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(Pocket-lint) - Apple's third generation of its wireless earphones are expected to be released in early 2021 and a recent report suggests they will take on a new design similar to the AirPods Pro.

The AirPods 3 - as they are being called for now - would succeed the AirPods 2 that arrived in March 2019, and TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims they will move to a system-in-chip solution like the AirPods Pro.

The current standard AirPods use surface mount technology but a move to system in chip - like the AirPods Pro have done with the H1 chip - allows more technology to fit into a smaller space.

This in turn would allow the design to change, perhaps resulting in a shorter stem like the AirPods Pro and a move away from the toothbrush-head-like design Apple's wireless earphones have offered since they first arrived.

Kuo doesn't predict what features the AirPods 3 might get compared to the AirPods Pro in his report but longer battery life, more talk time and a wireless charging case would all be features we'd expect.

It's likely Apple will leave noise cancelling to the AirPods Pro, differentiating them from the AirPods 3, but we'd hope the standard model would at least gain water and sweat resistance.

Speculation suggests we will see the Apple AirPods 3 arrive around March 2021, which would be two years after their predecessor. You can read all the latest rumours surrounding the earphones in our AirPods 3 rumour round up feature.

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If you don't want to wait until next year, see how the Airpods 2 and AirPods Pro compare here.

Writing by Britta O'Boyle. Originally published on 8 July 2020.