The fear with the rumors is that Apple may be using the bundling of AirPods with the 2020 iPhone models to justify further price hikes -- especially considering that the smartphones are expected to be Apple's first with 5G. If prices stay about the same as they are currently and the AirPod are included as a value add, this would be a good thing. Bundling of the AirPods might entice buyers who are holding onto their older iPhones to upgrade.
According to DigiTimes, Apple isn't alone in this move. Samsung and Xiaomi are also considering bundling of their respective true wireless stereo earbuds in the box with their future smartphones. Samsung has the popular Galaxy Buds that also include a wireless charging case like the AirPods.
Considering that Samsung's Galaxy Buds are well over $100 at their cheapest and the AirPods sell for $159 alone, unless price hikes are coming with the new devices, this rumor sounds suspect. We have a long time to go before we know if this rumor is accurate, as we are about ten months away from the unveiling of next year's iPhone models.
Apple announced its new AirPods Pro in October with a retail price of $249. Perhaps the cost to make the standard AirPods has declined to the point where Apple can bundle them in and maintain its infamous margins.