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Production of cheaper AirPods Pro reportedly moving forward amid coronavirus

The production of the rumored cheaper version of Apple’s AirPods Pro, dubbed the AirPods Pro Lite, is reportedly moving forward even while the coronavirus outbreak has gripped the mobile device industry.

Earlier this month, an unverified report from DigiTimes via MacRumors claimed that Apple is preparing cheaper AirPods Pro. The device was mentioned within Apple’s supposed plan to shift some of its production from China to Taiwan to try to maintain manufacturing numbers amid the coronavirus lockdowns.

Apple’s Taiwanese partners will reportedly handle more production of the next-generation iPad, Apple Watch, and iMac devices, in addition to the AirPods Pro Lite. Not much else was said about the new version of Apple’s wireless earbuds.

A new report from DigiTimes, however, reveals that the production of the AirPods Pro Lite is taking shape.

Taiwan’s Universal Scientific Industrial, owned by ASE Technology, will reportedly likely obtain system-in-package orders for the AirPods Pro Lite, joining US-based AMkor, China’s JCET, and Japan’s Murata in scrambling for the backend orders of the wireless earbuds.

There is a chance that USI will win a higher portion of the AirPods Pro Lite orders, DigiTimes’ sources said, and the company is expected to significantly rely on supply from Taiwanese PCB makers for the production of the devices.

According to DigiTimes, the AirPods Pro Lite is set to launch in mid-2020, but sources said that shipments of the new model will likely be delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The AirPods Pro with the wireless charging case sell for $249, while the second-generation AirPods with the same case retail for $199, or $159 with a standard charging case. It is unclear where the AirPods Pro Lite will be positioned in between the two models.

If reports of the product are true, the AirPods Pro Lite may push down the price of the second-generation AirPods to take their place in the $199 range. There is also the possibility that Apple will end the AirPods line and only offer two versions of the AirPods Pro.

The second-generation AirPods still draw most of the orders for Apple’s wireless earbuds, according to DigiTimes. but shipments of the AirPods Pro series are expected to increase to up to 50% of total AirPods sales by the end of the year.

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