AirPods 3 photo leak shows dramatic new design

(Image credit: Future)

More leaked photos that supposedly show off the Apple AirPods 3 have revealed a big design shift for the wireless earbuds

The images were posted to Twitter by LeaksApplePro, and show off what looks like a pair of AirPods with shorter stems, backing up previous rumors that the next AirPods would take some style cues from the noise-cancelling AirPods Pro

Not only that, but renders of the new AirPods were posted by GizmoChina, with the site claiming that the images came from suppliers of the rumored earbuds

These renders look very similar to the photos posted by LeaksApplePro, as well as previous images leaked by 52Audio in late February.

airpods 3

(Image credit: GizmoChina)

Based on the images, it doesn't look as though the AirPods 3 will come with silicone eartips like the AirPods Pro, though it is rumored that they'll come with replaceable eartips of some description. How these will attach to the new 'Pods remains a mystery.

When will the AirPods 3 be launched?

With nearly two years having passed since the last iteration of Apple's true wireless earbuds, the AirPods (2019), there are naturally already murmurs of another updated model coming our way.

While there were rumors of the Apple AirPods 3 crashing into the market before 2020 was out, they never materialized – and now everything is pointing to a 2021 release date.

They could launch very soon, too. Apple’s first big event of the year could take place on March 23, as posited by prominent leaker DuanRui who stated as much in a tweet. Interestingly, this coincides with the OnePlus 9 reveal that’s also scheduled for March 23.

Another Apple tipster, Jon Prosser, added fuel to the speculation fire in a tweet that only featured the number “23.” Prosser elaborated in a follow-up tweet that “AirTags, iPad Pro, AirPods, Apple TV” are all “products that are ready.”

Of course the next AirPods could be a follow-up to the AirPods Pro, rather than an upgraded version of Apple's non-ANC earbuds. 

A report from Bloomberg (among others) claimed the AirPods Pro 2 would launch this year, and could be subject to a pretty dramatic design overhaul, getting rid of the protruding ear stems that made the original AirPods so instantly recognizable. 

Since then, Japanese blog MacOtakara, which is often right in its Apple predictions, alleged that the AirPods Pro 2 will arrive in April 2021 alongside the iPhone SE 3 – making a March 23 announcement even more credible. 

Whatever form the next AirPods take, we'll be keeping our eyes peeled for any further leaks in the run up to March 23.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.