Apple's Beats brand in April unveiled the Powerbeats Pro, a redesigned wire-free version of its popular fitness-oriented Powerbeats earbuds.
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iPhone 8 Said to Have Enhanced Earpiece With Further Improvements to Stereo Sound and Waterproofing
For those unfamiliar, the receiver is the slim, meshed earpiece cutout above the screen that you hold against your ear during a phone call. Since the iPhone 7, it has doubled as a full-out speaker. With two speakers, Apple says the iPhone 7 delivers two times the audio output of an iPhone 6s with increased dynamic range.
JPMorgan didn't specify what acoustical improvements will be made to the iPhone 8's receiver, but it's reasonable to assume it could have higher peak volume at the very least. The earpiece will also be more waterproof, in line with a previous rumor claiming the iPhone 8 will have even better IP68-rated water resistance.
The research note also made the rather outlandish prediction that AirPods may come as a free accessory with the iPhone 8.
Apple including AirPods with the iPhone 8 isn't something we've heard before, so treat the rumor with a healthy dose of skepticism. But, if the rumor proves to be accurate, AirPods would presumably replace Apple's wired EarPods with Lightning connector that it includes in the box with current iPhone models.
AirPods cost $159 in the United States, considerably more than EarPods, which retail for $29 when purchased separately, and cost Apple barely anything to make, according to estimates by market research firm IHS Markit. It's unclear how much it costs Apple to manufacture a pair of AirPods.
Multiple reports suggest the iPhone 8 will be expensive, with the base model costing at least as much as a maxed out iPhone 7 Plus. Given that many iPhone 8 configurations will likely exceed $1,000 in the United States, perhaps Apple will still be able to achieve a reasonable enough profit margin to include AirPods in the box.
Other iPhone 8 features expected by JPMorgan have all been rumored previously, including a stainless steel and glass design, faster processor, larger battery, wireless charging, and 3D sensing module for facial recognition. JPMorgan estimates the device will be $75 to $80 more expensive to manufacture.
This research note comes from a group of JPMorgan analysts in the Asia-Pacific region, including Gokul Hariharan. Not listed is Rod Hall, who covers Apple for JPMorgan in the United States. Hall is the analyst who believes there's a highly likely chance Apple will preview the iPhone 8 at WWDC in June.