AirPods 3: Are Apple's next headphones set for this surprise new design?

Almost every one of Apple's product categories has seen an update in 2020, from the Mac to the iPhone (via the Apple Watch, iPad and pretty much everything in between). When it comes to its hugely popular AirPods though, the company has been conspicuously quiet. But that could soon be about to change.

Rumours of various new AirPods models have been doing the rounds for a while, and a new leak may have just given us our first glimpse of the AirPods 3. If the photo is genuine, Apple's base-level AirPods (already among our best wireless headphones) could be getting a brand new design, inspired by the AirPods Pro.

AirPods 3 leaked photo

This leaked image is said to show the top of the new AirPods (Image credit: 52audio)

The photo, shared by Japanese blog 52audio (via 9to5Mac), purports to show the top of the new earphones, as well as a section of their container (check out our best fun AirPods cases if you fancy decking yours out). And it appears to confirm recent rumours that the new AirPods will closely resemble the current AirPods Pro – albeit without certain features such as active cancellation.

As for the AirPods Pro themselves, leaks have suggested the next iteration will lose their iconic 'stem' – arguably the AirPods' most recognisable design feature. If the basic version is to take its design cue from the current Pros, it makes sense that Apple will want to differentiate the two – a more rounded, form-fitting shape for the higher-end model would certainly help the new AirPods Pro stand apart from the rest.


A render of the upcoming 3rd generation AirPods (Image credit: 52audio)

If Apple is indeed planning new versions of both models, 2021 could end up being the year of the AirPods. The much-rumoured AirPods Studio, Apple's supposed over-ear cans, were expected to launch with the iPhone 12 this year, but are now said to be coming in 2021. If Apple has not one but three new AirPods models to announce, we wouldn't be surprised to see an AirPods-specific event announced next year.

While the new AirPods certainly sound exciting, it's probably wise for Apple to hold onto them until next year. With the sheer amount of products launched recently (three events in three months – come on, guys), we're only just catching our breath. Just last night, Apple revealed not one but three new Macs all packing its brand new M1 chip – which could be a game-changer for creatives. But if all of these announcements sound like bad news for your wallet, don't despair – our Apple Black Friday page features all of the best Apple deals in one place. 

Read more:

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).