AirPods Pro look set for USB-C upgrade at Apple's September iPhone event

In-ear headphones: Apple AirPods Pro 2
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Apple's AirPods Pro line of wireless earbuds is set to receive a significant upgrade, losing the current Lightning port in favour of a USB-C connection.

We have heard rumours of this change happening throughout the year, and now with Apple's annual autumn launch approaching next week, it seems Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has all but confirmed the news. The change is being made in order to bring Apple in line with new EU regulations which essentially make the USB-C connection mandatory across most European member states. 

Gurman had previously theorised that Apple would launch a USB-C case for the Pro line to coincide with the iPhone 15 launch this year, and with the Apple launch event set for September 12th, such predictions seem likely to come true. With the upcoming smartphone set to switch from the Lightning cable to the more efficient USB-C port, it appears that Apple is setting wheels in motion to standardise charging across its range of devices ahead of the 2024 deadline set by the EU.

That means that the current flagship AirPods Pro 2 will be the first to adopt the USB-C before other products, such as the standard AirPods and the AirPods Max, also make the change.

This all sounds like good news, as it will mean that Apple users will now have a single cable – one that is already used by many other brands, including Android devices – that will slot into their new iPhone, headphones or other accessories. Charging times will likely be faster, and, claims Gurman, data transfer speeds will increase for the new high-end iPhone models.

In-ear headphones: Apple AirPods Pro 2

The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) currently use Apple's standard Lightning port for charging.  (Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Gurman does, however, highlight the concerns that Apple may have over the inevitable switch, such as millions of Lightning chargers ending up in landfill and, more worrying for Apple, a loss of royalty revenue from exclusive licenses to the Lightning port given out to third-party manufacturers. Not to mention that customers will likely have to buy (if they don't already have one) a USB-C power charging brick, even if Apple includes the cable in the box.

Still, the use of a single connection that is widespread across so many devices already should be a positive one in the long run. We imagine many brands that make third-party USB-C DACs might breathe a sigh of relief, too, with one less adapter to provide in future.

With the upcoming iPhone 15 leading the charge, it seems precedent will be set next week to allow all further Apple models to integrate USB-C charging. Clearly, the writing is on the wall: the Lightning port is dead, long live USB-C!


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Harry McKerrell
Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. He studied law and history at university before working as a freelance journalist covering TV and gaming for numerous platforms both online and in print. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or forcing himself to go long-distance running.