May 24 update below. This post was first published on May 21, 2022.
When Apple reveals its next earbuds, what we’re calling AirPods Pro 2 and Apple will, I’m certain, name AirPods Pro second generation, there will be good news for those wanting a big step up in audio innovation. But there will be a sting in the tail, too, in the price.
That’s according to the latest blog post from @LeaksApplePro who, at iDropNews has an extensive look at what Apple is likely to reveal at its September event, expected to be the next big event after next month’s WWDC.
As well as talking about the iPhone 14there are details of the Pro iPhones due to be announced and Apple Watch Series 8.
May 24 update. When it comes to analysts, Ming-Chi Kuo is very hard to ignore. And today, in a series of tweets, I have revealed some more key details about the next Pro AirPods. First, he has said that Apple will start mass production of AirPods Pro 2 in the second half of this year, in Vietnam, which he describes as “a successful case of mass production of Apple’s major products outside China.”
As the tweets continue, he talks about shifting production from one country to another and how a successful move of production of AirPods should not be seen as applying to other products as well. The iPhone, for instance, is a different product, and Kuo says “it’s not easy to establish a complete non-China production site” for the phone. He also mentions that setting up facilities in Vietnam “instead of India can reduce potential geopolitical risks.”
But then there’s his final tweet and it’s the most interesting bit. “I predict the charging case of AirPods Pro 2 will support Lightning, not USB-C.” Well, that’s interesting, and while it doesn’t completely contradict what @LeaksApplePro says—see below—it’s a clear indication that those banking on the next AirPods Pro having a different charging system may well be disappointed.
Discussions about the shift to USB-C for Apple products have been feverish recently, and is expected to happen with the iPhone 15 in 2023 at the earliest. But that doesn’t mean other products couldn’t make the switch before then, and AirPods Pro 2 seem like a key opportunity. On the other hand, if Apple is going to make the Lightning to USB-C switch, then maybe it would want the iPhone to be the next big product to change connectors, not the AirPods, Magic Mouse or entry-level iPad, for instance . If AirPods Pro 2 land as expected this fails, we’ve a little longer to wait. Now, back to @LeaksApplePro’s predictions.
But the author saves their biggest superlatives for AirPods Pro 2, saying, “The AirPods Pro 2 will be the biggest innovation in wireless earbuds since the original AirPods were introduced in 2016.”
Well, that’s quite something.
Top among the reasons for liking the new earbuds is support of lossless audio, also rumored with other details herewhich the new report explains is possible “thanks to a new codec, have a stemless design, and state-of-the-art noise-canceling technology.”
The new design is intriguing and conforms to other leaks which suggest that Apple is eager to remove the stalk that sticks out of your ear.
It’s not certain that the new earbuds will be announced at the September event, with the writer claiming it depends on whether that event is online or in-person. I’m not sure that the reason given is valid, that online offers the capability for multiple events within a couple of months as Apple has routinely done that with in-person keynotes, but we’ll see.
On the other hand, the first AirPods Pro were revealed through a press release and behind-the-scenes private event on a small scale, so it’s highly possible that AirPods Pro 2 will be launched in a similar way.
There’s also corroboration here of the rumor that Apple could use USB-C instead of Lightning in AirPods Pro 2, and you can read my reasons for thinking that will happen here. There are prototypes in existence with USB-C, @LeaksApplePro claims.
And then there’s the bad news.
The final line of the report reads: “I expect them to be available in white and cost around $299.”
The color is hardly a surprise, but, oh boy, the price? That’s $50 above AirPods Pro. When Apple introduced AirPods third generation, they cost $179 with wireless charging case, which is $20 less than the second-generation with wireless charging case (though more than the second-gen model without wireless charging had previously been) . So, I find the idea that Apple will bump up the price by $50 a little surprising.
Also, there are reports that now the second-generation AirPods have dropped in price to $129, sales of the latest version have not been as strong as customers voted to get the cheaper AirPods instead.
Of course, Apple will likely not keep the current AirPods Pro in the range when the next model is released, so that buyer’s dilemma won’t apply. Instead, customers will choose between the second- and third-generation models of AirPods, the over-ear AirPods Max and the brand-new AirPods Pro 2.
More details as they emerge.