Apple Trials AirPods Production in Vietnam in Bid to Cut Reliance on China

Apple will begin trialing AirPods production in Vietnam as part of a strategy to diversify product manufacturing beyond China, according to a new report by Nikkei Asian Review.

China's GoerTek, one of Apple's key contract manufacturers, will this summer begin testing the resilience of its manufacturing processes for the newest generation of AirPods at its audio factory in northern Vietnam, two sources with knowledge of the plan said.
The trial run will mark the first time Apple's hugely popular wireless earbuds have been produced outside China. According to the report, Apple has asked component suppliers to support Goertek's efforts, despite initially only green-lighting very small volumes of AirPods.

Apple has traditionally sourced its wired EarPods in Vietnam, but AirPods have so far been made exclusively in China by the likes of Inventec, Luxshare-ICT, and GoerTek. The move is said to be a consequence of Apple seeking to source 15 to 30 percent of its output outside of China, where cost and manpower advantages are beginning to fade.

Thanks to the continuing success of AirPods, Apple now dominates nearly 70 percent of the truly wireless headphone market. With Samsung, Huawei, Sony and Google bringing their own truly wireless headphones to market, global shipments of all wireless earbuds are forecast to surge from 48 million pairs in 2018 to 129 million pairs by 2020, according to Counterpoint.

Apple plans to release third-generation AirPods with water resistance in late 2019, according to multiple rumors. The first two generations of AirPods do not have IP-rated water or dust resistance, despite standing up to water exposure well.

In March 2019, Apple launched its second-generation AirPods powered by an Apple-designed H1 chip, enabling hands-free "Hey Siri" functionality and up to 50 percent more talk time compared to the original AirPods. The second-generation AirPods feature the same outward design as the original.

In April, reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said two new AirPods models will likely go into mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, with one of the new models featuring an "all-new form factor design" and a "higher price" than the second-generation AirPods, which start at $159.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
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AirPods 3 With Water Resistance Expected to Launch Later This Year

Apple plans to release third-generation AirPods with water resistance in late 2019, according to Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives. The first two generations of AirPods do not have IP-rated water or dust resistance.


In a research note this week, shared by Philip Elmer-DeWitt, Ives said the new AirPods will be released in time for the holiday shopping season this year and may also feature some unspecified design enhancements. AirPods have had the same design since the original pair launched in December 2016.

This information lines up with several rumors about new AirPods launching later this year.

In April, reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said two new AirPods models will likely go into mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, with one of the new models featuring an "all-new form factor design" and a "higher price" than the second-generation AirPods, which start at $159.

Both new AirPods models are said to adopt a new system-in-package design internally, which can improve assembly yield rates, save space internally, and reduce costs, but Kuo did not elaborate on outward-facing design changes.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman was first to reveal Apple's roadmap for future AirPods, including the second-generation pair with "Hey Siri" support and an optional wireless charging case that launched in late March. DigiTimes also expects third-generation AirPods to launch by the end of the year.

In addition to water resistance, DigiTimes claimed the so-called AirPods 3 will feature noise cancelation. But with multiple AirPods and also Apple-branded over-ear headphones rumored to be in development for launch over the next year or so, it is too early to say exactly which features will be coming to each model.

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Deals Spotlight: AirPods With Charging Case Discounted to $145 ($14 Off), AirPods With Wireless Charging Case Still $19 Off

Amazon is continuing its discounts on Apple's AirPods this week, with a new markdown on the updated AirPods with Charging Case. During the sale, you can get this version of the AirPods for $144.99, down from $159.00.

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Representing savings of $14, this is currently the best sale on the AirPods with Charging Case available online. It's joining Amazon's existing discount on the AirPods with Wireless Charging Case, which is on sale for $179.99, down from $199.00.

Amazon also has the standalone Wireless Charging Case discounted to $69.99 ($9 off), but as of writing it's temporarily out of stock. Apple introduced the new AirPods back in March, updating the wireless headphones with "Hey Siri" support, 50 percent more talk time, and speedier device switching while listening to music.

As another note, Amazon today also has a Gold Box deal on Apple's 12-inch MacBook from 2017. You can get the 256GB model of the notebook in refurbished condition for $849.99, down from $1,099.99. The retailer is offering three colors of the MacBook on sale, including Gold, Space Gray, and Rose Gold.

For more sales and bargains, be sure to visit our full Deals Roundup.

Related Roundups: Apple Deals, AirPods 2
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Deals Spotlight: AirPods With Wireless Charging Case Discounted to $179.99 ($19 Off)

Amazon is discounting the new AirPods with Wireless Charging Case today, now priced at $179.99, down from $199.00 ($19 off). Apple launched the new version of the AirPods in March, making this one of the first notable price drops of the headphones seen this year.

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This is the version with the Wireless Charging Case, allowing you to place the AirPods on any Qi-compatible charging mat to easily refuel the case and the AirPods. In March, Apple also launched the AirPods with Charging Case and the standalone Wireless Charging Case, both of which have seen more consistent discounts than the AirPods with Wireless Charging Case.

Those interested can also save on the standalone Wireless Charging Case for AirPods on Amazon right now. It's on sale for $69.99, down from $79.00 ($9 off).

We keep track of all AirPods deals each week right here, and you can check out other discounts and bargains in our full Deals Roundup.

Related Roundups: Apple Deals, AirPods 2
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HomePod Gaining Handoff Support, AirPods Get Audio Sharing Feature

Apple at WWDC 2019 today announced that the HomePod is gaining Handoff support, allowing users to place an iPhone near the HomePod to hand over music, podcast, or a phone call.


Apple also announced that AirPods are getting a new Audio Sharing feature, allowing users to share a song or movie with a friend with just a tap.

Apple's WWDC 2019 keynote is underway. Stay tuned for updates…

Related Roundups: WWDC 2019, HomePod, AirPods 2
Tag: Handoff

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How Do Apple’s New Powerbeats Pro Compare to AirPods?

Earlier this week, we shared a hands-on look at the Powerbeats Pro earbuds launching tomorrow, and today, we thought we'd do an in-depth comparison with the AirPods, giving MacRumors readers a closer look at the similarities and differences between the two devices.

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AirPods and Powerbeats Pro look nothing alike, as the former is designed for casual use and the latter is aimed at those who live a more active lifestyle. The AirPods feature an iconic design that's reminiscent of the EarPods design Apple has used for years, with the earbuds meant to fit ears of all shapes and sizes with no customization.

The Powerbeats Pro are more similar to traditional earbuds, with silicone tips that nestle in the ear and an earhook to hold them firmly in place. The silicone tips come in four sizes, but the earhooks, which wrap around the ear, are one size. These earhooks make sure the Powerbeats Pro stay firmly in place during physical activity.


The silicone tips of the Powerbeats Pro are meant to fit tightly in the ear, which produces a sound isolating - but not noise canceling - effect that dampens ambient noise. The AirPods have no such feature so ambient sound is more audible. Apple has also designed the Powerbeats Pro with IPX4 water resistance while the AirPods have no specific Ingress Protection rating, which means Powerbeats Pro should better hold up to sweat.

Both the AirPods and the Powerbeats Pro have been described as comfortable to most people in reviews and hands-on accounts, though some reviewers have called the Powerbeats Pro even more comfortable than the AirPods despite the earhook, while others find the AirPods easier to wear. The earhook is soft enough that it's not a hassle to wear for longer periods of time, and in our testing, it even fit well with sunglasses.


The Powerbeats Pro are much larger than the AirPods, and while the case that charges them up is similar in functionality to the AirPods case, it's much larger and it's not pocketable, plus it doesn't have wireless charging support and can only charge with a Lightning cable. The Powerbeats Pro only come in black right now, but this summer, Apple is going to release moss, ivory, and navy shades. The AirPods are limited to white.

There are major physical differences between the Powerbeats Pro and the AirPods, but the underlying feature set is the same and the two share similar hardware. Both include Bluetooth 5.0 and an H1 chip for quick pairing, fast device switching, and hands-free "Hey Siri" support. An accelerometer and other sensors also allow AirPods and Powerbeats Pro to pause audio when removed from the ear and resume when the earbud is placed back in the ear.


Music controls are included, and while tap gestures are used on the AirPods for changing tracks and playing/pausing, there are physical controls on the Powerbeats Pro, including a volume button, something the AirPods don't have. As for sound quality, the Powerbeats Pro sound better than the AirPods, which shouldn't come as a surprise given the larger body and the higher price tag.

In our experience, the Powerbeats Pro feature a more immersive and full sound profile because of the tight fit in the ears. Apple says that sound quality was a focus when designing the Powerbeats Pro, and it shows. The AirPods still sound great, though, and are more than adequate for everyday use.

For those who have been wondering, the Powerbeats Pro do indeed support Live Listen, as do the AirPods. Live Listen lets you use the iPhone as a microphone to amplify the ambient noise around you so you can better hear what's going on. As a side note, both AirPods and Powerbeats Pro have beamforming microphones so they sound great when using them for phone calls.


When it comes to battery life, the Powerbeats Pro win out. They're bigger and house a bigger battery than the AirPods, boasting up to nine hours of battery life per earbud and an additional 24+ hours through the case. AirPods max out at about five hours, though the AirPods case also adds 24+ hours of battery life. As for phone calls, Apple says the Powerbeats Pro offer six hours of talk time while the AirPods offer up to three hours of talk time.

Beyond design, pricing is one of the major differences between the Powerbeats Pro and the AirPods. Apple sells the second-generation AirPods with Wireless Charging Case for $199 and with standard case for $159, while the Powerbeats Pro cost $250.

For a deeper comparison of the Powerbeats Pro vs. the AirPods, make sure to check out our Powerbeats Pro and AirPods guide, which walks through the two audio accessories feature by feature. Our dedicated Powerbeats Pro guide also has everything you need to know about Apple's newest earbuds.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)

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Apple Supplier Ramps Up Production of AirPods 2 Parts to Meet High Demand

The manufacturer of rigid-flex printed circuit boards (PCBs) used in Apple's AirPods 2 is ramping up production of the technology into early 2020 at least, despite rumors that Apple will launch two new AirPods models as early as this year with a different internal design.


DigiTimes reports that Apple supplier Unitech Printed Circuit Board still sees the rigid-flex PCB combination as the mainstream technology for truly wireless headphones, and will expand its production capacity in Taiwan by 25-30 percent in 2019 to meet increased demand from clients.

In contrast, Apple's two new AirPods models are expected to make use of SiP (system in package) technology, which will improve assembly yield rates, save internal space and reduce cost.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo forecasts that the two new models will likely go into mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.

Kuo has said one of the new AirPods models will feature an "all-new form factor design" and a "higher price" than the second-generation AirPods, which cost $159 with a standard charging case and $199 with a wireless charging case. The other model is expected to be a more iterative update to AirPods 2 with the same pricing.

In March 2019, Apple launched its second-generation AirPods powered by an Apple-designed H1 chip, enabling hands-free "Hey Siri" functionality and up to 50 percent more talk time compared to the original AirPods. The second-generation AirPods feature the same outward design as the original.

Bloomberg reported that Apple's third-generation AirPods will feature a new design and perhaps improved water resistance that will allow the AirPods to hold up to "splashes of water and rain."

The AirPods aren't likely to be entirely water resistant, however, and won't be able to be submerged in liquid. These third-generation AirPods are also rumored to include noise cancellation features and increase the distance that AirPods can be listened to away from an iPhone or iPad.

Samsung, Huawei, Sony and Google are all actively developing their own truly wireless headphones, many of which are expected to use the older rigid-flex PCB technology. Apple now dominates nearly 70 percent of the truly wireless headphone market, according to DigiTimes, suggesting Apple's adoption of the new SiP tech could give the company an even greater advantage over rivals as the market continues to grow.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
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Deals Spotlight: Get the 2019 AirPods With Charging Case for $140 ($19 Off) and Wireless Charging Case for $70 ($9 Off)

Amazon is discounting the 2019 AirPods with Charging Case to $139.99, down from $159.00. Apple just refreshed the AirPods last month with an updated H1 chip and "Hey Siri" support, and also launched the AirPods with Wireless Charging Case at $199.

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Amazon is also offering just the Wireless Charging Case by itself at a discount. You can get the accessory for $69.99, down from $79.00 ($9 off). The Wireless Charging Case is aimed at users who have a pair of the original AirPods and don't want to upgrade to AirPods 2. By just purchasing the case, they can gain wireless charging features for the older model.

These are some of the first major discounts for the 2019 AirPods since they launched in March. Shoppers should note that the AirPods with Charging Case won't ship until May 7, 2019, and that the Wireless Charging Case will take 2-4 weeks to ship. It's unclear how long the sale will last, so visit Amazon soon to place an order if you're interested.

2019 AirPods Sale

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Kuo: Two New AirPods Models Likely in Late 2019 to Early 2020, Including One With ‘All-New Design’

Apple will likely launch two new AirPods models as early as the fourth quarter of 2019, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


In his latest research note, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo forecasts that two new AirPods models will likely go into mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, with Luxshare, Goertek, and Amkor expected to be Apple's primary suppliers of the new earphones.

Kuo believes one of the new AirPods models will feature an "all-new form factor design" and a "higher price" than the second-generation AirPods, which cost $159 with a standard charging case and $199 with a wireless charging case. The other model is expected to be a more iterative update with the same pricing.

Both new AirPods models are said to adopt a new system-in-package design internally, which can improve assembly yield rates, save space internally, and reduce costs, but Kuo does not elaborate on outward-facing design changes.

The lead excerpt from Kuo's research note:
We expect Apple will likely launch two new AirPods models in 4Q19 at the earliest. One is the all-new form factor design at a higher price. The other's outlook and price will be the same as the current model's. A common internal design factor of these two new AirPods will be to abandon the current "SMT+RFPCB" design and change to adopt the SiP design instead for improving assembly yield rates, saving internal space and reducing cost.
Kuo is "positive on the demand for AirPods" and Apple's wireless headphones market share, as he believes the "all-new design" of one of the new models "could boost the replacement demand and attract new users." He estimates AirPods shipments will reach 52 million units in 2019 and 75-85 million units in 2020.

Last month, Apple launched second-generation AirPods powered by an Apple-designed H1 chip, enabling hands-free "Hey Siri" functionality and up to 50 percent more talk time compared to the original AirPods. The second-generation AirPods feature the same outward design as the original.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman was first to reveal Apple's roadmap for AirPods, including the second-generation pair with "Hey Siri" support, while DigiTimes also expects third-generation AirPods to launch by the end of the year.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)

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Report Claims AirPods 3 With Noise Canceling Feature to Launch Later This Year

DigiTimes reports this morning that Apple is set to launch third-generation AirPods with a noise cancelation function by the end of the year, contradicting an earlier rumor that said Apple's AirPods 3 have been pushed back to 2020.

Apple is reportedly set to release its third-generation AirPods for sales by the end of 2019, with the new wireless earphones to incorporate a noise cancellation function. And Taiwan's Inventec reportedly will be the major assembler of AirPods 3, while China's Luxshare Precision will also grab part of the orders for the new device, according to industry sources.
Today's report claims that Apple will fend off competition from rival brands of true wireless earbuds by including a noise-canceling function in its third-generation AirPods, although doing so could throw up new design and assembly challenges.
The sources said that noise cancellation is not a new technology, but a technology hard to harness. On the one hand, semiconductor devices can hardly work without suffering electromagnetic disturbance, and on the other hand how the structural design of the noise forward feedback microphone can be done well to achieve harmonious operation with other devices is a great challenge for designers and assemblers.

In addition, earphones with noise-cancellation function will consume more power than those without, and it remains to be seen how Apple will do to reduce power consumption, the sources indicated.
Taiwan's Inventec is said to be uniquely positioned to meet the production challenges of AirPods 3, thanks to its extensive assembly experiences, giving the manufacturer a better chance of winning assembly orders from Apple than China's Luxshare Precision. As it stands, the assemblers command an equal share of orders for AirPods 2.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has also claimed that Apple's third-generation AirPods could include noise cancellation features, as well as a new design, and perhaps improved water resistance that will allow the AirPods to hold up to "splashes of water and rain."

However, Gurman believes that AirPods 3 now won't be ready until next year, and that aligns better with the current consensus. Apple only launched AirPods 2 with optional wireless charging and hands-free Siri functionality in March 2019, making the introduction of another model this year seem unlikely, but not impossible.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)

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