May 24 update below. This post was first published on May 21, 2022.
When Apple unveils its next set of earbuds, which we’re calling AirPods Pro 2, and I’m sure Apple will call the second generation AirPods Pro, there will be good news for those looking to take a big step forward in audio innovation . But there will also be a catch in the price when it comes to price.
That’s according to the latest blog post from @LeaksApplePro Who over at iDropNews got an in-depth look at what Apple is likely to reveal at its September event, which is expected to be the next big event after next month’s WWDC.
As well as the iPhone 14, there are details on the Pro iPhones to be announced and the Apple Watch Series 8.
May 24 update. When it comes to analysts, Ming-Chi Kuo is very difficult to ignore. And today, in a series of tweetshe revealed some more important details about the next Pro AirPods. First, he has said that Apple will start mass-producing the AirPods Pro 2 in Vietnam in the second half of this year, which he describes as “a successful case of mass-producing Apple’s flagship products outside of China.”
As the tweets continue, he talks about shifting production from one country to another and that a successful shift in production of AirPods shouldn’t apply to other products as well. The iPhone, for example, is a different product, and Kuo says “it’s not easy to set up a full production facility outside of China 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 last tweet and that’s the most interesting part. “My guess is that the AirPods Pro 2 charging case will support Lightning, not USB-C.” Now that’s interesting, and while it doesn’t completely contradict what @LeaksApplePro says – see below – it’s a clear indication that those who are betting on the next AirPods Pro with a different charging system may be disappointed.
Discussions about switching to USB-C for Apple products have been feverish lately and are not expected to happen until 2023 with the iPhone 15 at the earliest. But that doesn’t mean other products haven’t been able to make the switch before, and AirPods Pro 2 looks like an important opportunity. On the other hand, if Apple is going to make the switch from Lightning to USB-C, it might want the iPhone to be the next big product to change ports, not say the AirPods, Magic Mouse, or entry-level iPad. If the AirPods Pro 2 land as expected this fall, we’ll have to wait a little longer. Now back to @LeaksApplePro’s predictions.
But the author saves his biggest superlatives for the AirPods Pro 2, saying, “The AirPods Pro 2 will be the biggest innovation in wireless earbuds since the original AirPods launched in 2016.”
Well, that’s something.
One of the main reasons for the fondness for the new earbuds is the support for lossless audio, which is also rumored here with other details being possible, according to the new report, “thanks to a new codec, a stemless design and state-of-the-art noise-cancelling technology.”
The new design is intriguing, and in line with other leaks that suggest Apple is aiming to get rid of the stem sticking out of your ear.
It’s not certain if the new earbuds will be announced at the September event, although the author claims that will depend on whether that event is online or in person. I’m not sure if the reason given is valid, that online offers the ability to do multiple events in a matter of months, since Apple has routinely done this with in-person keynotes, but we’ll see.
On the other hand, the first AirPods Pro were unveiled through a press release and a private behind-the-scenes event on a small scale, making it very likely that the AirPods Pro 2 will be launched in a similar fashion.
There’s also confirmation here of the rumor that Apple could be using USB-C instead of Lightning in AirPods Pro 2, and you can read my reasons for that assumption here. There are prototypes with USB-C, claims @LeaksApplePro.
And then there’s the bad news.
The last line of the report reads, “I’m assuming they’ll come in white and cost around $299.”
The color is hardly a surprise, but, oh boy, the price? That’s $50 over AirPods Pro. When Apple introduced third-gen AirPods, they cost $179 with a wireless charging case, which is $20 less than the second-gen with a wireless charging case (although more than the second-gen model without wireless charging had been before). So I find the idea of Apple increasing the price by $50 a bit surprising.
Also, while there are reports that the second generation AirPods are now down to $129, sales of the latest version have not been as strong as customers voted for the cheaper AirPods instead.
Of course, Apple probably won’t keep the current AirPods Pro in stock when the next model comes out, so the buyer’s dilemma doesn’t apply. Instead, customers are choosing between the second- and third-generation AirPods, the over-ear AirPods Max, and the all-new AirPods Pro 2.
More details as they emerge.