The Apple AirPods Pro 2 have a lot riding on them, even though they aren't officially real. That's because the wireless earbuds arena is full of very good 'buds with strong audio and active noise cancellation.
Set to follow on from the AirPods 3, the next-gen 'pro' earbuds should also build upon the current AirPods Pro. We're hoping they have some of the upgrades we're looking for in the AirPods Pro 2 and become some of the best wireless earbuds you can buy in the near future. In fact, at least one Tom's Guide editor is more excited about the AirPods Pro 2 than he is about the iPhone 14.
In the meantime, here's what we know so far, including the potential AirPods Pro 2 release date, price, specs, features, and more.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 latest news (updated May 17)
- A leaker has tipped the AirPods Pro 2 to launch September 13 alongside the iPhone 14 and other Apple devices. And the AirPods Pro 2 could come with a killer upgrade.
- Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reckons the AirPods will drop the Lightning port for USB-C charging in 2023, meaning the AirPods Pro 2 could lead the charge on this.
- In a recent newsletter, Mark Gurman reiterated a previous rumor that AirPods Pro 2 could arrive later this year.
- Respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims the AirPods Pro 2 will launch in the second half of 2022, and that they will replace the existing AirPods rather than sitting alongside them in Apple's lineup.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 rumored release date
The latest rumor has the AirPdos Pro 2 tipped to launch September 13, 2022, alongside the iPhone 14 and a suite of other Apple products.
An Apple's next-gen 'pro' AirPods could steal the show by supporting the "biggest innovation" in years for wireless earbuds, in the form of state-of-the-art noise-canceling technology.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 possible price
The original AirPods Pro has an MSRP of $249, which at the time of launch, made these wireless earbuds the most expensive in the category. Considering how well they continue to sell, along with plenty of AirPods deals, we don't see Apple lowering the price. That goes double now that there are even more expensive alternatives like the Master & Dynamic MW08 and Bowers & Wilkins PI7.
Backing our theory is Twitter leaker @LeakApplePro, who claims that the AirPods Pro 2 will cost the same as its predecessor.
If anything, Apple may feel compelled to raise it by $25 or $50 if major upgrades are implemented. Overall, though, rumors that Apple will stick to the $249 price for the AirPods Pro 2 seem on target. Especially if the original AirPods Pro end up with a price cut to compensate.
That's the approach Apple has taken with the AirPods 3, which comes in at $179 — slightly above the $159 price for the AirPods 2, but this time with a wireless charging case as standard, which before would have cost another $40. Apple has also dropped the price of the AirPods 2 down to $129, so it seems quite possible it will do the same with the Pro line, keeping the new model at roughly the same price will reduce that of the previous version. Of course all of that goes against analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's theory that Apple will retire the AirPods Pro when it releases the Pro 2, though.
There have also been rumors of Apple possibly releasing an entry-level version of the AirPods Pro, which would carry the AirPods Pro Lite moniker and go on sale for $199 at an unknown date. Certain high-end features would likely be omitted from the Lite version to meet the lower price point.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 design
The latest news regarding the AirPods Pro 2’s design comes from Mac Otakara. According to the Japan-based site, which has connections to Asian supply chains sand accessory manufacturers, the charging case for this model will be more compact. The dimensions listed are 46mm tall, 54mm wide, and 21mm thick.
The AirPods Pro 2 could have a similar design to the current models, according to these alleged first images of the AirPods Pro 2. However, the case would be slightly different with, among other things, a hole for attaching a lanyard, as well as speaker holes on the bottom.
An earlier report from Bloomberg suggests that the AirPods Pro 2 could get an all-new design that drops the stems. Bloomberg's sources suggest that a current prototype design looks more like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live. However, it’s possible that Apple has already given us a glimpse at this potential redesign via the Beats Studio Buds, which is stemless and comes in oval form with a multifunctional button on the front.
A leaked image shared by a Twitter user named Fudge supposedly shows a new tool that Apple is sending out to service providers for testing the 1st- and 2nd-gen AirPods, as reported by MacRumors. Its purpose: “cut-down on needless services in instances where a deep clean is all that is required.”
One day later, Fudge leaked another photo showing the AirPods Pro compatible with the tool; the tips would just have to be removed for testing. If made available for the AirPods Pro 2, it would definitely provide for a more efficient way of keeping your buds clean by preventing dirt-blockage.
Let’s not count out the possibility of Apple leaving the design as is, but maybe adding one or two small changes. We saw this with the AirPods 3, which kept the long-stem silhouette and introduced a more ergonomic sound port to nestle into the canal, as well as added skin-detection sensors for precise auto-pause/play functionality. Like MacRumors, we believe the AirPods Pro 2 will welcome the latter.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 specs and features
The AirPods Pro 2 are rumored to have a much greater focus on fitness usage, with upgraded sensors and exercise tracking features.
Exactly what those features are remains a mystery, though they could be similar to how the Soul Blade earbuds measure heart rate or how the Amazon Echo Buds 2 can track steps, distance, duration, calories, and pace in 'Workout' mode.
Apple executive Kevin Lynch has also hinted at added fitness tracking features for AirPods. While Lynch didn't name the AirPods Pro 2 or any other model specifically, he did note there was "all kinds of potential" for AirPods to take advantage of sensor fusion. This allows two sets of sensors, such as from an iPhone and Apple Watch, to combine data for more accurate tracking.
Since the current AirPods Pro already includes accelerometers and gyroscopes, it's easy to see how the AirPods Pro 2 could be adapted to work with Apple's sensor fusion system. It would also work well with new iOS 15 features like walking steadiness.
Very little else has been divulged about the AirPods Pro 2, but the odds are high that these buds share many of the same features as its speculated counterparts.
This includes advances to transparency mode to warn users of incoming hazards and voice recognition that can interrupt playback on preset conditions, bone conduction technology, third-party app support, and compatibility with the Apple AirTag to make locating misplaced AirPods simpler.
An Apple patent application has been spotted that details how future AirPods could identify the user by the shape of their ear canal.
During WWDC 2021, Apple announced a range of upgrades coming to its existing AirPods models, so at least some of these are likely to come with the AirPods Pro 2 as standard. The range from enhanced Find My support to a "Conversation Boost" mode designed to help those with mild hearing loss.
The release of iOS 15 in September also brought some new features to the original AirPods Pro, which will likely carry over to its sequel. These include Announce Notifications for audible reminders, Conversation Boost to hear voices better during chats, and extended spatial audio support (if applicable) for Apple TV and Mac.
You can also expect many goodies originally introduced by iOS 14, like automatic switching, Dolby Atmos support, and spatial audio that creates a theater-like experience for listeners. Another feature to keep on your radar is Headphones Accommodation for frequency adjustments and sound amplification, along with Hearing Health, which provides updates to users on whether they’re listening to music too loudly.
Apple’s recent acquisition of the classical music streaming service Primephonic should also bring a more immersive listening experience for fans of the genre. Whether this will work with spatial audio is unknown. What is known is that Apple Music subscribers shall gain access to Primephonic content and playlists, plus improved browsing and search capabilities by composer and repertoire within Apple Music.
Furthermore, a big leap in sound quality could be on the cards, as leaker LeaksApplePro has claimed the Airpods Pro 2 could sport the "biggest innovation" in years — namely, a lossless audio codec that would allow the earbuds to playback music at a higher quality.
Details around the codec are slim — almost non-existent, really — but it does make sense that Apple has something in the works considering the current limitations of the AAC codes Apple's earbuds favor. In short, it’s preventing Apple’s high-end headphones like the Apple AirPods Max from streaming lossless audio and the company needs a solution at the hardware level to change that.
On top of that, LeaksApplePro claims the AirPods Pro 2 will have "state-of-the-art noise-canceling technology." ANC technology has been improving with each generation of cans on our best headphones list, so we'd be curious to see where Apple takes this, but the leaker provided no more details.
It’s possible that Apple also performs tweaks to the adaptive EQ. Add the Ear Tip Fit Test to the list as well, one of the newer features introduced on the AirPods Pro that to determine the best fit for optimized sound.
While the AirPods Pro 2 wouldn’t boast anywhere near the driver size of the AirPods Max (40mm), Apple could be working its magic to give these next-gen AirPods their own custom acoustic design that enriches audio. It’s possible that Apple performs minor tweaks to the adaptive EQ as well.
We can also posit that the H1 chip will likely power the AirPods Pro 2. If so, then at least you know what’s coming: improved audio latency, battery management (50 percent more talk time), and connectivity, along with hands-free “Hey Siri” support and Audio Share to hear music on two sets of AirPods or Beats headphones from one audio source.
As for what’s new or has received little attention? Let’s see. One DigiTimes report indicates that biometrics sensors may be used on the AirPods Pro 2. Combined with other components, this would open the door for new health-based features: a step counter, motion detection, and heart rate monitoring are just a few examples. We'd also love to see the buds pinch temperature monitoring from the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro.
A tweet from LeaksApplePro also corroborates this report with news Apple will be adding ambient light sensors to the AirPods Pro 2. Similar sensors have been used to monitor heart rate in other wireless earbuds like Samsung's original Gear IconX. That said they appear to have fallen out of fashion more recently thanks to their heavy power consumption.
Then there is this patent discovered by Patently Apple, which shows Apple working on a new navigation system that builds on the AirPods Pro’s force sensor controls. It suggests the use of on-device capacitive sensors that, when tapped, enable a mode to perform in-air gestures. This would trigger different actions that could likely be assigned or customized in the settings.
Another patent application suggests future AirPods could even have new tech that identifies the user by the shape of their ear canal. There's no indication this will find its way into the AirPods Pro 2, but it would be a neat trick if it did. What's more, it would block off a potential security risk whereby someone could use Siri on your AirPods to get information from your phone.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 battery and charging case
With zero information out there on the AirPods Pro 2’s battery life, we can only go based on the rumors and what the original model has granted users, which, has been somewhat paltry.
Battery life on the AirPods Pro (4.5 hours) is rated less than the AirPods 3 (6 hours). There is no reason to believe it will change. In fact, playtimes could even be lower, depending on the specs, though LeaksApplePro claims the model will have “better battery life,” whatever that means. You can also expect the wireless charging case to remain unchanged with 24 hours of total playtime.
iOS 14 did introduce new settings to improve battery management such as notifications and Optimized Battery Charging, a feature designed to learn your charging routine and only charges to 100 percent when required to reduce battery aging.
Info on the AirPods Pro 2 charging case is slim at the moment, but some rumors are starting to appear. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, for instance, claims the case “can emit a sound for users to track,” which would be helpful if you misplaced the whole case, albeit less so if you've just lost the buds.
Elsewhere, Patently Apple discovered a patent showcasing a new “bistable hinge” for a future version of the noise-cancelling earbuds. This would provide a stronger and more reliable closure system, using some type of component (possibly a cap) that snaps into position to keep the lid securely shut. If true, then it’s practically a forgone conclusion this version would not be packaged with the first-gen AirPods Pro. Then again, it might be saved for a future model not named the AirPods Pro 2.
Apple introduced a new smart case for the over-ear AirPods Max headphones that automatically puts them into a low-power state. Whether we’ll see a hard case version for the AirPods Pro 2 is unknown for now.
MagSafe charging is also a likely addition for the AirPods Pro 2, given that it is available on the new AirPods 3. However, MacRumors believes this version will come with IPX4 sweat and water resistance, something that no AirPods charging case offers.
Kuo reckons the AirPods will drop the Lightning port for USB-C charging in 2023. So depending on when the AIrPods Pro 2 do indeed arrive, they could be the first of the AirPods line to finally use USB-C charging. That could facilitate faster charging, but also mean that users could theoretically carry around one decent USB-C charger to power most if not all of their devices, even if they have a mix of Apple and Android gadgets.
What we want from the Apple AirPods Pro 2
We’re still far away from the AirPods Pro 2 coming out, but in the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to put together a wish list of advancements. A few concepts online have inspired some recommendations, though we think they might be out of the realm of possibility because Apple never really listens to the public. Hey, you never know. Take a look at what we want to see on the AirPods Pro 2.
Adjustable ANC: Apple says that noise cancellation on the AirPods Pro adjusts at 220 times per second. That is a lot of activity and juice-sucking right there. The AirPods Pro 2 would only benefit from adjustable ANC, allowing users to manually tweak the ANC levels and preserve battery life when set below the max level.
Customizable and Hi-Res sound: Some of the best wireless earbuds have a companion app that allows you to create your own sound profile by manually tweaking the frequency levels via EQ. It’s one of the biggest selling points on competitive models like the Jabra Elite Active 75t and Sony WF-1000XM4. It doesn’t hurt to have aptX HD or even LDAC support to enjoy Hi-Res Audio-encoded files, especially as inexpensive and lesser known models like the Edifer NeoBuds Pro support the latter.
The Digital Crown: The Apple Watch’s popular control feature has found its way onto the AirPods Max, which is used to deliver precise volume control, playback management, and Siri activation. To see something similar on the AirPods Pro, possibly near the bottom tip of each stem, would be pretty sick.
Extra accessories: If the AirPods Pro showed us anything, it’s that ear tips make all the difference for optimal fit. Apple continues to advertise the first-gen Pro as a sporty model, so adding more accessories like wingtips and ear hooks would convince Apple fanboys that the AirPods 2 were truly designed with fitness in mind.
Lengthier battery life: Right now, we can name at least 10 wireless ANC earbuds that offer longer ANC playtime than the AirPods Pro. Two of those happen to be the AirPods Pro’s biggest rivals: the Sony WF-1000XM4 (8 hours) and Master & Dynamic MW08 (10 hours). If the AirPods 3 can be increased to 6 hours, there’s no reason why Apple can’t do the same for the AirPods Pro 2.
Platform-neutral performance: The Beats Studio Buds showed us Apple can create a pair of wireless earbuds that plays nicely with iOS/macOS and Android devices. This was accomplished through an undisclosed processor designed specifically for the Studio Buds. Considering Android’s massive user base, it would be a no-brainer for the AirPods Pro 2 to offer the same excellent performance across all platforms.
Retina HD display: This comes courtesy of concept site Tech Blood, which created a rendering of the AirPods Pro 2 with a Retina HD Display right on the front of the charging case. Basically, the case can be used as a compass, for control playback, and to lock your AirPods to an iPhone. The screen would also be able to show battery levels, incoming calls, and the time. We’ll take it!
Reverse wireless charging support: The iPhone 12 supported wireless charging to power up Apple’s MagSafe battery packs. Now that the AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro (2021 version) come bundled with MagSafe charging cases, it’s time for Apple to pull a Samsung and allow users the chance to recharge their wireless buds on their new iPhone.
Stronger IPX rating: The AirPods Pro has IPX4 certification for sweat and water resistance. Meanwhile, competitors like the OnePlus Buds Pro (IP55) and Bowers & Wilkins PI5 (IP54) offer better protection against other environmental hazards. Even the rumored OnePlus Buds Z is said to come with IP55 water/dust resistance. The AirPods Pro 2 should follow suit.