After the surprise success of Apple's AirPods earphones, the California-based technology giant is planning a push into the high-end market.

Bloomberg reports Apple is working on noise-cancelling, over-ear headphones that they hope will rival similar products from market leaders like Bose and the company's own Beats by Dre brand.

Beats, Bose, Sennheiser, Sony and Skullcandy are all leading players in the headphone market, generating US$20 billion ($27.6b) in annual revenue by 2023, according to Bloomberg.

Researcher NPD Group said last year that sales of AirPods and Beats headphones gave Apple 27 per cent of the wireless headphone market and almost half the dollars spent on the category.

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Although Beats also sells lower-priced wireless headphones, a similar Apple-branded high-end headphone would likely cannibalise Beats.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Apple is tipped to be preparing to release a trio of new smartphones later this year: the largest iPhone ever, an upgraded handset the same size as the current iPhone X and a less expensive model with some of the flagship phone's key features.

With the new lineup, Apple wants to appeal to the growing number of consumers who crave the multitasking attributes of so-called phablets while also catering to those looking for a more affordable version of the iPhone X, according to people familiar with the products.

Apple, which is already running production tests with suppliers, is expected to announce the new phones this fall. The plans could still change, say the people, who requested anonymity to discuss internal planning.

Despite months of breathless hype, the iPhone X hasn't sold as well as expected since its debut last year. Apple sold 77.3 million iPhones in the final quarter of 2017, below analysts' projections of 80.2 million units.

Some consumers were turned off by the iPhone X's NZ$1,800 price despite liking the design even as they wanted something more cutting-edge than the cheaper iPhone 8. With its next lineup, Apple is seeking to rekindle sales by offering a model for everyone.

With a screen close to 6.5 inches, Apple's big new handset will be one of the largest mainstream smartphones on the market. While the body of the phone will be about the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus, the screen will be about an inch larger thanks to the edge-to-edge design used in the iPhone X. (Apple is unlikely to refer to the phone as a phablet, a term popularised by Samsung.)

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