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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Apple's upcoming "iPhone 12" may not come with EarPods included in the box, as a means of driving demand for the company's popular wireless AirPods which are sold separately, according to reputable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


Apple has included earbuds with the iPhone ever since the first model of the smartphone launched in 2007, in large part because the iPhone was pitched as a natural extension of the iPod - a music player that also made phone calls.

However, in a TF International Securities research note issued to investors today and seen by MacRumors, Kuo said he expects Apple to leave out the traditional wired earphones that come with iPhones, which will usher in strong demand for AirPods shipments this year.

In addition to the need for new iPhone users to supply their own earphones, Kuo expects an uptick in AirPods shipments to be driven by an end to AirPods inventory depletion by the second half of the year, coupled with the likelihood that Apple will offer a special AirPods promotion in late 2020.


In terms of this year, Kuo said that AirPods shipments are likely to be at their lowest ebb in the second quarter due to the impact of the global health crisis, with total shipments declining by 29 percent from the previous quarter to 17.2 million.

However, AirPods shipments will benefit from increasing demand beginning in the third quarter, coupled with continuing strong demand for AirPods Pro throughout the year buoyed by Apple's expected promotional offer in the second half of 2020. Overall, Kuo predicts shipments to grow from his original estimate of 80-90 million pairs to 93.8 million pairs.

In a previous note to investors, Kuo said Apple is working on third-generation AirPods that will go into mass production during the first half of 2021, although this new model will only have internal changes and there won't be a change in external design.

This information goes against rumors of an ?AirPods? update coming in 2020, and Kuo suggests no new ?AirPods? are coming until 2021. By contrast, leaker Jon Prosser recently said that third-generation ?AirPods? are ready to launch anytime.

Kuo acknowledges that the market is expecting a new ?AirPods? model in the second half of 2020, but he thinks this is more likely to be a new set of Beats instead of a new set of ?AirPods?, meaning "?AirPods Pro? Lite" rumors are actually referencing new headphones in the Beats lineup.

Article Link: Kuo: iPhone 12 May Not Come With EarPods in the Box, Apple to Introduce AirPods Promotion in Second Half of 2020
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macrumors 6502
Apr 3, 2011
Next step, no charger or cable included in the box.

I don’t know how to feel about this, if it leads to lower prices then sure. We can buy accessories separately for the reduction in cost of the phone if we need them. But we all know that won’t be the case.


macrumors newbie
May 20, 2020
Makes sense. I’ve had two iPhones since AirPods came out and never touched the included EarPods. May as well reduce that waste, and I’m sure the extra AirPod sales don’t hurt...

Also if the rumour of Apple removing the lightning port next year are accurate then it makes sense to wean people off wired headphones this year.

smoking monkey

macrumors 68020
Mar 5, 2008
The vast majority of people have headphones and having yet another pair is worthless, but some people will need them and it's just another cost to factor in. I'd imagine they won't lower the cost as a previous poster mentioned. It's also a way to push people to go wireless which is good for the majority of users (def not audiophiles!)


macrumors newbie
Feb 7, 2017
United Kingdom
Aren't mobile phones manufactures obliged to provide head phones with every device sold, according to the safe driving laws and regulations? I think in Europe that's the case.

I’d be interested to see where this came from (UK Based and havent had headphones from many manufacturers over the last couple of years)
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macrumors 603
Aug 19, 2017
I would say it's unseemly for a company positioning itself as an upmarket or premium brand to resort to nickel & diming, but that ship has already long since sailed... so why not, they've taken everything else out of their boxes! (before anyone says about e-waste, I'll accept they're taking that seriously when they stop wrapping the product and the box its in in non biodegradable plastic).

Do people spending $1000 on a phone not already have a pair of headphones?
Do Apple phones come with a standard audio jack to plug in your existing headphones?


macrumors 603
Aug 19, 2017
I can kind of understand some manufacturers skipping when they are using a mass adopted standard (USB-C), but Apple skipping these lightning headphones is ‘effectively’ forcing a sale from Apple if the user needs a wired pair.
This would be a more acceptable move if they still put the lightning to 3.5mm adapter in there so people have a recourse to use a pair of wired headphones from literally any other manufacturer with their new phone without having to fork over another $9 or more.

macrumors 6502a
May 4, 2011
Mumbai (India)
It looks like wrong move, but i guess people who would be buying pro version would be having AirPods already, they wouldn't need earpods and if its there they won't use it anyway. I had not used my earpods from iPhone 7plus and not using of iPhone 11, its there in the box brand new. I'm using my Airpods gen1, still.
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macrumors 65816
Oct 4, 2008
Apple have a lot of history in this type of thing. Anyone remember the iPods upto 2005? Came with carry case, sleeve, audio/video cable, dosck, charger, USB and firewire cables and headphones. These all started falling away until all that was left in the package was a USB cable.

I do think leaving out the AC adapter could be a good idea with shops offering one on request - that would cut down a lot of e-waste.


macrumors 6502a
May 18, 2012
Well, I do hope they don't discontinue the EarPods all together. For wired ones, I prefer them over other headphones, simply because of the fit.

If the message is that we don't want to charge you for something you might not use, because you already have a favourite earphones then two things need to happen - a) a reduction in cost (which I can't see happening. Are iPhones going to cost $970 now?) b) Inclusion of a 3.5mm-lightning connector (again unlikely, since they stopped shipping that earlier)


Sep 15, 2016
Berlin, Germany
This would be great because a device that does not include headphones (such as iPad) do not fall under the limited max. volume rule in the EU


macrumors member
Sep 29, 2017
Does anyone really think the product will be priced a cent less if Apple removes the Earpods? An item probably worth less than 1$ in material probably won't change the price of the whole set at all.

Anyways, I've not used the Earpods since my 4S many years ago, so for me they can drop that item out of the set.
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