Low-end AirPods rumor gains traction yet remains ‘lite’ on credible details

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They AirPods Pro fit in their case like nothing ever happened.
These AirPods Pro are full-strength.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Tossed into the swirl of rumors and reports about coronavirus and its impact on Apple production is an alleged new entry to the AirPods lineup called “AirPods Pro Lite.”

The quotes bookending the product name are because no one is sure what to make of what is essentially a rumor first reported by a Chinese website with a mixed record for accuracy.

In the last few days, reports have surfaced in DigiTimes of a second “lite” version supplier, giving further credence to the various reports.

DigiTimes, citing an unnamed supply chain source, said Universal Scientific Industrial is “likely to obtain system-in-package orders” for what would be a lower-cost version of the popular AirPods Pro. The USI name came up in a report earlier this week from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Though Kuo’s research report does not mention an “AirPods Pro Lite,” he predicted USI will get SiP orders for the AirPods series.

That is not a ton of information to rely on. But when DigiTimes is right, it’s usually because of its sources from the supply side. Kuo’s record at predicting Apple outcomes is widely respected and so the mention of USI is intriguing.

What to make of ‘AirPods Pro?’

DigiTimes is the only tech site reporting with seemingly some assurance on “AirPods Pro Lite.” Disappointingly, the publication does not offer a speck of specs.

That leaves the rest of us hopping on the bandwagon, albeit cautiously, to speculate about what “AirPods Pro Lite” might look like.

Earlier this year, Kuo mentioned a new wearable, quite possibly an over-the-ear wireless headphone, and there is a reference in iOS code to an upcoming Beats set. Benjamin Mayo, of 9to5Mac, wondered if DigiTimes might be referring to Powerbeat 4.

Joe Rossignol, of MacRumors, called “AirPods Pro Lite” an oxymoron.

“Pro Lite” just sounds like regular AirPods, but it has been speculated that perhaps Apple will release a less expensive version of the AirPods Pro with the same design and sound quality but without noise cancellation,” he wrote.

Perhaps more details will surface in the days to come. However, it is likely we will have to wait until Apple holds a 1Q2020 product launch, which is reportedly when we will see a new budget-friendly successor to the iPhone SE. Other new Apple products reportedly will arrive in the first quarter, too.

A cheaper iPhone is good bet. The only thing “Lite” about new AirPods is the reliability of the information.