KGI: Analyst believes Apple to launch ‘upgraded’ AirPods in second half of 2018

Apple analyst KGI Ming-Chi Kuo today released a report indicating Apple will launch a new version of AirPods in the second half of 2018. The analyst does not go into much detail about what exactly will change in the next-generation model, however he notes that they will adopt a smaller quartz component.

Apple has already announced a new AirPower inductive charging case for next year. It seems that Apple may also be lining up a small update to the earbuds, if KGI’s reporting proves accurate.

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KGI also addresses the supply constraints Apple is currently experiencing with AirPods. The Apple Online Store has run out of stock through the end of the year, with current orders estimated to be delivered in early January.

Ming-Chi Kuo says that the battery rigid-flex PCB is the main bottleneck in the supply chain. Reiterating his expectations that Apple will double AirPods shipments next year to more than 26 million units, the analyst believes Q1 AirPods could beat the usual sales fall compared to holiday seasonality.

Apple previewed AirPower and the new AirPods charging case at the September event, alongside iPhone X. It demoed the product – the first inductive charging mat able to charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods simultaneously – but did not talk availability or pricing. The best promise to date is a release ‘early next year’.

That does not sound like the same upgraded AirPods that KGI is talking about, with a second-half 2018 timeframe. Perhaps the AirPower mat may come out in the spring, but the AirPods charging case will launch later. It would be weird for Apple to start selling a new charging case mere months before refreshing the full product.

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Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.