Two new AirPods models coming later this year, analyst says

Apple AirPods on a wooden table
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Apple will launch two new models of AirPods later this year, according to a new report. But don't expect replacements for the AirPods Pro 2 or AirPods Max – these new models will be at the more affordable end of the market, says Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, and one could offer active noise cancellation (ANC).

ANC has always been reserved for the AirPods Pro and Max. If Apple did bring it to the standard AirPods, it would have to find another way to differentiate the Pro model, which would mean upgrades in other areas.

According to the report, the new models will replace the AirPods 3 and second-gen AirPods from 2019 (the cheaper model could be called the AirPods Lite). They're apparently codenamed B768(E) and B768(M) – the E stands for "entry" (as in entry-level) and M for "mid-tier". Only the mid-tier offering – expected to be called AirPods 4 – will have ANC and Find My speakers built into the case (which play a sound to help you locate it). Both pairs should have a new design, better fit and USB-C charging cases.

There's no mention of how this improved fit will be achieved, but if Apple did use interchangeable ear tips, it could risk cannibalising sales of the AirPods Pro further. The Pro model is currently the only to offer ear tips (the AirPods Pro 2 introduced a fourth size, XS).

Gurman adds that Apple is working on a new hearing test feature for the AirPods, and a hearing aid mode for the Pro model. Both of these features would be delivered via iOS 18.

According to Gurman, this year's unveiling will be the "biggest AirPods launch to date", with a production run of 20-25 million units. The launch date is expected around September or October – right around the time the iPhone 16 is expected.


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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.