AirPods 3: When will Apple release the new earbuds?

Apple may unveil its third-generation AirPods at WWDC. Here are all the rumors in one place.

Apple's developers conference WWDC is less than a week away and one of the products many of us are waiting for are the third-generation AirPods. A recent Bloomberg report says Apple is set to release the new AirPods sometime this year. Earlier leaks suggested that the AirPods 3 will share some features with the $249 AirPods Pro, including spatial audio support, a shorter stem, interchangeable tips and a smaller charging case. Leaked images seem to back up those rumors. Here's everything you need to know about the rumored AirPods 3.AirPods 3 may look more like the AirPods Pro

So far we've had two generations of regular AirPods, the wireless earbuds with the long stem that sticks down from your ear. But a February leak from 52audio claims to show the third-generation earbuds with a shorter stem, so overall the design looks more like the AirPods Pro.


The leaked image claiming to be AirPods 3.

The AirPods 3 might also borrow the interchangeable eartip design from the AirPods Pro to provide a more snug fit in the ear than the current AirPods, which simply rest in your ear. Some wearers found the regular AirPods would fall out easily while moving around or running, so tips can help provide a more secure fit. While the AirPods Pro have clickable stems, the AirPods 3 may have touch surfaces for interacting with the earbuds.

Twitter user LeaksApplePro posted the image below, which apparently shows the AirPods 3 in the real world. They look similar to the image shared by 52audio that show the earbuds with shorter stems.

An earlier report from Bloomberg also said that the AirPods 3 may share a similar design to the AirPods Pro, adding that the entry-level AirPods would miss out on active noise cancelation. So far, it's unclear whether the AirPods 3 would have transparency mode, a way to pipe in external sounds to make you more aware of your surroundings.

Will AirPods 3 also come with spatial audio support?

That's the rumor. First introduced with the release of iOS 14 on the AirPods Pro and later the AirPods Max headphones, spatial audio uses accelerometers and gyroscopes to give a virtual surround sound effect when watching supported movies, TV shows and music on an iPhone or iPad.

The 52audio report suggests battery life would stay the same as the current second-generation AirPods, lasting around five hours in total. The case would hold additional charge, just like it does now. In the leaked images, the case looks like it splits the difference between the more square AirPods and rectangular AirPods Pro cases.


The original AirPods design.

As for the sound quality there's no clear detail yet on what to expect, although it's likely that there would be improvements in fidelity over the regular AirPods. TF International Securities research analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a strong track record in Apple rumors over the years, released a note back in July claiming that the AirPods 3 would feature a similar system-in-package to the AirPods Pro, which means it's likely audio quality would be comparable.

It's also safe to assume that other AirPods and AirPods Pro features like quick switching will also come to the AirPods 3.

Will AirPods 3 be released at WWDC?

Apple hasn't officially announced any launch event or dates for the new AirPods yet. The AirPods Pro and AirPods Max were both announced in press releases, so it wouldn't be too much of a surprise if Apple did the same with the AirPods 3. But with Apple's developers conference WWDC just around the corner, we might see them announced on June 7. Alternatively, we might get the Beats Studio Buds, wireless earbuds that basketball star LeBron James may have posted on Instagram before their official release.

It makes sense for AirPods 3 to debut at the same $159 price as the current AirPods. But it's unclear if there will be a $199 wireless charging case version as well, or if that case would be the standard option.