Rumored AirPods Lite could bring Apple magic to a lower price point

Airpods 3 With Case Right Earbud Lying In Front Of Case
(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

According to a new report, Apple could be getting ready to enter the budget wireless earbuds market.

With most of Apple's AirPods products living towards the higher end of the market, analyst Jeff Pu has reportedly claimed that Apple is ready to enter the budget arena to compete with the low-cost earbuds that undercut its AirPods 2 and AirPods 3 earbuds.

The new earbuds, dubbed AirPods Lite, would likely need to be considerably cheaper than anything Apple's audio strategy offers today, with the AirPods 2 currently selling for around $129. The newer AirPods 3 sell for about $169.

A budget option

In a research note seen by 9to5Mac (opens in new tab), Pu cites industry sources when saying that the AirPods Lite earbuds are expected to arrive when demand for Apple's earbuds drops at some point in 2023. It's thought that Apple shifted around 73 million AirPods in 2022, with that number now likely to fall to around the 63 million unit mark.

With that in mind, Pu believes that Apple's answer to slower demand will be to enter the budget market. However, how budget the earbuds would be remains to be seen. Apple will likely still need to include its silicon to allow for quick device pairing and switching, although removing it would surely allow for a lower price point.

With AirPods 2 selling for $129, Apple would surely need to hit the sub-$100 mark to make AirPods Lite worthwhile. However, it's also possible the company could choose to reduce the price of AirPods 2 to make them more attractive to buyers on a tighter budget.

On the polar opposite of the market, Apple already has the AirPods Pro 2 and AirPods Max, with the latter overdue for a refresh.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.