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

AirPods Pro 2
(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The AirPods Pro has only been on the market for a year, but there’s already chatter about the AirPods Pro 2 being in development. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially since Apple’s first-ever noise-cancelling earbuds have remained a top seller and some of the best wireless earbuds you can buy. That is enough to warrant a sequel.

If all turns out to be true, the AirPods Pro 2 may be joining the AirPods family with two other heavily rumored models: the AirPods 3 and AirPods X. It is also possible that either of these two products could end up becoming the AirPods Pro 2. Time will tell.

Whatever the case is, the latest reports and leaks tell us the AirPods Pro 2 are coming, and to expect many of the same hallmarks (e.g. adaptive EQ, customized fit, noise cancellation) along with more innovative features. Whether or not we’ll have to wait long to pair these buds with the upcoming iPhone 12 remains unknown.

Here is what we know so far about the Apple AirPods Pro 2, including the AirPods Pro 2 potential release date, price, specs, features, and more.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 release date

Some of the slated releases in Apple’s 2020 product lineup have experienced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With DigiTimes pointing towards a first half 2021 launch for the AirPods 3, it seems safe to say the AirPods Pro follow-up won’t be on store shelves anytime soon. The most recent hint at the AirPods Pro 2 release date comes via a Bloomberg report from October 2020, claiming that the new buds may be announced as soon as 2021.

Back in July, DigiTimes also reported the next AirPods Pro version would see the light of day “in the second half of next year.” Go-to analyst for all things Apple, Ming-Chi Kuo, has claimed the AirPods Pro 2 will go into production from Q4 2021 to Q1 2022, as reported by MacRumors.

LeaksApplePro also says the buds won't be around until Q4 2021 at the earliest, possibly as late as Q1 2021.  So you're going to have to be patient if you want a pair for yourself.

Our prediction: Holiday 2021.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 price

Apple AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: Future)

The original AirPods Pro is currently sold at $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 analysts predicting Apple will sell 90 million AirPods in 2020, the company won’t feel inclined to lower the AirPods Pro 2 price.

If anything, Apple may feel compelled to raise it by $25 or $50 if major upgrades are implemented, though it seems doubtful right now.

A research note obtained by MacRumors shows Kuo suggesting Apple will move forward with a new competitive pricing strategy that includes price drops on current AirPods models later this year. He also mentioned the upcoming iPhone 12 wasn’t going to come with a free pair of EarPods. 

If true, this decision would drive AirPods sales and help Apple clear out its current stock, which has reportedly been impacted by slow sales during the coronavirus outbreak.

With that in mind, rumours that Apple will stick to the $249 price tag don't seem too ridiculous. Especially if the original AirPods Pro end up with a price cut to compensate.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 design

Apple AirPods Pro 2

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

Apple seems committed to the AirPods’ long stem silhouette. We don’t particularly love it, but we do commend the designers behind the AirPods Pro for enhancing the overall aesthetics and comfort of the buds. The black grille for ventilation, ergonomic fit via bundled ear tips, and shortened stems with user-friendly pinch controls were surprisingly great additions. We didn’t see any major design changes from the AirPods to the AirPods 2, and our gut tells us the same will happen with the AirPods Pro series.

However, a late 2020 report from Bloomberg suggests that the AirPods Pro could get an all-new design that drops the infamous stems. Bloomberg's sources suggest that a current prototype design looks more like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live or Google Pixel Buds 2

It’s almost a given that the AirPods Pro 2 will have the same system-in-package (SIP) design of the original version, which is also rumored for the AirPods 3. This allows Apple’s ANC circuitry and powerful H1 chip to fit in a more compact design.

AppleInsider got its hands on a note to investors from Kuo that mentioned the AirPods 3 would take on a “new form factor” and resemble the AirPods Pro. If so, then Apple will stick with the Pro design and make small, unnoticeable changes to it such as better ear tips and sweatproof protection. In addition, the AirPods Pro 2 will probably be manufactured from recyclable parts like the first-gen version.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 specs and features

Apple AirPods Pro 2

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

Regarding features, most of what has been leaked or reported involves the AirPods 3 and AirPods X. Very little has been divulged about the AirPods Pro 2, but the odds are high that these buds share many of the same features as their 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 upcoming Apple AirTags 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.

You can expect many iOS 14 goodies to come part of the package as well like automatic switching, Dolby Atoms support, and spatial audio that will create 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.

Mockup of Apple AirTags

(Image credit: MacRumors)

Furthermore, you will probably see a slight boost in sound quality, noise cancellation, and 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.

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.

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 regular Apple leaker 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 PatentlyApple, 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 2 (5 hours). There is no reason to believe it will change. In fact, playtimes could even be lower, depending on the specs. You can also expect the wireless charging case to remain unchanged with 24 hours of total playtime.

We do know iOS 14 will introduce new settings to improve battery life management on current and future AirPods models. On top of pop-up reminders to charge the AirPods when required, there will be Optimized Battery Charging, a feature designed to learn your charging routine and only charges to 100 percent when required to reduce battery aging.

Is this the time in which Apple brings USB-C charging to the AirPods? If we’re going based on the images posted by infamous Apple leakers Jon Prosser and Mr·white, then there may be some truth to this theory. Prosser posted details and renderings of the upcoming Apple Studio, saying the headphones would have a USBC port and no headphone jack.

Mr·white then followed up a week later with images of what is supposedly a new Lightning to USB-C braided cable that is to ship with the iPhone 12. Should either of these products be christened with the industry’s most popular charging connector solution, then it’s only a matter of time before other Apple products like the AirPods Pro 2 follow suit.

Another recent report from Kuo states the iPhone 12 family and AirPods 3 will “adopt cheaper and less complex battery technology” to save the company on battery unit costs. How this will affect battery life is unknown.

Another recent report from Kuo states the iPhone 12 family and AirPods 3 will “adopt cheaper and less complex battery technology” to save the company on battery unit costs. How this will affect battery life is unknown.

AirPods Pro charging case patent

(Image credit: Patently Apple)

Info on the AirPods Pro 2 charging case is also 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.

What we want from the Apple AirPods Pro 2

Apple AirPods 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-1000xM3. 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.

Lengthier battery life: If other wireless earbuds can push playtimes up to 9 hours with ANC on (like the Sony WF-SP800N), the AirPods Pro 2 should damn well be able to match that, or at least give us an extra two hours to work with.

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 iPhone 12, but wouldn’t it be cool to have this technology in the AirPods Pro 2 charging case to power up your Apple Watch Series 5 or Qi-compatible smartphone?