There is a minor code adjustment in the iOS 14.2 update that supports this speculation. Back in May, analyst Ming-Chi also said that a new AirPod might be on the way. And iPhone 12, not including earphones, might be a marketing move.
In their recent post, MacRumors hints at the possibility with a comparison. It says that in all previous versions, Apple mentioned earphones as ‘supplied’. But this time, the word ‘supplied’ is completely removed.
In iOS 14.2, this wording has been tweaked to say just’ headphones,’ removing the ‘supplied’ part of this statement.
The revised statement on the post reads:
To reduce exposure to RF energy, use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, the headphones, or other similar accessories.
This aligns with what Tim Cook said in the Apple Watch 6 event. He said that the company is working on reducing its impact on the environment. The Apple Watch 6 came without a charging block.
So, it seems that Apple backtracked on its plan to offer free AirPods and power adapter on iPhone 12. This time the iPhone 12 is likely to ship only with a USB-C lightning connector cable.