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Wild report suggests Apple is working on AirPods Pro Lite earbuds

Apple's product release schedules used to be essentially as predictable as day following night and season following season, but while it remains safe to expect the core iPhone lineup to be upgraded every fall, not much else is as easy to anticipate many months in advance.

The iPhone 9, for instance, is widely expected to come out two and a half years after the iPhone 8, with a new iPad Pro generation set to follow in the footsteps of previous high-end models released back in the fall of 2018, and the AirPods Pro unveiled mere months after the refreshed "regular" AirPods with a wireless charging case

It's all very unpredictable, and occasionally quite confusing, with a big emphasis on the latter feeling if the latest Digitimes report proves accurate. At first glance, this is not especially juicy, focusing primarily on Apple's need to diversify the production of various devices in the face of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak threatening to paralyze China's entire mobile industry and greatly impact the global smartphone market as well.

But then Digitimes (via MacRumors) casually mentions an unannounced and previously unheard-of product alongside "new-generation" iPad, Apple Watch, and iMac devices "to be released later" with more help than usual from Cupertino's "Taiwanese partners" in the supply chain. Said product is allegedly dubbed "AirPod Pro Lite", which might just be the single most bewildering name ever rumored for something being prepared by Apple.

A head-scratching report light on specifics

That's not only a confusing moniker, but one that makes little to no sense in the grand scheme of the company's product portfolio. After all, Apple already sells an "AirPod Pro Lite" of sorts. Only the Lite true wireless earbuds are called simply AirPods, fetching $199 with a wireless charging case included and $159 alongside a standard (read wired) charging case.

Since the AirPods Pro are typically priced at $249 a pair, we don't see where these AirPods Pro Lite could squeeze in as far as retail costs are concerned. Of course, Apple could always discontinue the non-Pro AirPods and replace them with a Pro Lite model. At the same time, it's possible Digitimes is simply talking about an upcoming third-gen AirPods variant ultimately headed for stores with no Pro or Lite branding.

Either way, the Taiwanese publication has no information on specs, features, pricing, or availability to share at the moment, so we'll just have to wait and... wonder if Apple could ever go for such a convoluted product name as AirPods Pro Lite.

The current AirPods lineup is untouchable

They say you shouldn't try to fix what isn't broken, and that's another reason why we're skeptical of Apple's intentions to overhaul the totally-not-broken AirPods family. This completely dominated the booming "hearables" market in 2019, and even though the AirPods Pro saw daylight pretty late in the year in relatively limited numbers, their global shipments reportedly exceeded 6 million units.

That's almost as many true wireless earbuds as Samsung moved in the entire year, and let's not forget about the company's frequent Galaxy Buds promotions. So, no, it doesn't make a lot of sense to dilute the AirPods Pro brand and expand the AirPods roster beyond the point of total confusion.

Of course, there's one last theory worth discussing. Perhaps Digitimes misspelled or misunderstood the name of this AirPods variant in the pipeline. What if Apple is in fact cooking up a non-Pro pair of budget-friendly AirPods Lite earbuds to fend off the onslaught of ultra-low-cost copycats? That doesn't sound like a very Apple move, but then again, neither did the "affordable" iPhone XR prior to its 2018 release.


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