There's no doubt that Apple's current AirPods Pro are starting to get a bit long in the tooth. They were announced in 2019 and have since been surpassed by Apple's own AirPods 3 in terms of sound quality and multiple rivals in terms of features.
That could all be about to change with rumors of a new pair of AirPods Pro on the horizon. According to reports these should debut by the end of the year and could bring a series of big upgrades to resolidify them as Apple's best true wireless earbuds for a few more years to come.
Here's everything we know so far.
AirPods Pro 2 launch and possible release date
Apple insider Ming-Chi Kuo says that Apple will release new AirPods Pro earbuds in 2022), which has been echoed by Mark Gurman who says they are coming this year.
More recently and specifically, Ming-Chi Kuo says that Apple's AirPods Pro 2 will enter mass production in the second half of 2022, launching before the end of the year. That could fall perfectly around the launch of iPhone 14, or at one of Apple's events later in the year. AirPods Pro came out in 2019 but didn't even appear at a keynote, instead being unveiled by a simple press release.
AirPods Pro 2 Design changes
Reports have indicated that Apple is at least testing a new design of AirPods that will get rid of their trademark stem, making them smaller and reflecting a design more similar to Apple's Beats Studio Buds. However, more recent leaks and renders suggest that the buds themselves actually look set to retain a design much the same as the old pair. That means we can expect the same white, stemmed design with silicone tips. Apple might change the design of the AirPods Pro 2 case, but more on that later.
AirPods Pro 2 audio
Apple's AirPods Pro 2 are expected to bring a major upgrade in terms of audio quality over the previous pair, a much-needed change given Apple's AirPods 3 actually sound better.
The biggest rumored change is possible support for lossless audio. According to Ming-Chi Kuo Apple will add support for wireless lossless audio and higher quality songs on Apple Music. This would indicate Apple is going to improve on current connectivity which doesn't have the bandwidth for lossless audio. In the iOS 16 beta, a new feature brings support for the LC3 Bluetooth audio codec to AirPods Max that improves power consumption and audio quality, extending battery life and making the audio sound better.
AirPods Pro 2 noise cancellation
AirPods Pro 2 are expected to feature active noise cancellation just like the first generation. However, we've heard that Apple may actually try and improve on this with a new self-adaptive active noise cancellation that could prove more useful in reacting to changes in ambient noise in your surroundings.
AirPods Pro 2 case, charging, USB-C
While AirPods Pro 2 might not be getting a fresh design, rumors suggest the case certainly is.
Two sets of leaked images from MacRumors and 52 Audio reveal that AirPods Pro will feature a new case that has a USB-C connector rather than lightning. Ming-Chi Kuo reported in May that Apple would be switching all of its accessories including AirPods to USB-C, however more recently he has poured cold water on reports of USB-C in this year's AirPods.
Kuo has previously stated that AirPods Pro 2 will feature a new charging case that has improved Find My functionality. We can also expect MagSafe charging, and recent reports indicate that fast charging is also on the cards.
AirPods Pro 2 Features
AirPods Pro 2 may also include new features. One report has suggested they might even include motion sensors for fitness tracking:
From Mark Gurman:
Apple Inc. is readying a revamp of its entry-level AirPods for this year and a second generation of the AirPods Pro for next year, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The new base AirPods will mark the first update to the product since March 2019 and will add a new design that mostly mirrors that of the AirPods Pro. The earbuds will come with a new case and shorter stems poking out of the bottom of each one. The AirPods Pro coming next year will be the first change to that product since October 2019 and will include updated motion sensors with a focus on fitness tracking, the people said, asking not to be named because the plans are private.
The new AirPods will also benefit from changes in iOS 15 that bring Find My support, linking your AirPods to your Apple ID. A recent report has indicated that Apple's AirPods 2 may feature new health features including heart rate monitoring and detection.
AirPods Pro 2 Price and availability
Currently priced at $249, its likely Apple would look for a similar price point for its next headphones, whilst possibly reducing the price of the current AirPods Pro. There have not yet been any leaks from reputable sources about the price point for the new AirPods Pro 2, however, given the number of upgrades on the cards it would not be surprising if the new buds are more expensive than the previous set.
One piece of insight from Ming-Chi Kuo claims that Apple's decision to keep it's AirPods 2 on sale after the launch of AirPods 3 has really hurt sales of the latter and that Apple is not going to make the same mistake again. That means Apple itself will likely discontinue AirPods Pro, meaning only third-party outlets will stock them.