AirPods Pro 2 – rumoured to be Apple's next wireless earbuds – are tipped for a premium design and improved noise-cancelling technology. We hoped they'd surface alongside the entry-level AirPods 3 in October, but it wasn't to be. So when will Apple announce the AirPods Pro 2? And what features will they offer? Here's what we know so far...
The original AirPods Pro came out back in late October 2019, offering a tweaked design over the original AirPods, along with a customised fit, active noise-cancellation, sweat- and water-resistance and superior on-device controls. Nearly three years later, and there's plenty of talk about an updated version. Some rumours point to a stemless design, while others suggest that the AirPods Pro 2 could look just like the originals.
Read on as we round up all the latest hints, tips, leaks and price predictions in the build up to the launch of the AirPods Pro 2 buds...
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Apple AirPods Pro 2: release date rumours
The AirPods Pro 2 were rumoured (opens in new tab) to launch in April 2021, but that didn't come to pass. They were a no-show at the Apple 'Unleashed' event on the 18th October 2021 too, and at the 'Peek Performance' showcase on 8th March 2022, which featured the iPhone SE 3 (2022).
So, what is the AirPods Pro 2 release date? Nobody knows for sure but the latest rumour has the AirPods Pro 2 pegged to launch on 13th September 2022, alongside the iPhone 14 and a host of other Apple products including the Apple Watch 8. The tip comes via iDropNews, which claims that Apple will host an event in "week 37" of 2022 (beginning 12th September). As Apple tends to hold events on a Tuesday, this seems to point to an Apple Event on 13th September 2022.
That ties in with a previous prediction by Apple soothsayer Ming-Chi Kuo, who claimed that the next AirPods Pro would enter mass production in the second half of 2022, presumably to launch soon after.
(1/4)1. AirPods Pro 2 will enter mass production in Vietnam in 2H22, a successful case of mass production of Apple's major products outside China.https://t.co/siWe9HItrd @WSJMay 24, 2022
Kuo is rarely wrong when it comes to Apple launches. If he – and other leakers – are on the money, that would be a three-year gap between AirPods Pro generations Fingers crossed Apple doesn't keep us waiting any longer than that...
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Apple AirPods Pro 2: price news
So how much can we expect to pay for this new pair of Apple AirPods Pro wireless headphones? This is Apple, so don't expect them to come with a cheap and cheerful price tag. Most true wireless earbuds command a premium – even more so when they bear an Apple logo.
The Apple AirPods Pro launched at £249 ($249, AU$399), and while a slew of AirPods Pro deals have knocked down that price down a bit, we can't imagine Apple would deviate much from that price point for its next pair. Apple Pro Leaks agrees, having tipped the AirPods Pro 2 to cost $249 as far back as October 2020. More recently, iDropNews has said it expects them to be "available in white and cost around $299".
That would put them in the firing line of rivals from Sennheiser (the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 or still-excellent predecessors) and Sony (the Sony WF-1000XM4 or again, still-excellent WF-1000XM3).
Apple AirPods Pro 2: design predictions
Multiple leaks tip the AirPods Pro 2 for a 'big redesign'. Some say that Apple is planning to get rid of the stem completely in favour of a rounder design, as adopted by the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ and Sony WF-1000XM4.
However, Bloomberg reckons that packing noise-cancellation, wireless antennas and microphones into a smaller AirPods Pro earbud housing has so far proved challenging. Which could explain why a recent report suggests that the 'big redesign' has been scrapped.
Apple-savvy site MacRumours claims that a stemless design is no longer on the cards, based on its interpretation of new to-scale 3D comparisons by Apple concept graphic designer Ian Zelbo. Apparently, the new scaled comparison by Zelbo "actively suggests" that the AirPods Pro 2 will feature skin-detect sensors, as found on the new AirPods 3, to replace the optical sensors used in the original Pro.
Apple AirPods Pro 2: possible features
Apple's in-ear AirPods are, of course, positioned above its Beats subsidiary brand range, so we expect a suitably premium set of features, headlined by active noise cancelling (ANC). In our tests, we found the noise cancelling "strong" and effective, but we did find it impacted the timing of music a little.
Apple ignored the trend for user-selectable noise-cancelling modes in the first-generation AirPods Pro – noise cancelling is currently either on or off. Could Apple implement a more granular noise cancellation control, as seen on rivals like the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, this time around? Maybe...
We could also see a world-first when it comes to ANC – the ability to disable it when the earbuds recognise a voice or code word. An Apple patent details tech that would disable active noise cancellation when the headphones recognise a contact's voice or a preset code word, so the wearer wouldn't miss out on what was being said. It's like Transparency mode, but it kicks in automatically. Neat.
Another patent (opens in new tab) points to advanced head tracking. This could be used to make Spatial Audio more accurate, while also making sure your posture is correct when performing certain yoga and pilates moves. This last feature will most likely be limited to Apple Fitness+.
It seems the new AirPods Pro model will be powered by a new Apple wireless chip, which could have the potential to bring about improved noise cancellation, usability functions and battery life.
Bluetooth 5 should come as standard, as well as hands-free Siri compatibility. More stamina (currently, battery life in the Pros is five hours for the earphones with another 19 hours from the charging case) would be a notable improvement, and we'd love to see on-earpiece volume controls rather than having to dig our phones out or rely on Siri.
Though Apple might have something a little more special up its sleeve. According to one report, the AirPods Pro 2 could have 'through-body' controls, meaning you could control them by touching your face, clicking your tongue or making in-air hand gestures. There's even a patent to back this up. Though we wouldn't bet the house on this one.
There's also a rumour regarding some new fitness tracking features. A report by Digitimes claims that future AirPods will use ambient light sensors to take biometric measurements, potentially for monitoring blood oxygen levels as seen in the 2020 Apple Watch Series 6.
As suggested by MacRumors, this may well work in a similar way to the clip-on pulse oximeters used in hospitals, which shine a light through the earlobe to deduce the amount of oxygen in a patient's bloodstream. Involving stuff, and considering we found the AirPods Pro a great workout companion, such a feature might make them one of the best headphones for running.
That could also help position them as a way of keeping tabs on your health, just like the Apple Watch (current tagline: "The future of health is on your wrist"). And given the recent pandemic, it could well be an appealing prospect for many.
However, one recent report pours cold water on these rumours. Bloomberg analyst Mark Gurman says (opens in new tab) that these features have been "explored" within Apple, but won't appear on the AirPods Pro 2. He doesn't rule out seeing them at some point in the future, though.
We would also expect another step up in terms of sound quality. The AirPods Pro, while still a cut above your average in-ear headphones, are bettered for sound by the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Sony WF-1000XM4, both of which are a little more dynamic and attacking overall.
A report by respected leaker iDropNews suggests that Apple could be working on a new lossless codec that "could be ready to be implemented in the AirPods Pro 2".If Apple can marry a premium sound quality with its usual winning ease of use, it could well have a hit on its hands (and more importantly, in our ears).
Lastly, the charging case could be in for an overhaul. According to Macotakara's sources, the AirPods Pro 2 case will be a little taller and narrower than the current one. Not a massive change, admittedly, but a design tweak all the same. However, it's still expected to charge via Lightning rather than USB-C, despite Apple reportedly testing the latter port for its future iPhones.
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Will they be called AirPods Pro 2?
It's a good question. The Cupertino giant had enormous success with its AirPods range of wireless earbuds right out of the gate, and it chose to stick with the title for the AirPods Pro. Apple claims its AirPods are the most popular headphones in the world, so we expect the company to reuse such a recognisable name.
After all, it stuck with AirPods for its first over-ear headphones, the AirPods Max. Names such as 'SoundPods' and 'AudioPods' have also cropped up online, but the consensus seems to be that 'AirPods' is the chosen branding for all Apple headphones, and the suffix (i.e. Pro 2) will define the rest.
Reliable leaker Jon Prosser advises readers to think of 'Pod' as Apple-speak for 'music', which makes sense when you consider products such as the Apple HomePod and Homepod mini wireless speakers. The iPod might be dead, but the 'Pod name live on.
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AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods Pro
It's still too early to tell how Apple's next Pro proposition will compare with its predecessor, but obviously we can take an educated guess.
Shorter (or even non-existent) stems could make them lighter, allowing the charging case to become smaller – ideally with an even beefier battery. It could also permit space for more advanced drivers and consequently better audio performance. There could also be more room for noise-cancelling components, so we fully expect Apple's most advanced in-ear noise-cancellation yet, albeit potentially not controlled by a stem squeeze (which we actually found a little fiddly anyway).
We would also add that the current AirPods Pro aren't without issue; problems regarding ANC and crackling in some sets prompted Apple to offer free replacement sets to those affected. This glitch will hopefully be eliminated in the updated AirPods Pro 2 model.
Stay tuned and we'll keep you posted ahead of the predicted launch later this year.
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