Apple AirPods 3 could still be launching before the end of 2021

The second-generation AirPods. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Where are the long-awaited AirPods 3? We were expecting them to show up alongside the iPhone 13 in September, but there was no mention of the upgraded wireless earbuds. According to industry insiders though, they could still launch before the end of 2021.

That's as per information obtained by DigiTimes (via MacRumors), and considering how long we've already been waiting for the AirPods 3, it seems plausible that Apple is indeed planning to unveil them before the year is out.

Students of AirPod history will know that the second generation earbuds were launched into the world in March 2019, which by our reckoning makes the successors overdue at this point – even with the global pandemic interrupting production schedules.

Production possibly underway

Speaking of production schedules, we got word a few weeks ago that Apple had started manufacturing the earbuds ready to go on sale. That adds even more credibility to the prediction that a 2021 launch is still on the table.

As for what the AirPods 3 are actually going to bring with them, improved audio quality is of course a must. There have also been rumors of longer battery life and an improved bass response to tempt users into an upgrade.

It's possible that we'll see the AirPods 3 wireless earbuds unveiled at the same time as new MacBook Pros before 2021 turns into 2022, but then again Apple might just decide that a simple press release is enough. As soon as it happens, we'll let you know.

Analysis: Apple is in no rush with its AirPods

apple airpods max

The Apple AirPods Max. (Image credit: Apple)

Apple AirPods have only been with us since late 2016, but they've been a huge success: not only has Apple sold a mountain of them, they've also prompted just about every other phone maker in existence to push out some wireless earbuds of their own.

While two-and-a-half years might be a relatively long time to wait for a gadget upgrade, Apple is in no rush, and it doesn't need to be. The second-generation AirPods are still perfectly good at what they do, and no one is going to upgrade their earbuds without one or two compelling reasons to do so.

Since the AirPods 2 appeared, we've seen Apple launch the AirPods Pro and the AirPods Max, so it's not as if the company has been completely quiet when it comes to pushing out new and improved headphones for its millions of loyal customers.

We'll have to wait and see exactly what the AirPods 3 offer in terms of improved features and audio quality, but Apple can rest easy in the knowledge that it's still going to shift a massive number of the wireless earbuds – and that's going to be the case no matter what upgrade cycle timings it decides to go with.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.