Apple May Delay Building Rumored AirPods Pro Lite
Apple may have to delay manufacturing a new, lower-cost version of its AirPods Pro wireless earbuds, according to a recent DigiTimes report. The AirPods Pro Lite was scheduled to go into production this spring, but its release may be delayed by supply chain problems as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Lite as AirPods
Rumors about the AirPods Pro Lite earbuds first appeared at the beginning of the year. According to the report, factories were to begin making the earbuds at the end of the first quarter for sale later in 2020. The latest news suggests the earbuds won’t start coming off the factory lines until later this year.
What the new AirPods will look like or be capable of is unknown, as is the official name. Currently, the expectation is that they will be cheaper than the $250 AirPods Pro, but offer more of the Pro’s features than the standard version, such as its noise-canceling ability. The AirPods Pro only came out in October, so it seems unlikely that they are to be a replacement for that model. The standard AirPods have been out for almost a year, however, so an updated entry-level set of earbuds wouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
Apple may also be seeking to focus on the AirPods Pro because of how it began looking at using factories in Vietnam to build the earbuds last year. That could reduce the supply chain limitations that the coronavirus outbreak in China is expected to cause with other tech devices. The two Vietnamese factories are owned by some of Apple’s Chinese contract manufacturers. The shorter component list and relatively uncomplicated construction makes moving AirPods Pro manufacturing easier than other Apple products.
Apple’s focus on the AirPods Pro may also be a factor in choosing to delay the next generation of earbuds. Apple has said it wants to produce four million AirPods Pro a month. If there’s that much demand for the Pro version, a cheaper option may not be as big a priority, especially as the current non-premium version of the AirPods are still leaders in the market.