AirPods were never among the cheapest wireless earbuds out there, but Apple may have a cheaper model up its sleeve. According to analyst Jeff Pu of Haitong Intl Tech Research (via 9to5Mac (opens in new tab)), Apple is working on a pair of “AirPods Lite” for more affordable models like the Sony WF-C500, Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus, and Earfun Air.
In addition to the AirPods Max over-ear model, Apple currently sells the older second-generation AirPods, in addition to the third-generation AirPods launched in 2022 and the second-generation AirPods Pro. The second-generation AirPods cost around £129 / $99 (around AU$230), which would likely undercut any cheaper model.
Apple traditionally doesn’t launch budget products, preferring instead to discount its older models. The company is reportedly considering a move into budget earbuds due to declining demand for AirPods — shipments are expected to drop from 73 million units in 2022 to 63 million in 2023, according to Pu.
The analyst doesn’t share any further details about what these AirPods Lite could entail, but we can guess that they have a shorter battery life than other AirPods. Other extras, such as spatial audio and wireless charging, may also not be available.
Can’t decide between AirPods? Check out our AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro (1st generation) and AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro 2 equations
Read our review of the Sony WF-1000XM4
Also consider the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Best wireless earbuds: budget and premium