Apple’s next-generation AirPods in-ear product will move to a more complex package system chip solution, replacing the surface-mount technology used in current versions of the device, according to TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo .
Compared to SMT technology, SiP systems typically allow manufacturers to package more components in a smaller footprint. For example, Apple’s AirPods Pro uses a SiP design with an Apple-designed H1 chip that handles audio, Siri controls, noise cancellation features and more.
The tech giant in Cupertino will introduce chip packaging technology for its AirPods product for the first time in 2021, Kuo said in a research note on Monday. What exactly this means for end users remains uncertain, although it can generate a trickle effect for more advanced features enjoyed by the owners of the Pro-designated variant.
Kuo in Monday’s note reiterates Apple’s intention to transfer the so-called “AirPods 3” to a design similar to the AirPods Pro, a measure that shows a long-awaited design for the first time in 2016. SiP technology is probably a necessity in adoption the reduced form factor.
With the “AirPods 3” expected in the first half of 2021, AirPods Pro parts suppliers of the current generation are expected to see component shipments grow by 50% to 100% year after year, notes Kuo. Amkor, JCET and potential newcomer Huanxu Electronics will benefit from the transition to SiP technology, as will AirPods hinge manufacturers Shin Zu Shing. Varta and Sunwoda Electronic are expected to progress as suppliers of coin-cell batteries and cases, respectively, while automakers Goertek and Luxshare will have similar benefits.
Despite the new design of “AirPods 3”, the total number of AirPods shipments is expected to decrease in 2021 and grow 28% per year. This compares to an explosive growth rate of 65.1% that Kuo expects until 2020, a huge increase in part due to the discontinuation of free EarPods with the “iPhone 12.”