Fake AirPods cases that feature a display screen are popping up all over the internet

Mike Powers
Fake AirPods cases that feature a display screen are popping up all over the internet

TL;DR: At some point there were leaks of Apple plans for an AirPods case that featured a display screen. Whether this plan is still in motion remains unknown. However, at least one manufacturer found the concept promising enough to develop knockoff versions of Apple’s patent. According to one reviewer, the sound quality of these knockoffs is terrible. Nonetheless, the case itself demonstrates that Apple’s idea had merit.

About a year ago, the US Patent and Trademark Office published a patent filed by Apple in September 2021 for a set of AirPods that came with a built-in touchscreen display and case. The users could control the AirPods from the screen as well as perform a number of other functions with it, such as skipping or pausing a song.

Clearly someone thought this was a good enough idea, and now a counterfeit version of the device has emerged from a Chinese manufacturer, claiming to fulfill much of what Apple envisioned in its patent.

Dan Barbera of MacRumors got a hold of one of these devices to see how well it performed and whether it matched Apple’s vision. His first impression was that the case has exactly what the patent described. Once he changed the language setting to English, Barbera was offered a number of options besides controlling the music playback and volume.

The screen lets users find their headphones, for instance, and control the iPhone’s camera. It even comes equipped with a camera. Also, there’s an equalizer setting that offers pre configured music profiles such as Rock or Jazz. The compliments stopped short, though, when Barbera assessed the sound quality of the device, calling it “terrible.”

The ripped off model provides a tangible example of why Apple even dreamed up this concept though. There are a number of viable use cases for the device. For example, if the case could connect to Wi-Fi, you could stream music without an iPhone and the case with the display screen would be a good substitute for basic control.

The fake display case does prompt the question whether Apple will ever follow through with its patent, albeit with better sound quality. That is difficult to say, and inherent shortcomings like battery life would come to mind as the first showstoppers, but it should be noted that Apple is rumored to be working on more mundane developments around its AirPods.

The company is reportedly planning to launch new entry-level AirPods (fourth-gen) by the end of this year alongside an upgraded AirPods Max 2. The tip came from Apple insider Jeff Pu, who claims that the upcoming affordable earbuds will be marketed as ‘AirPods Lite’ and be manufactured in India by Foxconn.

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