Apple AirPods 3 design: pro packaging
With shorter stems, silicone ear tips and black mesh vents, the AirPods Pro clearly set themselves apart from Apple’s standard AirPods. That distinction looks likely to narrow with the arrival of the AirPods 3.
Various rumours and leaked renders reveal that the third-gen AirPods will closely ape the design of the AirPods Pro. How closely remains a matter for conjecture. Most online sources agree that the incoming AirPods will ship with shorter stems, giving them a neater, more streamlined appearance. Some industry insiders also predict that the AirPods 3 will gain the vents required for the pressure-relieving system previously seen on the AirPods Pro (see below).
There’s less agreement over ear tips. The silicone attachments contribute to better noise isolation, plus a more secure, comfortable fit. They made a big difference to the listening experience on the AirPods Pro and would be a welcome addition to the AirPods 3. Realistically, though, fitting ear tips to the standard AirPods would cut out a key selling point of the Pro variant – something Apple will probably want to avoid.
So while renders leaked online show versions of the AirPods 3 both with and without ear tips, we’d expect to see Apple’s new wireless in-ears ship with no silicone tips. That would make the AirPods 3 something of a hybrid set of headphones, with a stem and shell inspired by the Pro, but the same fixed fit as the first two iterations of the AirPods.
And those same leaks point to a similar situation with the third-gen AirPods charging case. Its dimensions look set to sit somewhere between the taller rectangle used by the second-gen AirPods and the shorter, rounded square which stores the Pro version. It’s tricky to assess size based on virtual mock-ups, but there are hints that the AirPods 3 will ship in Apple’s most compact charging case to date.
Some sources suggest that the updated case will also work with MagSafe. While Apple’s magnetic docks currently support Qi wireless charging, they don’t hold AirPods holsters in place while they power up. Magnets in the case could change this, allowing you to stick it to the pad like the iPhone 12 (and incoming iPhone 13). That said, the presence of magnets might alternatively – or additionally – mean you can to attach the case to the back of compatible iPhone models magnetically, for a neat ‘phone on phone combo. This stick-on solution could well be offered as an upgrade or sold-separately accessory.
How much of this is true – and what impact it could have on cell capacity – remains to be seen. We’d certainly hope to see a beefier backup battery for the new AirPods: the current generation extends the AirPods by just 24 hours. While this isn’t terrible, it appears paltry in comparison to several competitors. The case which accompanies Cambridge Audio’s excellent Melomania 1 wireless in-ears, for example, can deliver an additional 36 hours of charge. And those now cost just £100. Luckily, the latest leaks hint at a 20% capacity boost – plus wireless charging as standard.
Image source: 52 Audio
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