Apple may make what it says is the "world's most popular headphone" -- the AirPods -- but lest anyone forget, it's the owner of another headphone company, Beats, which will have its own true wireless competitor hitting the market shortly. A cord-free version of the Beats PowerBeats wireless sports earphones will be announced in April, according to a person close to the retail channel who has previously provided credible information to CNET.
We've seen this game plan before. After Apple released the AirPods in the fall of 2016, Beats also announced new headphones, including the BeatsX, which incorporated Apple's latest headphone chip, the W1.
Read: Beats Powerbeats Pro full CNET review
Similarly, the new true wireless PowerBeats earphones are expected to use Apple's new H1 chip and have the same always-on Siri voice-assistant as the new AirPods, as well as the other connectivity improvements that the H1 is supposed to deliver. The battery life may also be better than the AirPods.
Beats hasn't had a major headphone release since the Beats Studio3 Wireless, which was updated with the W1 chip and improved sound in June of 2018. The brand is overdue to update its line.
The new PowerBeats could serve as an alternative to people who were hoping the new AirPods would include design improvements that would help keep them more securely in more people's ears, and offer features like better bass and water resistance. Those features will most likely be available in the new PowerBeats.
The big question is price. The person I spoke to didn't have any details on the cost, but the list price of the PowerBeats3 Wireless is $200. You can actually pick them up for as low as $90 on Amazon and Best Buy has them on sale for $100 off, which is also a pretty good indication that something new is coming.
It wouldn't be surprising if Beats stuck a list price of $250 on the new PowerBeats, although that's too high and wouldn't end up being the real street price. In my opinion, they have to cost $200 or less to compete with the AirPods, which are priced from $159 to $199.
We'll update this post as we get more info, but it should be an interesting next few months as more companies, including Apple's own Beats, put out compelling AirPod alternatives.