The AirPods Pro are Apple’s answer to high-end true wireless earbuds, offering an improved fit, active noise cancellation, Dolby Atmos audio support and much more – but even capable buds like the AirPods Pro can grow long in the tooth, and fans are beginning to think about the next-gen AirPods Pro 2.
While there are disputes about the changes on offer, the new AirPods Pro could feature an even smaller design alongside improved ANC capabilities and even fitness tracking when they’re released later in 2022. Here’s all you need to know.
When will the AirPods Pro 2 be released?
Ming-chi Kuo suggested first suggested back in June 2021 that the AirPods Pro 2 would be released sometime in 2022. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman backed up the claim soon after, also suggesting that the second-gen AirPods Pro are due to be released in 2022.
Leaker @LeaksApplePro got more specific in late 2021, suggesting that the AirPods Pro 2 might not make an appearance until later in the year, potentially in Q3 2022.
That was later backed up by Twitter leaker @FrontTron, also suggesting that the high-end buds are on track for release in Q3 2022. While it's worth taking with a pinch of salt, it's worth noting that @FrontTron has a decent track record, correctly predicting the release of the third-gen AirPods.
Ming-Chi Kuo also updated his prediction in December 2021, now also believing that we'll see the new AirPods Pro sometime in late 2022.
He reiterated the claim months later in early April 2022, again stating that the AirPods Pro 2 are due sometime in 2H22 (the second half of the year) - and that Apple will discontinue the first-gen buds to stop them from competing, as with Apple's AirPods 2 & 3.
Kuo also believes that the mass production will begin in 2H22, suggesting there might not be as much stock available at launch as some might like - but that's unconfirmed for now.
Discussing the AirPods Pro 2 in his Power On! Newsletter in May 2022, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman believes the earbuds are on track for release "in the fall". He notes that "the batteries are already probably in trouble for some early adopters" of the original AirPods Pro, so a replacement has to be released sooner rather than later.
With all that in mind, it looks like we won't be seeing the AirPods Pro 2 until Q3 or Q4 2022, which runs between 1 July and 30 September, and 1 October until 31 December respectively at Apple.
While that may be disappointing, the good news is that the AirPods 3 are available to order now if you can't wait to get your hands on a new pair of Apple-branded buds.
How much will the AirPods Pro 2 cost?
The good news – if you can call it good considering the premium price of the buds – is that Apple is looking to keep the AirPods Pro 2 at the same £239/$249 price tag as the original Pro buds. It makes sense considering just how popular the AirPods Pro are, even close to two years after release, still managing to attract an audience at the high-end price tag.
We’ve got a roundup of the best true wireless earbuds if you’re on the market for something a little cheaper and, y’know, available to buy right now.
AirPods Pro 2 design rumours
Apple's updated AirPods 3 sport a similar design to the first-gen AirPods Pro, so it makes sense that Apple might be ready to change things up in its Pro line to keep things distinct. A late 2020 Bloomberg report sheds some light on possible design changes from the upcoming Pro buds.
According to the publication, Apple is looking to make the AirPods Pro 2 even more compact, possibly by removing the stem that houses the beamforming mics and other smart technology. If Apple goes ahead with the redesign, the AirPods Pro 2 could look similar in shape to the stemless Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro or second-gen Google Pixel Buds.
In fact, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests the form factor could be akin to the (Apple-owned) Beats Studio Buds.
The problem, it seems, is fitting all the required tech into an even smaller design, with Apple reportedly struggling to integrate the various antennae, microphones and tech into a stemless AirPod chassis. That could have implications on the overall design plans depending on how development pans out in the coming months.
It’s also said that the AirPods Pro 2 charging case could be slightly thinner and taller, measuring in at 46mm tall and 54mm wide respectively compared to the 45.2mm x 60.6mm dimensions of the current case, but that likely won’t be noticeable unless you put both cases side-by-side.
AirPods Pro 2 feature rumours
There aren’t many details about the new tech and features the AirPods Pro 2 could offer, but you should expect the same headline features – including ANC, transparency mode and Dolby Atmos support – as the first-gen buds.
It's also almost certain that the case will include support for MagSafe charging - added retroactively to the first-gen AirPods Pro after its introduction in the AirPods 3.
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman suggests that the second-gen AirPods Pro could feature motion sensors to power fitness tracking features, though it's unclear whether that's a result of hardware in the buds or iOS software.
Ming-Chi Kuo also believes that the buds will offer fitness tracking technology with dedicated sensors, although he suggests that it won't be quite as advanced as what's on offer from the Apple Watch.
Patents suggest Apple could be working on new optical transmission technology, which would overcome limitations of Bluetooth bandwidth issues. Illustrations in the patent depict its use with the rumoured AR/VR headset due for release later in 2022, but it would work well with the AirPods Pro 2, finally allowing true lossless audio transmission.
There are some drawbacks though, mainly when it comes to range. While Bluetooth range is impressive, optical transmission technology requires the transmitter to be within line of sight of the receiver, meaning it wouldn't work with an iPhone in a pocket. The patent does address the possibility of using Bluetooth as a backup, but that'd kind of defeat the purpose for high-res audio playback.
On the flip side, Twitter leaker @LeaksApplePro suggests that there won’t be a huge upgrade on offer from the second-gen buds, claiming that there will only be slight improvements to battery life and noise cancellation and comparing it to the minimal update between the first- and second-gen AirPods.