An excerpt from the report:
Apple's supply chain makers reportedly have kicked off volume production of related components for next-generation AirPods that will enable ODM production partners to begin mass assembly of the gadgets as early as October to meet year-end shopping season demand, according to supply chain sources.In April, noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said two new AirPods models would likely go into mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, with Luxshare, Goertek, and Amkor serving as primary suppliers.
Given the supply of current AirPods model still remains tight, it will remain an issue whether Apple could maintain sufficient supply of the next-generation AirPods, whose structural changes might affect yield rates at production lines, according to market watchers.
Kuo believes one of the new AirPods models will feature an "all-new form factor design" and a "higher price" than the second-generation AirPods, which cost $159 with a standard charging case and $199 with a wireless charging case. The other model is expected to be a more iterative update with the same pricing.
If new AirPods do launch later this year, they will likely be the more iterative pair that Kuo referred to, as Bloomberg's Mark Gurman expects the higher-priced AirPods with water resistance and noise cancelation to launch as early as 2020. It's unclear what features would be part of the iterative update.
In March, Apple released second-generation AirPods powered by an Apple-designed H1 chip, enabling hands-free "Hey Siri" functionality and up to 50 percent more talk time compared to the original AirPods. The second-generation AirPods feature the same outward design as the original.