Why Apple pushed back AirPods Studio debut; new AirPods and AirPods Pro on the way

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Apple has big plans for the AirPods lineup.
Apple has big plans for the AirPods lineup.
Photo: Omid Armin/Unsplash CC

Apple is currently working on updates for its entry-level AirPods and AirPods Pro, which could debut in 2021, Bloomberg reported Monday.

The story also sheds light on the reason for Apple delaying release of its over-the-ear AirPods Studio headphones.

The updated entry-level AirPods, the third generation since the product’s 2016 debut, reportedly will bring an AirPods Pro-style redesign. They will offer better battery life than the current models. However, they will not come with the AirPods Pro’s noise-canceling tech.

Meanwhile, the upcoming AirPods Pro redesign might eliminate the earbuds’ short stem, with a rounded design that more thoroughly fills wearers’ ears. But Bloomberg notes that:

“Integrating noise-cancellation, wireless antennas and microphones into a smaller AirPods Pro casing has proved challenging during development, which could result in a less ambitious design when the product is finalized, the people said. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.”

The new, low-end AirPods could arrive in the first half of 2021. There’s no word on exactly when the new AirPods Pro will arrive. The basic AirPods were last updated in March 2019. Apple released AirPods Pro at the end of October 2019.

Other new products on the way

Apple is also rumored to be working on AirPods Studio, the first line of over-the-ear headphones sold under the Apple brand. These would offer AirPods technology in a design more reminiscent of Beats’ line of headphones. They could cost up to $599 for the premium edition. Meanwhile, a sportier variant could sell for $350. According to Apple leaker Jon Prosser, Apple delayed the headphones to March 2021 due to a “major hiccup in AirPods Studio production.”

Bloomberg says Apple pushed back the AirPods Studio launch due to problems with the headband being too tight. Originally, the headphones were set to include replaceable headbands like the switchable straps on Apple Watch. However, this is no longer likely to make it into the launch version. Replaceable ear pads remain a possibility.

The other interesting tidbit from Bloomberg‘s report is the mention of another new HomePod smart speaker. This could sit between the $99 HomePod mini and the $299 HomePod. Alternatively, the report notes that Apple might opt for simply reducing the cost of its $299 speaker.

Source: Bloomberg