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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 have a lot riding on them, even though they aren't officially real. That's because the wires earbuds arena is full of very good buds with strong audio and active nose 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 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 January 9)

Apple AirPods Pro 2 predicted release date

One of the most enduring Apple AirPods Pro 2 rumors is that the earbuds will be revealed and then release in 2022, as mentioned once again by serial Apple tipster Mark Gurman

MacRumors' latest report is more specific, suggesting the second generation model will hit store shelves in Q4 2022. That time frame has also been tipped by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who agrees that they will come out in the final quarter of the year.  

There's no official word on when the AirPods Pro 2 will be revealed next year. But we'd hazard a guess that they'll play a part in the launch of the iPhone 14, which is expected to take place in September 2022. 

A report from DigiTimes says that Apple has begun to step up chip orders from NOR Flash, which is apparently one of its key suppliers for the AirPods Pro 2.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 price

Apple AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: Future)

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 new 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. 

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

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, 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 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.

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

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.

A bigger deal, potentially, could be support for lossless audio streaming. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, lossless audio support will be added to the AirPods Pro 2, probably via Apple's own ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) format.

What about the AirPods Pro 2’s processor? It’s still unknown as to which chip Apple will stuff into their next-gen wireless ANC earbuds. However, renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suspects that “the main chip may be significantly upgraded,” as reported by AppleInsider.

Until Apple confirms this, one can assume that the H1 chip will likely power 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 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 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.

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 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.

Alex Bracetti

A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.