While we’re less than six weeks away from the end of 2018, Apple is still mum about whether holiday shoppers can get their hands on the next generation of AirPods. Now leaked pictures are reviving hopes that the new headphones might be just around the corner.

Photos purporting to show AirPods 2 cases are making their rounds on Weibo and Chinese social media. The base appears to have a Lightning charging port, just like the original AirPods. But if they have a LED light on the exterior -- as seen in an iOS 12 beta last year -- it’s almost impossible to see.

Photos that claim to show the new AirPods cases. (Picture: Weibo/AppPerfectionle)

It’s impossible to verify pictures on social media. And one possible strike against the photo is that, above the cases, are what appear to be Apple Watches -- but they’re not the latest ones.

But there are signs that Apple is getting ready to launch new AirPods. Earlier this month, a new AirPods regulatory listing appeared on Bluetooth’s database, indicating that they would feature Bluetooth 5.0, which has improved range and battery life over Bluetooth 4.2 in current AirPods.

Back in October, reliable supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo forecast that Apple would release the new AirPods between later this year and early next year. Apple itself teased the earphones in a Mission Impossible-style spoof at its iPhone event in September, showing someone summoning Siri by saying “Hey, Siri” into the AirPods -- something not supported by the current model.

Apple also promised wireless charging for the AirPods 2 through its AirPower charging mat last year, though it has since removed all mentions of the device from its website.