New ‘AirPods 3’ photos hint at flat-sided stem changes

New photos purportedly of Apple’s next-gen “AirPods 3” release have surfaced in a report which also makes claims about a change to the way users can interact with the wireless earphones.

New 'AirPods 3' photo hints at flat-sided stem changes
New ‘AirPods 3’ photo hints at flat-sided stem changes

Malcolm Owen for AppleInsider:

The images published by 52Audio seem to correlate with existing rumors for the next version, which could be called the “AirPods 3” or the “AirPods Pro Lite.” This includes making the AirPods themselves smaller with a shorter stem, as well as adding silicone ear tips to the design.

While the ear tips would make the AirPods more comfortable to wear and provide a snug fit like the AirPods Pro, it may not be a sign of the inclusion of improved noise cancelation. Previous rumors have pointed to ANC being left out of the “AirPods Pro Lite,” with the product offering some of the Pro features, but not all of them.

A bigger change is related to the stem’s design change. A flat edge and a tweaked sensor array could allow Apple to introduce a more refined touch-based control system than the current tap-based control scheme.

MacDailyNews Note: Here’s another image from 52Audio:

Purported AirPods 3 (Image: 52 Audio)
Purported “AirPods 3” (Image: 52Audio

A little birdie tells us that DigiTimes‘ “AirPods Pro Lite” are actually AirPods (3rd gen.) which offer the new shorter-stem AirPods Pro design sans active noise cancellation. — MacDailyNews, March 5, 2020

Apple already sells AirPods Pro Lite. They’re called AirPods.MacDailyNews, February 12, 2020

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. So, this replaces current AirPods (lowest cost model)? Or are they an addition to lineup, with current AirPods staying around at new $99 price. I like the original non-snug long-stem less-expensive design 😉

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  3. I used used to think AirPods were a gimmick. Then I got a new iPhone the holidays and they came with free AirPods on promotion. I love them. I wish I had never opened them and I had sold them and I bought AirPod Pro instead. Because I love music and AirPods have me listening to music again. Don’t get me wrong, the sound quality is excellent. But from what I’ve read the Pros sound even better (d’uh) with better bass.
    I also love how I can connect them to my iPad and roam round my entire house and talk, listen to music and use hey Siri from anywhere.
    They really should find a way to make the battery replaceable though. That’s my only beef.

    1. I own all of the versions of AirPods. The original and the second (wireless charging) versions feel noticeably more comfortable than the Pro version, despite my installation of the smallest silicone tips. The Pros “feel” slightly bigger and I can’t wear them for very long. They do a great job with sound, of course, and the noise blocking is a delight. However, I almost always wear the first two editions for driving or other uses that last more than an hour or so. Anyone else have the same opinion?

      1. If I wear my AirPods Pro too long it causes pain to my tragus (nose-shaped protrusion above your ear canal) this didn’t happen with my original AirPods. I’ve only worn the mid-size ear tips that were installed, but I might try the smaller one at some point. Sound is definitely better but I find myself adjusting them more often since they are heavier so they tend to move more, getting them in and out of the case is somewhat annoying too. I got them because the battery in my AirPods started dying after about 3 years. No way Apple will make those tiny, glued-in batteries replaceable, even if they could it’s planned obsolescence that boosts their bottom line.

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