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New Apple AirPods image leak reveals third-gen wireless earbuds – but is it genuine?

fake airpods
The Apple AirPods (2019). (Image credit: Moma Okgo / Shutterstock.com)

We've been hearing rumors of the Apple AirPods 3 for a while now, and a new image of what could be the upcoming wireless earbuds has surfaced online, potentially giving us our first look at the next Apple earbuds. 

The image, which was leaked by 52audio, shows what the site claims are the third-generation AirPods and charging case.

The image backs up some of the previous rumors we've heard about the Apple AirPods 3, including the fact that they'll sport shorter ear stems like the Apple AirPods Pro

Based on the photograph, it doesn't look like the new AirPods will have silicone eartips like their noise-cancelling siblings, though a render provided by 52audio shows what looks like detachable silicone eartips included with the buds. Giving users the option to swap the tips in and out would certainly appease fans of both the original AirPods and the newer AirPods Pro.

Airpods 3

(Image credit: 52audio)

52audio also claims that the true wireless earbuds will feature similar pressure-relieving air vents to make the earbuds comfortable to wear for long periods. 

The charging case appears to be more like what you get with the original AirPods, rather than the more rectangular case provided with the AirPods Pro, though there is now an LED battery indicator on the front. 

According to 52audio, the new AirPods will feature touch controls and will likely come with support for Spatial Audio and active noise cancellation, like the AirPods Pro. Disappointingly, the report also says that there will be no improvement to the onboard battery life, which currently comes in at five hours. 

Is it genuine?

According to 52audio, the Apple AirPods 3 will be released in March 2021 – and while we have heard rumors of an Apple event in March from the likes of reputable leaker Jon Prosser, there's has been no confirmation from the tech giant so far. 

In fact, it's important to take all the claims made by 52audio with a hefty pinch of salt.

As MacRumors points out, the publication has previously shared images it claimed were of the third-generation AirPods, which were later proven to actually be faked images of the current-generation AirPods Pro.

Whether the images are legitimate or not, the world is expecting a new generation of the Apple AirPods to be announced imminently. It's been nearly two years since the upgraded 2019 AirPods were launched, and since then, the world of true wireless earbuds has changed vastly, with many models offering improved battery life, audio quality, and connectivity for a far lower price than Apple's buds. 

If Apple can furnish the new AirPods with some of the features included with the AirPods Pro – and keep the price down – the tech giant could be onto a real winner that will please casual listeners and discerning audiophiles alike.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia is TechRadar's Audio & Music Editor, covering everything from headphones to smart speakers. Based in TechRadar's London offices, she previously worked in the music industry for a few years before finding her calling in journalism. In her spare time Olivia loves playing retro video games, hanging with her cat Ethel and golden retriever Dora, and bingeing on Netflix.