Claimed AirPods 3 images hint at shorter stems and other design changes

We heard before that Apple’s third-generation AirPods could be getting an AirPods Pro-like design with shorter stems along with a larger in-ear portion. And thanks to newly leaked images, we now have a much better idea of how the AirPods 3 might look like in person.


  • Shorter stems are in line with Ming-Chi Kuo’s prediction.
  • These new entry-level AirPods should drop by the summer.
  • Active noise cancellation is not expected for AirPods 3.

AirPods with shorter stems

The leaked images come from 52audio.

We can see what appears to be a pair of earbuds featuring an AirPods-like design. Provided the images are real, the redesigned earbuds should indeed have shorter stems along with silicon ear tips with an in-ear design rather than hanging out of your ear like the current model does.

A redesigned case appears to be a bit narrower. According to MacRumors, the AirPods 3 will also feature touch controls, include a vent system for pressure equalization similar to that on the AirPods Pro and support Apple’s faux surround system, called spatial audio.

And what’s Kuo saying?

But wait, what does a haruspex of Ming-Chi Kuo’s powers have to say about the third-generation AirPods? Peering into the crystal ball, the reliable analyst predicted back in July 2020 that the next AirPods will have shorter stems below the ear. One of the designs in testing reportedly featured a more rounded shape filling more of the user’s ear.

Helpful tips for using your AirPods like a pro

Piggy-backing on Kuo’s research note, Bloomberg reported in October 2020 that the AirPods 3 may also include replaceable ear tips. That being said, however, more advanced features like active noise cancellation should remain reserved for the AirPods Pro family.

The AirPods 3 should arrive in the first half of 2021, Kuo has it.

Meanwhile, the next AirPods Pro model should be even smaller by completely eliminating the stem that currently sticks out from the bottom.