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(Pocket-lint) - These could be the third-generation of Apple's standard AirPods. At first glance, they look like the AirPods Pro. But they don't have the moulded tips and are more like a halfway house between the Pros and the AirPods 2.

The case is a little wider than the AirPods 2 case but less wide than the Pro case, while the earphones themselves are clearly but subtly different than the existing AirPods on the market.

Rumours have circulated for some time that any new standard AirPods will take some cues from the AirPods Pro and that's clearly in action here, with a shorter stem and bigger speaker meshes - this could indicate noise cancellation is coming to the standard AirPods or it could be a version of the AirPods Pro air pressure equalisation tech designed to reduce the 'fatigue' you get by wearing many earphones for long periods.

The current AirPods 2 could stick around too, of course, and simply drop to a cheaper price point - perhaps around the $/£ 129 or even 99 mark. 

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The leak comes courtesy of 52audio, which has a patchy record for such information in the past - as MacRumors points out, it previously carried an X-ray image of the AirPods Pro that it said was the new earphones but actually wasn't. 

Writing by Dan Grabham. Originally published on 22 February 2021.