Apple AirPods Lite: Release Date, Price, Specs, Rumors and More

A cheaper AirPods model are expected to come on sale by 2024.
A cheaper AirPods model are expected to come on sale by 2024.

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We round up the rumors about AirPods Lite, including price and potential launch date.

While AirPods are undoubtedly popular, many budget-conscious consumers find them expensive and navigate toward cheaper brands.

That could change with the rumored launch of an affordable model, the only downside being that we don’t know much about the product yet.

Even so, there are a few predictions about the so-called AirPods Lite floating around, and we’ve gathered them in one place. Let’s dive in!

AirPods Lite is the colloquial term for the rumored product, but the budget-friendly AirPods will probably have a name more relevant to the Apple brand. Our money is on AirPods SE or AirPods Mini.

When Is the AirPods Lite Release Date?

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's prediction on AirPods Lite
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s prediction on AirPods Lite

The AirPods Lite are expected to hit the market in late 2024 or early 2025, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

This follows the October 2021 release of the Apple AirPods 3, in line with Apple’s typical two-to-three-year update cycle for their earbuds.

Whispers about the model have circulated since January 2023, when industry sources revealed that lower-priced Apple earbuds are in the works.

How Much Will the Apple AirPods Lite Cost?

The same Ming-Chi Kuo states that the Apple AirPods Lite will be priced at $99.

While you can find more affordable AirPods alternatives, users still have to pay the Apple tax, so it’s unlikely that Apple would go any lower. Still, keeping them around $100 would make them more accessible to users, especially given the ongoing cost of living crisis.

The AirPods 2 are the cheapest Apple earbuds currently sold in the company’s online store, retailing for $129. At the very least, AirPods Lite would cost less.

What Will the AirPods Lite Look Like?

We expect the AirPods Lite to boast the same minimalist design the AirPods line is known for. That means they will likely be white, with no removable ear tips. But touch controls for changing volume or skipping tracks would be welcome.

As the earbuds will probably target users who find AirPods appealing but are reluctant to purchase them due to the high price, a design overhaul doesn’t make a lot of sense.

However, it will be interesting to see whether the AirPods Lite will have long stems, like the AirPods 2, or a more compact design, like the AirPods 3.

Either way, it’s almost a given that they will come with a USB-C charging case since Apple is updating its products to comply with European regulations.

What Features Can We Expect From the AirPods Lite?

Given the affordable price tag, the AirPods Lite are unlikely to offer premium features like Active Noise Cancellation or Spatial Audio.

Still, users can expect basic AirPods features like Find My, Audio Sharing, and Hey Siri. Additionally, here’s what we would like to see:

Great sound quality

While Apple might dispose of advanced features to keep production costs low, we fully expect the company to deliver in terms of sound quality. After all, consumers won’t invest in earbuds that don’t sound good.

The AirPods Lite might not feature the H2 chip the company launched with the AirPods Pro 2, but the H1 chip in the AirPods 3 is nothing to scoff at. The earbuds should sound good for both music and calls, earning them a place among the best earbuds for iPhones.

Long battery life

The AirPods 3 and the AirPods Pro 2 last up to 6 hours on a single battery charge, so the AirPods Lite will at least match this.

Nonetheless, they could up the ante, considering there are earbuds with long battery life that offer 10 to 12 hours of uninterrupted listening time.

A long battery life would give them a big selling point and make them appealing to consumers who spend most of their time out and about.

Sweat and water resistance

Unlike the AirPods 3 or the AirPods Pro 2, the AirPods 2 aren’t sweat and water-resistant. That said, the market has become more competitive since the second generation of AirPods dropped.

Users have come to expect their earbuds to withstand sweat damage, especially since many wear them during workouts. All in all, making the AirPods Lite sweat and water-resistant would be a clever move.

Stable connectivity

So far, the AirPods line only supports Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. Upcoming models like AirPods Lite might support Bluetooth 5.3 in the vein of AirPods Pro 2 or even Bluetooth LE Audio technology.

The latter would translate to extra perks like a more stable connection, battery efficiency, and the ability to connect more pairs of AirPods to a single device.

Moreover, we expect AirPods Lite to support automatic pairing and switching with iOS devices, fitting flawlessly within the Apple ecosystem. Unfortunately, we doubt the company will make similar concessions for those outside it.

What Do Users Want From the AirPods Lite?

After scouring forums and social media, the most important thing users seem to want from affordable AirPods is good battery life. We also found a few outliers with more specific demands:

  • Smaller design: Some users find AirPods too noticeable and would like the more affordable version to be on the small side.
  • Spatial Audio: Some users would be tempted by affordable AirPods if they support Spatial Audio.
  • Good call quality: Some users aren’t satisfied with the AirPods’ microphone quality, so AirPods Lite capturing voice well in noisy environments would be an upgrade.

Whether or not the AirPods Lite will appease consumers, time will tell. Until they hit the market, keep an eye out for sales. Depending on luck, you might be able to grab the reliable AirPods 2 for as little as $99.

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