2016, but it’s by now clear that this is set to change this year …

Background

Apple first launched AirPods in December 2016, and the distinctive design quickly became a ubiquitous sight throughout the world. The long stem was one of the design elements thtat made them so instantly recognizable.

A 2nd-gen model was released in 2019, adding wireless charging and Hey Siri support, but the design remained unchanged. Later that same year, Apple added AirPods Pro to the range, with Active Noise Cancellation.

AirPods Pro, also launched in 2019, were easily distinguished from the earlier models thanks to shorter stems, and it is this design that is expected to transition to the next release of the standard AirPods. This was first reported by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and later echoed by Bloomberg.

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.

AirPods 3 photos?

Photos shared by LeaksApplePro appear to depict the actual AirPods 3.

AirPods 3 design and visuals

We got our first claimed look at the AirPods 3 design last month, and new renders have been shared today by GizmoChina.

Ahead of the launch, we have got our hands on a new set of AirPods 3 renders from suppliers. The design showcased in the renders is likely the final version which will be released in the market for everyone to purchase.

The design is pretty much in line with the previous render leaks, resembling the design of the AirPods Pro. It appears that the AirPods 3 will have a shorter stem and come with replaceable ear tips, similar to what we have seen with the company’s AirPods Pro.

But as AirPods mimic the design of AirPods Pro, we’re expecting a redesign of the latter, with reports suggesting Apple may eliminate the stem altogether. The report does, however, caution that this is not yet certain.

Not everyone will be happy with the AirPods 3 design. A reader poll found that more than 40% of you prefer the existing design to that of the current Pro, and my colleague José Adorno said that he finds the Pro design less comfortable.

We may not have long to wait. If rumors of an Apple event on March 23 are correct, that would be a likely time to launch them.

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