Will AirPods start coming standard with new iPhones?

In this photo a new iPhone 11 Pro Max smartphone is seen on a wooden top.
Alex Tai/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

Any iPhone fan knows the deal by now: new year, new iPhone. As fall rolls around, we gear up for another new set of phones and prepare ourselves to pony up some cash to take one home. It's become something of a tradition, at least ever since 2011. Now, there are new iPhone rumors swirling around that Apple could be changing this release schedule, as early as 2021. According to analyst Samik Chatterjee, by way of JP Morgan, Apple's fall "phone royale" could be giving way to a two-step release cycle where one set of new phones launch in the summer and the other in the fall.

Ever since the iPhone 4s first debuted in 2011, Apple has used the coming of fall, around September, to showcase what's next for its flagship models. JPMorgan believes, however, that going forward there could be two waves of iPhone launches in 2021. One would happen during a timeframe around March through June, labeled "summer," and the other in the second half of the year, around when buyers normally start gearing up for the September spectacular.

Samsung has already adopted a similar schedule. We see the company's more expensive Galaxy phones earlier in the year, and then the fall brings a series of Note phones for buyers to peruse later in the year. Apple plays all of its cards later in the year, and has done so for nearly a decade now.

The idea isn't solely to compete with Samsung, though. JPMorgan believes that cutting up the rotation would help to bring some of the bigger flagship iPhone sales earlier in the year. This would ensure more regular earnings for Apple.

"Though the company’s fall iPhone launch events have become a mainstay, Chatterjee’s supply-chain checks indicate that Apple may begin staggering its iPhone introductions after this fall, and he now expects “a strategic change in the launch cadence with the release of two new iPhone models in 1H21 followed by another two in 2H21," MarketWatch explained.

But changing its release schedule may not be the only thing Apple has up its sleeve. According to the Taiwanese publication DigiTimes, the manufacturer could be looking to bundle its iPhone with AirPods as early as next year. That would be a lucrative offer for anyone looking to adopt one of the new phones, but other publications are quick to note that, due to its source, this rumor isn't expected to come true. As such, it's a bit questionable, but as we've learned over the years with Apple, what you see is not always what you get. AirPods, though, are a tough pill to swallow when it comes to what's packaged with your latest and greatest iPhone.

Typically, Apple includes much smaller EarPods (wired, of course) with a Lightning connector to plug into the phones, since they've done away with 3.5 mm jacks. They're only around $30 to purchase, should you lose the pair nestled away in your new iPhone package. So since Apple has stuck with a cheaper model here to provide customers with some semblance of audio solution (that actually sounds pretty great), it's hard to believe the company would do an about-face and start bundling one of its most popular items with an iPhone — especially as they start at $160, which would undoubtedly make the iPhone purchase price much steeper.

There are already rumors abound regarding the iPhone as we know it on the horizon, such as the fact that the newest models won't be switching to USB-C. Apple planning to split up its release schedule makes perfect sense, and it wouldn't be unusual to see the company making those types of moves. AirPods with every iPhone purchase, though? That would have to be seen to be believed.