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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 is rumored to be the true successor to the much-loved AirPods Pro. Although the AirPods 3 is also believed to be in the works, and sounds a lot further along in production, this will be a more basic set of buds. The AirPods Pro 2, on the other hand, is likely to get even more luxurious, with new or enhanced features like active noise cancellation and multiple size options.

As the current-gen AirPods Pro is a proud member of our best wireless earbuds list, improving on it will be a sizeable undertaking. But both the original model and the over-ear AirPods Max show that Apple knows what it’s doing when it comes to crafting a pair of high-end headphones — so even if we have to wait a while for the AirPods Pro 2, it’s one to watch out for.

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 release date

Don't expect an AirPods Pro 2 release date anytime soon. LeaksApplePro has suggested the AirPods Pro 2 won't surface until Q4 2021 at the earliest, and this is in keeping with another report by go-to analyst for all things Apple, Ming-Chi Kuo. As reported by MacRumors, Kuo claimed the AirPods Pro 2 will go into production from Q4 2021 to Q1 2022. Finally, a Bloomberg report suggested both the AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2 could be revealed in 2021, but didn't give specifics. 

Interestingly, DigiTimes has also reported that the AirPods 3 would launch in the first half of 2021, potentially leading to a joint launch for both sets of earbuds. At the time of writing this seems unlikely; there are only scant weeks left in the first half of this year, and we've seen numerous AirPods 3 photo leaks but nothing as convincing for the AirPods Pro 2. There are even counterfeit AirPods 3 based on the repeated design leaks.

The Apple Spring Loaded event on April 20 also came and went without any mention of the AirPods Pro 2 or the AirPods 3, indicating that both are still a ways off.

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.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 design

Apple AirPods Pro 2

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

A report from Bloomberg suggests that the AirPods Pro 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.

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 H2 chip to fit in a more compact design.

A separate Twitter leak from Mr. White says 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. 

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)

Regarding features, most of what has been leaked or reported involves the AirPods 3. 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 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)

You can expect many iOS 14 goodies to come part of the package as well like automatic switching, Dolby Atmos 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.

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.

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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.

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.

Apple AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: PatentlyApple)

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 II (5 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.

AirPods Pro 2 charging case patent

(Image credit: Patently Apple)

Patently Apple also spotted a patent filed by Apple that suggests the company is working on MagSafe AirPods. The patent shows a thin folio that snaps onto the back of an iDevice via magnets, making for a more portable-friendly, on-the-go charging solution than the standard AirPods Pro charging case. There isn’t much shared in the description, except that this version of the AirPods would have “a magnet that emits an external magnetic field that is detectable by a magnetic field sensor [read: MagSafe].” It also states that the “accessory device may include an inductive charging coil designed to supply power to the internal power supply 128, or other devices of the accessory device that require power.”

MagSafe AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: Patently Apple)

Apple unveiled its ecosystem of MagSafe charging and accessories for the iPhone 12 lineup, and there’s already talk of the company adding a MagSafe charger to the iPhone 13, showing the company’s commitment to the technology, which will likely carry over to the AirPods series at some point. Could the AirPods Pro 2 be that starting point?

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-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.

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: 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 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?