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Rumored cheaper AirPods Pro could replace Apple’s AirPods

Apple’s AirPods Pro aren’t just a bit better than the company’s AirPods — they’re miles better, yet they only cost $50 more. So a new rumor that the company might be readying a cheaper version of its AirPods Pro true wireless earbuds, known as “AirPod [sic] Pro Lite,” raises a lot of questions about the future of the AirPods themselves.

The report comes to us from DigiTimes via MacRumors, and Digital Trends has not been able to verify the report directly. The details of the AirPods Pro Lite — which amount to no more than a reference to the name — are apparently buried amid a larger report describing Apple’s plans to alleviate its coronavirus manufacturing woes by shifting some production to Taiwan.

MacRumors quoted this passage from the report:

Apple, maintaining partnerships with supply chains in both Taiwan and China, may have its Taiwanese partners handle more production of new-generation ‌iPad‌, ‌Apple Watch‌, AirPod Pro Lite and ‌iMac‌ devices to be released later, as the epidemic has raised risks of raw materials supply shortages and shipments disruptions arising from uncertain resumption of normal operations at components suppliers and assembly plants in China, the sources said.

With so little to go on, it’s tough to say how a theoretical AirPods Pro Lite would figure into Apple’s plans, given the narrow price window that already exists between its two true wireless models.

Apple AirPods Pro
Image used with permission by copyright holder

That said, given just how much better the AirPods Pro are compared to the AirPods, it could be that Apple would simply abandon the existing AirPods design in favor of two styles of AirPods Pro.

The premier feature of the AirPods Pro is its active noise cancellation (ANC), which has been hailed as being the equal of rival Sony’s WF-1000XM3, the leader in true wireless ANC. However, that feature is likely an expensive element that Apple could remove while keeping the rest of the AirPods Pro’s features intact.

Those features include Apple’s adaptive EQ, improved sound quality, better fit, and IPX4 protection from water. If the AirPods Pro Lite were essentially AirPods Pro but without ANC, and sold at the same price as its current AirPods, it would be a worthy upgrade for would-be AirPods buyers who might not want to shell out $249 for the AirPods Pro.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like…
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