When to Expect New AirPods, Including Rumored 'Studio' and 'X' Models

Rumors suggest that Apple plans to expand its AirPods lineup with two new models later this year, including high-end, over-ear "AirPods Studio" and in-ear "AirPods X" with a BeatsX-like design for running and exercising. This would be followed by refreshes to both the regular AirPods and the AirPods Pro in 2021.

AirPods Pro Lite Cool Mint Breeze
Here is where rumors stand:

  • AirPods Studio — Summer or Fall 2020: Apple plans to release high-end over-ear headphones with noise cancellation this year, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that mass production of the headphones will begin in mid 2020, with shipments to Apple reportedly set to begin in June or July. The headphones will be named AirPods Studio and retail for $349, according to Jon Prosser, host of the YouTube channel Front Page Tech. Prosser said the headphones could be announced at WWDC 2020, which kicks off June 22.

  • AirPods X — Fall 2020: Last month, Prosser claimed that Apple was planning to release so-called "AirPods X" around September or October with a BeatsX-like design for running and exercising. Kuo acknowledged this rumor, noting that any new AirPods model coming in the second half of 2020 is "more likely to be the new Beats model."

  • AirPods — Spring 2021: Third-generation AirPods will enter mass production in the first half of 2021, according to Kuo, suggesting that the regular AirPods will not be refreshed until next year. Kuo expects internal design changes, but he did not indicate if there will be any external changes. The original AirPods launched in December 2016, followed by a second-generation refresh in March 2019.
  • AirPods Pro — Fall 2021: Second-generation AirPods Pro will enter mass production between the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, according to Kuo, suggesting that a refresh is well over a year away. No further details are known. The current AirPods Pro launched at the end of October 2019.

Keep track of our various AirPods roundups linked below for the latest rumors.

Related Roundups: AirPods 3, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max
Related Forum: AirPods

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Top Rated Comments

4jasontv Avatar
53 months ago
Remember when Steve returned to Apple and he discontinued the Performa and all the other distracting options.

It was so wonderful. He drew a + and labeled Portable and Stationary vs Pro and Consumer. One product each.

If all these products were to launch, which one would I get my mother?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FSMBP Avatar
53 months ago
Apple sure likes complicating product lines nowadays. Reminds me of 2012, there was one new iPhone and Samsung had like 12 new phones; makes it confusing for customers and shows lack of vision.

But, obviously Apple knows what they're doing. Just wish they would simplify and devote time to really makes a few products amazing, rather than spread themselves thin.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zorinlynx Avatar
53 months ago
As someone who hates "earplug" style earbuds, I hope the original AirPods design that just sits in your ear without going too far inside doesn't go away. The earplug style buds are physically painful for me to use. They create suction and amplify every little noise my body makes.

I know a lot of people like them so I'm concerned they may replace the original model.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zorinlynx Avatar
53 months ago

usually choice is good...but this is getting ridiculous. 4 different apple headphones?
Headphones are a VERY personal thing; different people like different kinds of headphones. If any product category should have a lot of choices it's this one.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
araadt Avatar
53 months ago

But Home, sport, and quality in-ear should all be the same product. There is no consumer reason for their to be different products for each. The subdivision is to sell more airpods not to provide a better experience.
Maybe so, yeah. There could be a design compromise in there somewhere that could better fit both needs but bear with me for a second—

Personal, anecdotal-evidence time: I hate the over-ear hoops of the BeatsX—but I could see if someone were running or doing some sort of HIIT in the gym it would make sense. I prefer over-ear (assuming “Studio”) at home or at work because I’ll wear them 5-8 hours a day and I find it less fatiguing; and Studios should have improved battery life over standard AirPods. Standard AirPods on the go because that’s what I own. I’d never wear a chunky over-ear out on a walk because where do I stow them when I get to the coffee shop? I’m willing to pay for two products to solve these two problems.

It’s up to us to empathize with other users in the ecosystem: perhaps they have mobility issues or some use-case you didn’t think of? That‘s a big portion of a designer’s job and design-thinking. My 85-year-old aunt has arthritic hands and can’t handle the AirPods Pro but appreciates the ANC noise reduction.

Your (our, everyone’s) tolerance for cost or desire for additional purchases may differ from mine and that’s okay. Both opinions are valid.

Given Apple’s tens of thousands of engineers and the IP already having been developed via Beats, is it that much of a distraction to further include others in the userbase?


usually choice is good...but this is getting ridiculous. 4 different apple headphones? thats a bit much i think. Same with the Apple pencil. There should only be one Apple pencil. I would love to use my apple pencil 2 that i got for my 11” ipad pro on my ipad mini 5 but can’t. I guess that won’t happen until all the ipads get the same flat edged design. Eventually. Cause the charging method for the first gen apple pencil is HORRIBLE & very un-Apple like.
THIS. The Pencil point is a good one. I think there’s far more valid confusion over Pencil 1 vs Pencil 2 support than “do I buy over ear vs in-ear headphones?” At least the Logitech Crayon is targeted at kids (etc) who have differing dexterity than adults and makes a clear case for its existence.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CIA Avatar
53 months ago
Everyone has different use cases, but for me BeatsX are the perfect mix of battery life, convenience, and life-durability. They pair quick with the W1, have inline volume controls w/mic and just wrap around my neck when not in use, so they don't vanish out of your ears easily like AirPods.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)