The AirPods Pro are Apple’s answer to high-end true wireless earbuds, offering an improved fit, active noise cancellation, Dolby Atmos audio support and much more – but even capable buds like the AirPods Pro can grow long in the tooth, and fans have set their sights on the next-gen AirPods Pro 2.
While there are disputes about the changes on offer, the new AirPods Pro could feature an improved design alongside improved ANC capabilities and even fitness tracking, and they’re rumoured to be revealed this week. Here’s all you need to know.
When will the AirPods Pro 2 be released?
Leakers have long pointed towards 2022 as the year we’ll see the AirPods Pro 2, but when in 2022 was the topic of hot debate for some time.
More recently, rumours have begun swirling that Apple could be gearing up to reveal the Pro-level true wireless earbuds alongside the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8 at its September event, due to take place on Wednesday 7 September. We cover how to watch the Apple Event separately if you want to follow along live.
The main source of the rumour is Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who in an early September edition of his Power On! Newsletter claims that the buds are due to be revealed this week. “I reported last year that new AirPods Pro would arrive in 2022, and now I’m told that Wednesday will be their big unveiling.”
With that being said, it’s entirely possible that we could be seeing the AirPods Pro 2 at Apple’s September Event this week.
How much will the AirPods Pro 2 cost?
The good news – if you can call it good considering the premium price of the buds – is that Apple is allegedly looking to keep the AirPods Pro 2 at the same £239/$249 price tag as the original Pro buds. It makes sense considering just how popular the AirPods Pro are, even close to two years after release, still managing to attract an audience at the high-end price tag.
We’ve got a roundup of the best true wireless earbuds if you’re on the market for something a little cheaper and, y’know, available to buy right now.
AirPods Pro 2 rumours
There are big expectations around Apple’s AirPods Pro 2 considering the vast competition from high-end true wireless earbuds, and current leaks suggest Apple could be working on quite the upgrade.
Apple’s updated AirPods 3 sports a similar design to the first-gen AirPods Pro, so it makes sense that Apple might be ready to change things up in its Pro line to keep things distinct. A late 2020 Bloomberg report first shed some light on possible design changes from the upcoming Pro buds.
According to the publication, Apple was looking to make the AirPods Pro 2 even more compact, possibly by removing the stem that houses the beamforming mics and other smart technology. If Apple went ahead with the redesign, the AirPods Pro 2 would look similar in shape to the stemless Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro or second-gen Google Pixel Buds.
In fact, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests the form factor could be akin to the (Apple-owned) Beats Studio Buds.
The problem, it seems, is fitting all the required tech into an even smaller design, with Apple reportedly struggling to integrate the various antennae, microphones and tech into a stemless AirPod chassis.
And, with a first look at the redesigned AirPods Pro 2 via 52audio, it seems Apple couldn’t quite squeeze the tech into a stem-less design. The site provides not only renders of the alleged second-gen AirPods Pro, but plenty of technical details too.
Per 52audio’s report, though the AirPods Pro 2 earbuds may not look all that different, there are what looks like subtle changes on offer that reflect the design of the AirPods 3 including what looks to be the same skin detection sensor as the latest entry-level buds. There are also tweaked ear tips on offer, likely to improve the fit and the performance of the active noise cancellation.
What’s more interesting than the design of the buds themselves is the charging case – and you never thought we’d say that, right?
Looking at 52audio’s renders, there are new openings and ports on the bottom and sides of the second-gen AirPods Pro charging case. The design might not be as clean as we might be used to, but there are very good reasons for their inclusion.
Per the 52audio leak, the ports on the right of the buds feature a microphone for an improved hearing aid feature. The idea is that sound can be collected via the charging case and transmitted to the buds for sound enhancement and playback, helping those with hearing loss stay connected to conversations.
While you can find lost AirPods Pro buds using Find My app, there’s no way to find the case via Find My – but it looks like that’s about to change with the next-gen buds. The holes on the bottom of the next-gen caser are said to host speakers, allowing it to play a chime and be found more easily.
The more eagle-eyed among you will have also spotted a USB-C port in place of Lightning. With Apple converting the iPad range from Lightning to USB-C, it was only a matter of time before the change trickled down to other devices, and it’s a welcome change in our opinion.
That design was once again showcased in leaked CAD files just ahead of Apple’s September event, lending more credibility to the possibility of a redesigned AirPods Pro case with better Find My capabilities.
On the flip side, Twitter leaker @LeaksApplePro suggests that there won’t be a huge upgrade on offer from the second-gen buds, claiming that there will only be slight improvements to battery life and noise cancellation and comparing it to the minimal update between the first- and second-gen AirPods, so it’s far from confirmed right now.
New H1 chipset
Within the second-gen AirPods Pro is rumoured to be Apple’s new H1 chipset, which 52audio claims will bring both better performance and improved battery life, though no figures were provided.
It’s said that the H1 chipset will bring adaptive active noise cancellation to the wireless earbuds, allowing the buds to self-adjust the noise cancellation on offer depending on the noise in your environment and improve overall performance. It’s not a new concept, featured on plenty of high-end alternative buds, but it’s a first for Apple’s TWS buds.
The new chipset will also allegedly bring improved self-adaptive equalisation, making songs sound better on the fly with no input from the user, along with all the AirPods smarts – like automatic connecting, dynamic head tracking and more – all present and accounted for.
Heart rate & temperature sensors
The new H1 chipset is said to work closely with new sensors embedded within the AirPods Pro 2 buds. As well as the skin detection sensor from the third-gen AirPods, 52audio suggests that the buds will feature a heart rate detection sensor. Per the leak, the sensor will “analyze the wearer’s inner ear data to monitor heart rate” and possibly even take the wearer’s temperature, though it’s not clear what its purpose would be.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has previously suggested that the second-gen AirPods Pro could feature motion sensors to power fitness tracking features, and it’s likely that the heart rate monitor would play a part in this.
Ming-Chi Kuo also believes that the buds will offer fitness tracking technology with dedicated sensors, although he suggests that it won’t be quite as advanced as what’s on offer from the Apple Watch.
AirPods Pro 2 patents
Patents suggest Apple could be working on new optical transmission technology, which would overcome limitations of Bluetooth bandwidth issues. Illustrations in the patent depict its use with the rumoured AR/VR headset due for release in early 2023, but it would work well with the AirPods Pro 2, finally allowing true lossless audio transmission.
There are some drawbacks though, mainly when it comes to range. While Bluetooth range is impressive, optical transmission technology requires the transmitter to be within line of sight of the receiver, meaning it wouldn’t work with an iPhone in a pocket. The patent does address the possibility of using Bluetooth as a backup, but that’d kind of defeat the purpose for high-res audio playback.
We’ll update this article with more information as we receive it, so check back frequently. Are you looking forward to the next-gen AirPods? Let us know on Twitter and Instagram.