AirPods 3 launch in 2021 could change your gift plans

As we approach the 2020 holiday shopping season, Apple's AirPods appear to be a likely target for the "has everything" gift-getters of the world. A tip this week from TFI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested that Apple will begin manufacturing AirPods 3 in early 2021. The big question here is: Should you wait to buy a new pair of AirPods now?

Per the note seen by MacRumors, Kuo said that Apple is working on third-generation AirPods that'll start with "mass production" in the first half of the year 2021. Expectations are that AirPods 3 will fit between AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro with regard to features.

AirPods 3 are expected to share industrial design cues with AirPods Pro. These new earbuds will likely have the shorter stem of AirPods Pro, but won't share the full set of top-tier features. They'll once again very, very likely be offered in white or black right out the gate.

It's expected that AirPods 3 will have longer battery life than their predecessors. Even if Apple only optimizes performance by a small percentage, every little bit counts – especially when vast numbers of potential buyers will be current owners of the first two generations of AirPods.

The price of AirPods 3 will likely be similar to the launch price of AirPods 2, with the wireless charging case. AirPods 3 launched with the option of a standard charging case or a wireless charging case with prices at $159 and $199. It's possible there'll still be two options this time around, but less likely than the wireless charging case option alone.

The pricing structure included with AirPods 3 is expected to reflect the improvements in battery life and wireless performance at the same time as AirPods Pro continue to feature higher-end features like Active Noise Cancellation.

It'll be interesting to see how Apple updates the design of AirPods 3 without making them appear too similar to AirPods Pro. Wouldn't want your average passerby to think you've got plain ol' AirPods when you're actually rolling with the higher-end AirPods Pro, now would you?

Apple may also include replaceable ear tips, which should cut down on the number of AirPods lost by commuters on train tracks. Cross your fingers for a wider variety of colors, too!