Apple is reportedly working on a more affordable AirPods model to compete with cheaper TWS earbuds from other brands. Apple released the first-generation AirPods back in 2016, making the budding true wireless earbuds category mainstream. The current AirPods lineup includes the second-gen AirPods Pro that was announced last year, along with the older AirPods 3 and AirPods 2. In 2020, Apple also introduced a pair of over-ear wireless headphones called AirPods Max that include larger drivers and offer longer battery life.
According to Haitong International Tech Research analyst Jeff Pu, Apple is working on a pair of cheaper earbuds, called ‘AirPods Lite,’ to better compete with other TWS earbuds. Pu’s research note, spotted by 9to5Mac, said that Apple decided to work on the new product after experiencing softer demand for its expensive AirPods devices, which start at $129 for the older second-gen AirPods. According to industry sources cited by Pu, AirPods shipments could drop from 73 million units in 2022 to 63 million this year, partly due to the emergence of many competitors that are offering similar products at more attractive price points.
Apple Working On Cheaper ‘AirPods Lite’
Not a whole lot more is known about the AirPods Lite, but it will be interesting to see how Apple will price them to gain a foothold in the budget earbuds segment. Since the AirPods 2 are currently available for $129, Apple could price the ‘Lite’ version at $99 or lower, but to attain that price point, Apple might have to downgrade on the available features. That way, the company could establish a presence in the affordable segment to compete with earbuds like the $99 Nothing Ear (Stick).
Pu also offered some insight into Apple’s plans for its future smartwatches. According to another research note cited by 9to5Mac, this year’s Apple Watch models will be similar to their predecessors in terms of specifications, but next year’s lineup could include a Watch Ultra with a Micro LED display. In addition, the 2024 Apple Watch Ultra could also have a larger 2.1-inch screen, compared to the 1.93-inch panel in the current model.
The Micro LED screen in the 2024 Apple Watch Ultra is expected to offer more accurate colors and higher brightness levels than standard OLED, but is also expected to be more expensive than current OLED technology. Apple is expected to switch to Micro LED display technology for the vast majority of its products in the near future. Currently, the company uses OLED displays for its mainstream iPhones and Apple Watches, while most MacBooks and iPads, as well as the iPhone SE 3, still ship with LCD or mini-LED panels.
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