Apple launched the AirPods 2 only a few months ago. Though its design was identical to the original AirPods, it featured a new H1 chip for better connectivity, Hey Siri support, a longer talk time, and an optional wireless charging case. It lacked waterproofing capabilities, which fans wanted on the AirPods. It looks like the next-gen AirPods will offer waterproofing as well as a new design. According to an industry analyst, the waterproof AirPods 3 could hit the store shelves by the end of this year.
Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives recently told investors (via Philip Elmer-DeWitt) that the waterproof AirPods 3 would launch by the end of this year. It’s quite unusual for Apple to refresh the same product twice in the same year. The AirPods 2 launched only in March this year. Industry experts believe the two versions would cater to different types of customers.
The first two generations of AirPods don’t have any IP rating for water resistance, though they can survive a certain degree of splashing and sweating. Apple’s rivals have already been offering premium wireless earbuds with waterproofing. The upcoming waterproof AirPods 3 will finally catch up with the competition.
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The analyst said Apple’s new earbuds will also feature design enhancements, without specifying. Rumors of waterproof AirPods have been circulating for more than a year.
In June 2018, Bloomberg contributor Mark Gurman said the Cupertino company was working on a pair of AirPods with water resistance and noise-cancellation technology. It corroborates with an earlier report from Taiwanese publication DigiTimes that the AirPods 3 would feature noise-cancellation and launch towards the end of 2019.
The third-generation AirPods could be more expensive than its predecessor, which starts at $159. Apple could price them between the AirPods 2 with Wireless Charging case, which costs $199 and PowerBeats Pro, which starts at $250 and offers nine hours of listening time.
Earlier this year, TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a research note that two new AirPods models would enter mass production between Q4, 2019 and Q1, 2020. At least one of the two models would have an “all-new form factor design” and of course a higher price than the existing model. According to Above Avalon, Apple could sell up to 40 million AirPods this year.
We expect the waterproof AirPods 3 to offer a stylish but not-so-sporty design. Mark Gurman of Bloomberg has said that Apple was also developing over-ear headphones that could launch in 2019. The over-ear headphones would feature noise-cancellation and “studio quality” audio experience.
The over-ear headphones were supposed to launch in 2018, but were delayed due to “developmental challenges.” They are expected to be Apple-branded “higher-end alternative” to Beats headphones. Ming-Chi Kuo has also told investors that the Apple-branded over-ear headphones with active noise-cancellation technology were in the works.
Though Apple remains a dominant player in the wireless earbuds segment, the market is getting fiercely competitive. A few days ago, Sony announced its new WF-1000XM3 wireless earbuds that will compete with the AirPods 2 and AirPods 3. Sony claims the WF-1000XM3 are the best noise-canceling wireless earbuds in the market right now. The company uses the new QN1e chip to block out the background noise.
Sony’s earbuds are also designed such that they block out the ambient noise. The Quick Attention feature allows you to listen to the noise instantly if you want. They work with Google Assistant, and can adjust the ambient noise settings depending on what you are doing and where you are.
The WF-1000XM3 costs $230 and offers up to 6 hours of playback time on a single charge. It comes with a quick charge technology that delivers up to 90 minutes of listening time in just 10 minutes of charging.