Apple's range of AirPods will be getting a major revamp in 2024, according to leak

Apple AirPods
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Apple's 'Scary Fast' showcase event is almost here (live on 30th October), but we don't need to wait until Monday to get the latest gossip regarding its plans for AirPods.

According to a report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman via The Verge, Apple's leaked roadmap for 2024 will see the brand attempt to differentiate between its various AirPods models more effectively. This is in response to what it deems to be disappointing sales of the AirPods 3.

It appears that the second-gen and third-gen AirPods will be discontinued when the ultimate successor arrives (probably) next Autumn, with Apple not keen on customers still being able to nab cheaper, older models at the expense of a shiny new pair.

But here's the thing. Apple is apparently launching not one but two sets of fourth-gen AirPods in mid-to-late 2024. While it's believed they'll still be positioned below the five-star AirPods Pro 2, an overhauled, short-stem design will supposedly see Apple push to make each of its respective earbuds more distinctive and unique.

In-ear headphones: Apple AirPods Pro 2

Apple is keen to distinguish the standard AirPods from the AirPods Pro line (AirPods Pro 2 pictured above). (Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The pricier, more premium of these two pairs will feature Active Noise Cancellation (like the current AirPods Pro), though whether they'll include advanced features like Apple Adaptive Audio, remains to be seen. According to Mark Gurman, however, silicone ear tips are not on the way for the fourth-gen Pods, so if the standard Pods make your ears sore, maybe consider the Pro instead.

Ah, but we know what you're thinking: "Will the fourth-gen AirPods use USB-C charging or will they stick with the Lightning port?". Well, following the release of the iPhone 15 and a clear desire to step in line with new EU regulations, the AirPods 4, like the AirPods Pro 2, will use the more powerful USB-C port as part of the move away from Lightning altogether. That, in itself, will require a redesigned case at the very least.

It's certainly interesting to see how the new AirPods (4th generation) slot into Apple's existing headphone line-up. With the AirPods Pro 2 potentially receiving a sequel next year, and with potential feature overlap with regard to things like ANC, we'll be fascinated to see how Apple decides to differentiate these models in the coming years.


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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.