When to Expect New AirPods, Including Rumored 'Studio' and 'X' Models

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Rumors suggest that Apple plans to expand its AirPods lineup with two new models later this year, including high-end, over-ear "AirPods Studio" and in-ear "AirPods X" with a BeatsX-like design for running and exercising. This would be followed by refreshes to both the regular AirPods and the AirPods Pro in 2021.


Here is where rumors stand:
  • AirPods Studio -- Summer or Fall 2020: Apple plans to release high-end over-ear headphones with noise cancellation this year, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that mass production of the headphones will begin in mid 2020, with shipments to Apple reportedly set to begin in June or July. The headphones will be named AirPods Studio and retail for $349, according to Jon Prosser, host of the YouTube channel Front Page Tech. Prosser said the headphones could be announced at WWDC 2020, which kicks off June 22.
    AirPods X -- Fall 2020: Last month, Prosser claimed that Apple was planning to release so-called "AirPods X" around September or October with a BeatsX-like design for running and exercising. Kuo acknowledged this rumor, noting that any new AirPods model coming in the second half of 2020 is "more likely to be the new Beats model."
    AirPods -- Spring 2021: Third-generation AirPods will enter mass production in the first half of 2021, according to Kuo, suggesting that the regular AirPods will not be refreshed until next year. Kuo expects internal design changes, but he did not indicate if there will be any external changes. The original AirPods launched in December 2016, followed by a second-generation refresh in March 2019.
  • AirPods Pro -- Fall 2021: Second-generation AirPods Pro will enter mass production between the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, according to Kuo, suggesting that a refresh is well over a year away. No further details are known. The current AirPods Pro launched at the end of October 2019.
Keep track of our various AirPods roundups linked below for the latest rumors.

Article Link: When to Expect New AirPods, Including Rumored 'Studio' and 'X' Models
 

4jasontv

macrumors 68020
Jul 31, 2011
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Remember when Steve returned to Apple and he discontinued the Performa and all the other distracting options.

It was so wonderful. He drew a + and labeled Portable and Stationary vs Pro and Consumer. One product each.

If all these products were to launch, which one would I get my mother?
 

FSMBP

macrumors 68030
Jan 22, 2009
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Apple sure likes complicating product lines nowadays. Reminds me of 2012, there was one new iPhone and Samsung had like 12 new phones; makes it confusing for customers and shows lack of vision.

But, obviously Apple knows what they're doing. Just wish they would simplify and devote time to really makes a few products amazing, rather than spread themselves thin.
 

rp2011

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Oct 12, 2010
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I agree that there are too many very similar items in the same categories. Now if all of them were unique, or an older model discounted, that would be different story.
It takes a lot of resources, as in “people” that could instead focus on honing and perfecting fewer products instead of in circles chasing so many tails.
 
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Brookzy

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Assuming the Spring '21 refresh of AirPods brings new features, and the AirPods Pro aren't refreshed until Autumn/Fall '21, it seems strange that there could be a long period where the AirPods Pro are missing the latest features.
 
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FightTheFuture

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If all these products were to launch, which one would I get my mother?
I skimmed the article at first, missing that the AirPods X were likely not AirPods but a long awaited BeatsX update. There’s actually only three AirPods on the docket: AirPods Studio, 3rd gen AirPods, and 2nd gen AirPods Pro.

Updates are good if they bring enough features to warrant a new model.
 

4jasontv

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I skimmed the article at first, missing that the AirPods X were likely not AirPods but a long awaited BeatsX update. There’s actually only three AirPods on the docket: AirPods Studio, 3rd gen AirPods, and 2nd gen AirPods Pro.

Updates are good if they bring enough features to warrant a new model.
Updates are good. New models are not. Additional products should be released with careful consideration because every time a customer has to decide which one to get they increase the risk they won't get any of them. So AirPod vs AirPod Pro makes sense with the improved audio and noise cancellation in the later. But if you are going to introduce over the ear headphones you gotta kill one of the other products.

But wait... you may say... choice is good. More choices are better than less.

No. No they are not.
 

CIA

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Jun 17, 2003
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Everyone has different use cases, but for me BeatsX are the perfect mix of battery life, convenience, and life-durability. They pair quick with the W1, have inline volume controls w/mic and just wrap around my neck when not in use, so they don't vanish out of your ears easily like AirPods.
 
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araadt

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All the commenters here feigning consumer confusion between over-ear headphones and in-ear noise cancelling. How many folks for the last ten years also said, “I can’t wear Apple headphones, they don’t fit in my ears.”

This four-item product line is well-segmented. Home; sport; quality in-ear; entry-level price point. The use-cases are well defined. I find iPhones more confusing.
 

zorinlynx

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As someone who hates "earplug" style earbuds, I hope the original AirPods design that just sits in your ear without going too far inside doesn't go away. The earplug style buds are physically painful for me to use. They create suction and amplify every little noise my body makes.

I know a lot of people like them so I'm concerned they may replace the original model.
 

4jasontv

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All the commenters here feigning consumer confusion between over-ear headphones and in-ear noise cancelling. How many folks for the last ten years also said, “I can’t wear Apple headphones, they don’t fit in my ears.”

This four-item product line is well-segmented. Home; sport; quality in-ear; entry-level price point. The use-cases are well defined. I find iPhones more confusing.
But Home, sport, and quality in-ear should all be the same product. There is no consumer reason for their to be different products for each. The subdivision is to sell more airpods not to provide a better experience.

And Apple has not shown a willingness to kill old products as the once did. So now we have airpod 1, airpod 2, airpod 3, airpod pro 1, airpod pro 2, airpod x. Even if they kill off airpod 1 that is still excessive number of choices. Flooding the market is how we got all of those *ehem* 'high quality' android options.
 
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Greenmeenie

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Jan 14, 2013
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usually choice is good...but this is getting ridiculous. 4 different apple headphones? thats a bit much i think. Same with the Apple pencil. There should only be one Apple pencil. I would love to use my apple pencil 2 that i got for my 11” ipad pro on my ipad mini 5 but can’t. I guess that won’t happen until all the ipads get the same flat edged design. Eventually. Cause the charging method for the first gen apple pencil is HORRIBLE & very un-Apple like.
 

JagdTiger

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Dec 20, 2017
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Rumors suggest that Apple plans to expand its AirPods lineup with two new models later this year, including high-end, over-ear "AirPods Studio" and in-ear "AirPods X" with a BeatsX-like design for running and exercising. This would be followed by refreshes to both the regular AirPods and the AirPods Pro in 2021.


Here is where rumors stand:
  • AirPods Studio -- Summer or Fall 2020: Apple plans to release high-end over-ear headphones with noise cancellation this year, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that mass production of the headphones will begin in mid 2020, with shipments to Apple reportedly set to begin in June or July. The headphones will be named AirPods Studio and retail for $349, according to Jon Prosser, host of the YouTube channel Front Page Tech. Prosser said the headphones could be announced at WWDC 2020, which kicks off June 22.
    AirPods X -- Fall 2020: Last month, Prosser claimed that Apple was planning to release so-called "AirPods X" around September or October with a BeatsX-like design for running and exercising. Kuo acknowledged this rumor, noting that any new AirPods model coming in the second half of 2020 is "more likely to be the new Beats model."
    AirPods -- Spring 2021: Third-generation AirPods will enter mass production in the first half of 2021, according to Kuo, suggesting that the regular AirPods will not be refreshed until next year. Kuo expects internal design changes, but he did not indicate if there will be any external changes. The original AirPods launched in December 2016, followed by a second-generation refresh in March 2019.
  • AirPods Pro -- Fall 2021: Second-generation AirPods Pro will enter mass production between the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, according to Kuo, suggesting that a refresh is well over a year away. No further details are known. The current AirPods Pro launched at the end of October 2019.
Keep track of our various AirPods roundups linked below for the latest rumors.

Article Link: When to Expect New AirPods, Including Rumored 'Studio' and 'X' Models
These would be considered audiophile phones then?
 

araadt

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Apr 28, 2016
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But Home, sport, and quality in-ear should all be the same product. There is no consumer reason for their to be different products for each. The subdivision is to sell more airpods not to provide a better experience.
Maybe so, yeah. There could be a design compromise in there somewhere that could better fit both needs but bear with me for a second—

Personal, anecdotal-evidence time: I hate the over-ear hoops of the BeatsX—but I could see if someone were running or doing some sort of HIIT in the gym it would make sense. I prefer over-ear (assuming “Studio”) at home or at work because I’ll wear them 5-8 hours a day and I find it less fatiguing; and Studios should have improved battery life over standard AirPods. Standard AirPods on the go because that’s what I own. I’d never wear a chunky over-ear out on a walk because where do I stow them when I get to the coffee shop? I’m willing to pay for two products to solve these two problems.

It’s up to us to empathize with other users in the ecosystem: perhaps they have mobility issues or some use-case you didn’t think of? That‘s a big portion of a designer’s job and design-thinking. My 85-year-old aunt has arthritic hands and can’t handle the AirPods Pro but appreciates the ANC noise reduction.

Your (our, everyone’s) tolerance for cost or desire for additional purchases may differ from mine and that’s okay. Both opinions are valid.

Given Apple’s tens of thousands of engineers and the IP already having been developed via Beats, is it that much of a distraction to further include others in the userbase?
- - Post merged: - -

usually choice is good...but this is getting ridiculous. 4 different apple headphones? thats a bit much i think. Same with the Apple pencil. There should only be one Apple pencil. I would love to use my apple pencil 2 that i got for my 11” ipad pro on my ipad mini 5 but can’t. I guess that won’t happen until all the ipads get the same flat edged design. Eventually. Cause the charging method for the first gen apple pencil is HORRIBLE & very un-Apple like.
THIS. The Pencil point is a good one. I think there’s far more valid confusion over Pencil 1 vs Pencil 2 support than “do I buy over ear vs in-ear headphones?” At least the Logitech Crayon is targeted at kids (etc) who have differing dexterity than adults and makes a clear case for its existence.
 

Unity451

macrumors 6502
Aug 29, 2011
467
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Apple sure likes complicating product lines nowadays. Reminds me of 2012, there was one new iPhone and Samsung had like 12 new phones; makes it confusing for customers and shows lack of vision.

But, obviously Apple knows what they're doing. Just wish they would simplify and devote time to really makes a few products amazing, rather than spread themselves thin.
False. Apple does not know what they're doing. History is repeating itself.
 

Unregistered 4U

macrumors 65816
Jul 22, 2002
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There’s actually only three AirPods on the docket: AirPods Studio, 3rd gen AirPods, and 2nd gen AirPods Pro.
And, they are fairly different. It’s somewhat like there existing an Apple Drive, Apple Drive X, and Apple Drive Pro. That may seem confusing but it would only take seconds to see that one is a sedan, one is an SUV, and one is an 18 wheeler and not to be confused on what to buy.
 
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4jasontv

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Maybe so, yeah. There could be a design compromise in there somewhere that could better fit both needs but bear with me for a second—

Personal, anecdotal-evidence time: I hate the over-ear hoops of the BeatsX—but I could see if someone were running or doing some sort of HIIT in the gym it would make sense. I prefer over-ear (assuming “Studio”) at home or at work because I’ll wear them 5-8 hours a day and I find it less fatiguing; and Studios should have improved battery life over standard AirPods. Standard AirPods on the go because that’s what I own. I’d never wear a chunky over-ear out on a walk because where do I stow them when I get to the coffee shop? I’m willing to pay for two products to solve these two problems.

It’s up to us to empathize with other users in the ecosystem: perhaps they have mobility issues or some use-case you didn’t think of? That‘s a big portion of a designer’s job and design-thinking. My 85-year-old aunt has arthritic hands and can’t handle the AirPods Pro but appreciates the ANC noise reduction.

Your (our, everyone’s) tolerance for cost or desire for additional purchases may differ from mine and that’s okay. Both opinions are valid.

Given Apple’s tens of thousands of engineers and the IP already having been developed via Beats, is it that much of a distraction to further include others in the userbase?
- - Post merged: - -



THIS. The Pencil point is a good one. I think there’s far more valid confusion over Pencil 1 vs Pencil 2 support than “do I buy over ear vs in-ear headphones?” At least the Logitech Crayon is targeted at kids (etc) who have differing dexterity than adults and makes a clear case for its existence.
My point is that options intrinsically come with a cost to the consumer because it introduces anxiety, confusion, regret, and disappointment. In the pursuit of making it slightly better for some individuals everyone suffers a little. That’s where I find the trade off not worth it. I prefer the fit of the first gen AirPod over the pro, but that isn’t a defense for the non pro model remaining available.
 
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stumpapi

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Aug 1, 2010
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As someone who hates "earplug" style earbuds, I hope the original AirPods design that just sits in your ear without going too far inside doesn't go away. The earplug style buds are physically painful for me to use. They create suction and amplify every little noise my body makes.

I know a lot of people like them so I'm concerned they may replace the original model.
Absolutely, I had to replace my original Airpods when the batteries failed to hold a charge. I went with the Pro's. Now I regret that decision. I find the original Airpods to be more comfortable and to have better audio quality. I like the noise cancellation but don't use it that often.

Change and updates are nice but I suspect it has more to do with marketing than function. I hope they keep the originals as well and just make necessary improvements.
 

FightTheFuture

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And Apple has not shown a willingness to kill old products as the once did. So now we have airpod 1, airpod 2, airpod 3, airpod pro 1, airpod pro 2, airpod x. Even if they kill off airpod 1 that is still excessive number of choices. Flooding the market is how we got all of those *ehem* 'high quality' android options.
Apple no longer manufacturers the 1st generation AirPods (W1). They only sell two AirPods. The AirPods X are likely the BeatsX, which have never been updated.
 

araadt

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Apr 28, 2016
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Calgary, Alberta
My point is that options intrinsically come with a cost to the consumer because it introduces anxiety, confusion, regret, and disappointment. In the pursuit of making it slightly better for some individuals everyone suffers a little. That’s where I find the trade off not worth it. I prefer the fit of the first gen AirPod over the pro, but that isn’t a defense for the non pro model remaining available.
Again, I agree with you in theory. I think there has to be much more choice in a much narrower product category, though, for that to be the case. See: Malcolm Gladwell’s much-referenced ‘spaghetti sauce problem’. Cook is, at his heart, a numbers and efficency guy and I’m confident they’ve done the business case on this to death.

Besides, when you’re making things slightly better for some margin of individuals but your cohort is in the millions of units sold, those narrow segments suddenly look like cities. I’m no business wonk, but there must be profit in that.
 

4jasontv

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Jul 31, 2011
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Apple no longer manufacturers the 1st generation AirPods (W1). They only sell two AirPods. The AirPods X are likely the BeatsX, which have never been updated.
But they didn't pull them off the shelf so there are likely still stores out there selling them.
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Again, I agree with you in theory. I think there has to be much more choice in a much narrower product category, though, for that to be the case. See: Malcolm Gladwell’s much-referenced ‘spaghetti sauce problem’. Cook is, at his heart, a numbers and efficency guy and I’m confident they’ve done the business case on this to death.

Besides, when you’re making things slightly better for some margin of individuals but your cohort is in the millions of units sold, those narrow segments suddenly look like cities. I’m no business wonk, but there must be profit in that.
I am not arguing about profit, and I agree with you on the likely reason why they are doing it (profit). The thing is, Apple has (had) a brand based on simplicity. I wouldn't bat an eyelash at 40 different models of Beats headphones because Beats, like most speaker companies, are competing on availability of the personal sound profile and that justifies different form factors and different sound signatures. It doesn't jive with the brand for the airpod line to be so fragmented. It's value comes from it's simplicity. Your airpods should sound and fit like mine. Apple might make more money by disturbing that idea but it doesn't make it a better experience. And that's where my objection with Cooks vision of Apple comes from. I shouldn't have to make more than one compromise when selecting an Apple product. Either I want a big iPhone screen or a little one not a big screen with a better camera or a smaller one with a worse camera. Consumers don't want to be forced to decide between sweat protection and noise cancellation in addition to fit, sound profile etc. Maybe they could treat fit like they do color, but so far we have had 3 generations of airpods and they all sound different so I am not convinced they can do that. And what they don't change between models is as important as what they do.
 
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