Apple is reportedly eyeing new designs for its pricey AirPods — and their distinctive, white ‘stems’ could become a major casualty.
The iPhone maker is working on a pair of new models — the first a sequel to its standard, $159 in-ear headphones, and the second being a follow-up to its more expensive $249 AirPods Pro, Bloomberg reports.
The new design of the lower-priced model will see Apple reduce the length of the AirPods’ stems — extensions that many critics derided as awkward-looking upon their release — and which stick out about an inch on current models.
The facelift will make the stems look more like those of the current AirPods Pro, which have a significantly smaller form factor and feature replaceable rubber “ear tips” — the part that’s inserted into the ear canal.
The AirPods Pro, which are smaller will reportedly ditch the stem entirely in favor of “a more rounded shape that fills more of a user’s ear,” and that is similar to recent offerings from Amazon and Google.
The final design will depend on whether Apple is able to fit its high-end noise-cancelling technology, as well as antennas and microphones, into such a small form factor.
The earbuds are reportedly being prepared for a launch in the first half of 2021.
Apple is also considering rolling out another Siri smart speaker. Earlier this month it announced a $99 HomePod Mini — a more affordable counterpart to the $299 HomePod. The new speaker would reportedly be priced in the middle of the two products.
The rumors of new AirPods arrives as Apple’s new iPhone 12 line has hit stores with no complimentary headphones included in the box. Though Apple has framed the decision to remove the freebie as one that was made in favor of the environment, it also came as AirPods sales have brought in billions of dollars of revenue.
Apple shares were up 0.2 percent Monday morning.
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