Next year's iPhones — tentatively dubbed iPhone 12 — are expected to break the hype meter with a redesign, faster performance, better cameras, and 5G. They might also come with AirPods in the box, according to DigiTimes (via MacRumors). It's wishful thinking at best. Apple isn't about to give out free wireless earbuds that it charges at least $160 for.
Everyone's bundling earbuds — The report says Apple might bundle iPhones with AirPods because Samsung and Xiaomi are reportedly planning to do so. Apple may feel pressured to include true wireless earbuds to compete with its largest competitors, but the company has also never followed trends.
AirPods are Apple's new cash cow — Apple currently fulfills several price tiers: AirPods ($159), AirPods with wireless charging case ($199), and AirPods Pro ($249). Not only would AirPods be pricey to bundle (the wired EarPods retail for $29 in comparison), but doing so would eat into the major revenue growth the wireless earbuds now contribute to. In its Q4 2019 earnings report, Apple said its Wearables category, which includes AirPods, Apple Watch, and accessories grew 55% year-over-year. During the earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said, "the AirPods just keep hitting new highs."
Sketchy source — DigiTimes has a very hit-or-miss track record. Though, it sources information from Asia's supply chain, its reports should always be taken with a grain of salt. The trade publication's no Ming-Chi Kuo or Mark Gurman, two reporters who consistently and accurately report on unannounced Apple products and features.