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Apple AirPods X: what are they and why are they so expensive?

A mockup of what the Apple over-ear headphones could look like. (Image credit: Curved)

Rumors around the so-called Apple AirPods X have been circling since an inventory listing from US store Target seemingly revealed the price of a new pair of Apple headphones.

While the tech giant is yet to confirm the existence of the AirPods X, there's mounting speculation that these are the Apple over-ear headphones we've been waiting for. 

The first Apple over-ear headphones are expected to launch in the first half of 2020, based on predictions by respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a good track record of correctly predicting Apple product releases.

We've just had our first glimpse of the Apple headphones in leaked code for iOS 14, adding even more credence to these rumors.

We first heard about the AirPods X when YouTuber Jon Prosser posted an image to Twitter, purporting to show the upcoming over-ear headphones in Target's system, mysteriously listed as "Apple AirPods (X Generation)". You can see the image for yourself below:

Details of the AirPods X may be scant at this moment in time, but we can glean a few details from the leaked Target listing – as well as all the rumors we've heard so far around Apple's over-ear headphones.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The Apple AirPods X – which we think will be Apple's first over-ear headphones.
  • When will they be released? It's rumored that they'll launch in the first half of 2020.
  • How much will they cost? $399, which works out at around £300 / AU$600 (if a leaked product listing is to be believed). 

Apple AirPods X price

If the Target product listing is legitimate (and we think it is), the Apple AirPods X will retail for $399, which works out at around £300 / AU$600. 

This price is one of the reasons we believe the AirPods X will be a pair of over-ear headphones; after all, the most expensive Apple true wireless earbuds, the AirPods Pro, only cost $249 / £249 / AU$399. 

This suggests that the AirPods X will comprise a form factor that's typically more expensive – over-ear headphones.

If the AirPods X are the rumored Apple over-ear headphones, then the brand is aiming for the higher end of the price scale, surpassing the cost of competitors like the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

The Apple AirPods X could be over-ear headphones like the Beats Studio 3 (pictured).

The Apple AirPods X could be over-ear headphones like the Beats Studio 3 (pictured). (Image credit: TechRadar)

Apple AirPods X release date

Neither Apple nor Target have confirmed whether this leaked listing really is for the rumored Apple over-ear headphones, but it would corroborate predictions that the wireless headphones will launch in the first half of this year.

According to a report by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who correctly predicted the release of the upgraded Apple AirPods and the AirPods Pro in 2019, the headphones will launch alongside a number of new products in the coming months.

These aren't the only new Apple headphones rumored to launch in 2020. The AirPods Pro Lite will apparently be an entry-level version of the noise-cancelling AirPods Pro, and we've recently seen a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing that shows a diagram of the upcoming Beats Powerbeats 4.

AppleInsider claims to have spoken with "multiple Target staffers" about the leaked listing image, saying that,  "while they could not provide us any information about the provenance of the image, they did say that placeholders for new products are common, with pricing information —but not accurate product names —often provided by the manufacturer in advance of release."

According to these staffers, products with a placeholder usually ship within a month, and "sometimes as soon as a week following initial appearance in the system".

So, we could see the first-ever pair of Apple over-ear headphones as soon as March – after all, the tech giant revealed Apple Arcade and Apple TV Plus in March 2019, as well as the upgraded AirPods.

For now, without any confirmation from Apple, we'll have to wait and see – but we'll be sure to keep our eyes peeled for any more leaks and rumors over the next few weeks.

A mockup of what a pair of Apple over-ear headphones could look like.

A mockup of what a pair of Apple over-ear headphones could look like. (Image credit: Curved)

Apple AirPods X design

Based on the Target listing, it's been speculated that the Apple over-ear headphones could come in a range of colors – that's due to the existence of three different product codes, all priced at $399. 

So far, Apple's existing headphones, the EarPods, AirPods, and AirPods Pro, have only ever been available in white, though Apple-owned Beats headphones often come in a range of bright colors.

Otherwise, we'd like to see an evolution of Apple's classic design with their rumored over-ear headphones, with smooth, clean lines, premium materials, and a minimalist look without lots of bulky hardware ruining the effect. 

Will they really be called the Apple AirPods X?

It's totally possible that Apple's first over-ear headphones will be called the AirPods X, especially if the company takes a leaf from Beats' naming conventions, as with the Beats X Wireless Earphones – after all, Beats is owned by Apple.

However, the 'X' could easily be a placeholder for something else, like Apple AirPods Max, like the iPhone XS Max.

It's also been posited that the company's first over-ear headphones will be called the Apple StudioPods – though this is pure speculation, and we'll probably have to wait for an official announcement from Apple to find out the true name of the AirPods X.

In the meantime, make sure you check out our full guide to the rumored Apple over-ear headphones, complete with our wishlist of all the features we'd like to see.