Apple's AirPods Pro will switch from Lightning to USB-C, just like upcoming iPhone 15

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

We may be finally saying goodbye to Apple's proprietary Lightning connector. According to a report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple will be switching over to a USB-C charging case for its flagship AirPods Pro 2 wireless earbuds to coincide with the launch of the upcoming iPhone 15 this autumn.

According to Gurman’s Power On blog, Apple is working on a number of changes for the AirPods, chief among them being the transition to USB-C charging ports from the Lightning connector (which first appeared in the iPhone 5 back in 2012).

Gurman theorises in his newsletter that Apple is preparing to launch a USB-C case for the Pro earbuds to tessellate with the iPhone 15’s launch, with the upcoming smartphone also reportedly making the jump from the Lightning cable to the more efficient, and thus pacier, USB-C port to be in line with new EU rules set to come into force in 2024.

Apple Lightning cable

Apple's current USB-A to Lightning cable connection. (Image credit: Apple)

This corroborates reports from reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who claimed in March of this year that the second-generation AirPods Pro would have a USB-C charging case. This will likely apply to all future Apple products, so don’t get too attached to your old Lightning cables.

Gurman’s report, incidentally, also makes mention of further developments in hardware for the AirPods Pro. While the Pro’s hardware is still being developed, it’s likely that future earbuds will be linked to the upcoming Vision Pro augmented reality headset. The Bloomberg analyst also teases Apple’s work on realigning the AirPods to function as hearing aids, building on features such as Conversation Boost and Live Listen to give the buds a dual function for the hard of hearing, subject to US regulatory approval. We already know a new Adaptive Audio feature will be coming to the AirPods Pro 2 in the autumn, but whether all these updates will descend upon the current model or if Apple will reveal a brand new version remains to be seen.

What we're certain of, though, is that the Lightning cable isn't long for this world, at least in terms of the AirPods Pro model. USB-C grants an increased power delivery rate over its Lightning counterpart for a faster charge with the same voltage, so this should see charge times diminish for the earbuds, too.

Good news for Apple users, although figuring out what to do with our old Lightning cables is another question altogether...


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Harry McKerrell
Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. During his time at the publication, he has written countless news stories alongside features, advice and reviews of products ranging from floorstanding speakers and music streamers to over-ear headphones, wireless earbuds and portable DACs. He has covered launches from hi-fi and consumer tech brands, and major industry events including IFA, High End Munich and, of course, the Bristol Hi-Fi Show. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or trying to pet strangers' dogs.