New Kuo note suggests AirPods 3 might not arrive this month after all

Airpods 3 Leak
Airpods 3 Leak (Image credit: Gizmochina)

What you need to know

  • Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that AirPods 3 won't go into mass production until the third quarter of 2021.
  • AirPods 3 had previously been rumored for an announcement as soon as next week.

Apple won't put AirPods 3 into mass production until the third quarter of 2021. That's according to a new research note by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, depending on how you read it.

A new research note seen by iMore says that "AirPods 3 [are] expected to ship in large quantities in 3Q21," which could mean that we won't see the AirPods refresh for a few months yet. As part of the same note Kuo says that he expects AirPods shipments as a whole to decline to around 78 million, a considerable fall from the 90 million shipped in 2020.

3rd generation airpods

3rd generation airpods (Image credit: 52audio)

Apple has been heavily rumored to be getting AirPods 3 ready for launch during an online event next week. Kuo himself had already said that AirPods 3 would arrive in the first half of this year. That would suggest that either something has changed or that something is being lost in translation here. It's possible that Apple will launch AirPods 3 with limited supply this month with more shipments taking place in the third quarter, for example.

Apple's AirPods 3 have been leaked time and time again and with a March 23 event heavily rumored, we'd expected to see the new wireless earbuds join AirTags as the big announcements. Until then, we're left with the already excellent AirPods 2. Failing that, there are tons of amazing true wireless earbids expected to ship in large quantities in 3Q21 to choose from, too.

Oliver Haslam

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.