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Apple AirPods Pro 2 release date, price, specs and leaks

AirPods Pro 2 release date, price, specs and leaks
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The Apple AirPods Pro 2 will likely join the newly announced AirPods 3 in completing Apple’s next-gen wireless earbuds lineup. Just like how the current AirPods Pro build on the Apple AirPods with a more premium design and major added features, you can expect the AirPods Pro 2 to follow suit with a host of upgrades.

On top of core improvements to sound quality and active noise cancellation, the AirPods Pro 2 is rumored to debut with brand-new capabilities, potentially including built-in fitness tracking. The AirPods Pro can already count itself among the best wireless earbuds you can buy, so big new features will probably be necessary if Apple wants to show the AirPods Pro 2 is a significant step forwards.

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 October 24)

Apple AirPods Pro 2 predicted release date

We were expecting the AirPods Pro 2 to make an appearance this year, but it's looking like the wireless earbuds won't arrive until 2022. That's according to multiple rumors and tips, with the latest being from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The fact that Apple just launched the AirPods 3 at its latest Apple event also suggests we won't see them this year, as surely they'd have been showcased alongside the cheaper buds otherwise. 

If we were to forecast a release date, we'd hazard a guess that early 2022, say springtime, might be the most likely time for the AirPods Pro 2 to make their debut. Though Apple hasn't historically released a lot of products in the Spring. 

Apple AirPods Pro 2 price

Apple AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: Future)

The original AirPods Pro has an MSRP $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.

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 new AirPods 3, which come 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 reducing that of the previous version. 

Apple AirPods Pro 2 design

An AirPods Pro 2 concept courtesy of Weibo

(Image credit: Weibo)

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. 

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 separate Twitter leak from Mr. White claims that the AirPods Pro 2 could come in two different sizes. This account does not have the best track record, so we'll have to see if this rumor pans out. 

Apple AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

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.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 specs and features

Apple AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

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 an advanced transparency mode to warn users of incoming hazards, bone conduction technology, third-party app support, and compatibility with the  Apple AirTag to make locating misplaced AirPods simpler. All or most of these could end up being featured on the AirPods Pro 2, but don’t quote on us this.

AirPods Pro 2 AirTag integration

(Image credit: Apple)

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.

Apple Music x Primephonic

(Image credit: Apple)

Furthermore, you will probably see a slight boost in sound quality; LeaksApplePro believes this will come in the form of “a bit better” noise cancellation. It’s possible that Apple performs minor 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.

All signs point to the H1 chip likely powering the AirPods Pro 2. If true, 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.

The gossip mill had been heating up with talk of the Studio (now known as the AirPods Max) receiving the popular U1 chip, which was introduced on the iPhone 11. Established leaker @L0vetodream even sent out a three-word tweet that said “u1 for studio,” hinting at the possibility. This didn’t come to fruition, as the AirPods Max carries an H1 chip in each earcup. That doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t see the U1 chip featured on the AirPods Pro 2. For those unfamiliar with the technology, the U1 employs Ultra Wideband technology that allows devices to locate and communicate with other U1-equipped devices; the Apple Tags is said to be taking advantage of the processor.

Apple AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: PatentlyApple)

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.

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.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 battery and charging case

Apple AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: Future)

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 non-existent at the moment, though 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.

What we want from the Apple AirPods Pro 2

Apple AirPods Pro 2 concept

(Image credit: TechBlood)

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 support either to enjoy Hi-Res Audio-encoded files, especially as rumors heat up of Sony’s noise-cancelling buds receiving this in a future update.

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.

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). The AirPods Pro 2 should damn well be able to match either, or at least give us an extra two hours to work with.

Platform-neutral performance: If the Beats Studio Buds showed us anything, it’s that 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: Samsung was onto something when it introduced the game-changing Wireless PowerShare feature, which transforms some of the newer Galaxy smartphones into a wireless charging pad to recharge other devices. Granted, it seems like something better reserved for the newest iPhone, but wouldn’t it be cool to have this technology in the AirPods Pro 2 charging case to power up your Apple Watch Series 6 or Qi-compatible smartphone?

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.