In tech terms, the original AirPods Pro are on the elderly end of the spectrum. Released in the pre-pandemic days of 2019, it looks like Apple is finally gearing up to debut a second generation, maybe as soon as September 7's Apple event to go alongside the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch 8.
While the AirPods Pro 2 will doubtlessly contain improvements to sound quality and the possible addition of fitness tracking, the charging case could well be where the big changes are coming — if a new allegedly leaked CAD render from Apple Insider’s Andrew O’Hara (opens in new tab) proves to be legitimate.
For anyone interested in #AirPodsPro2, I just got my hands on some leaked CAD files ahead of the #AppleEvent. Shows rumors we've heard before such as the lanyard anchor and speakers for Find My support. Can't guarantee accuracy but cool to see regardless. What do you all think? pic.twitter.com/ZtrPcOfyVQSeptember 2, 2022
First of all, ignore the eye-catching red color scheme. As O’Hara explains in a reply, this is purely to make the features more visible, not a sign that Apple intends to adopt the Product Red color across its AirPods range.
Otherwise, there are a couple of things we’ve seen talk of before, such as a speaker grille along the bottom. This is reportedly so that the AirPods Pro 2 case can be added to Apple’s Find My network, and play a sound when in range so it can easily be located.
There also appears to be a lanyard hook, letting users attach their AirPods case to a keychain. Judging by the number of people replying to O’Hara saying they’ve recently lost their current AirPods, these two innovations may not be a bad idea at all.
The CAD designs don’t make it clear as to whether the charging port is Lightning or USB-C. But recent reports suggest that this will be the swan song for Apple’s proprietary cable.
There’s one more interesting detail. Across from the speaker grille on the bottom of the case, there’s a mysterious single hole, which looks like it could be a microphone.
The question is why a case for earbuds would need such a thing, but MacRumors (opens in new tab) has a theory: it could be for Apple’s Live Listen accessibility feature (opens in new tab). Here, the microphone on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch sends audio straight to somebody’s AirPods, and it would make some sense for this to be incorporated directly into the case itself, if it doesn’t cost too much to implement.
We should find out soon enough. Apple’s next event is just days away, scheduled for Wednesday, and while AirPods Pro 2 isn’t as nailed on a certainty as the iPhone 14, it wouldn’t be surprising if the new wireless earbuds made an appearance during the keynote.
Read next: AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods Pro: Biggest upgrades to expect. And we take a look at what's beyond the Apple September 7 event.