The AirPods Pro 2 could feature largely the same design as the current model, bucking rumors of a “stemless” design, according to new insights based on allegedly leaked images shared by MacRumors last year.
Last year, MacRumors shared images allegedly revealing the second-gen “AirPods Pro” — seemingly showing a design with very few changes. Now based on new 3D scale comparisons MacRumorsApple concept art designer Ian Zelbo’s images provide further proof that the second-gen “AirPods Pro” won’t have a so-called “stemless” design.
From last year’s images, the rumored second-gen ‘AirPods Pro’ earbuds don’t have downward-facing IR sensors to detect when they’re in a user’s ears, but instead feature the latest 3D comparisons , which were seen by MacRumors are actively suggesting that the new “AirPods Pro” will come with skin detection sensors.
Apple’s skin detection sensors debuted in the third-generation AirPods, offering a more accurate way of detecting whether the earbuds are actually in a user’s ears rather than in a pocket or on a table. The sensors work by detecting the water content in the wearer’s skin, ensuring other surfaces are not mistaken for flesh.
Instead of skin detection sensors in each earbud, the current “AirPods Pro” use two optical sensors to detect if they’re in a user’s ear. While they effectively perform the same function, the optical sensors can simply detect when they’re on a surface or covered, and not specifically on the skin. This means that if you put an AirPods Pro earbud in a pocket or on a surface, playback may incorrectly resume. That’s why Apple switched to skin detection sensors for more accuracy, with the added benefit of only needing a single, slightly larger central sensor per earbud.
Zelbo’s scaled comparisons confirm that the alleged second-gen “AirPods Pro” images show skin-detection sensors that are exactly the same size and orientation as the third-gen AirPods. On the current-gen AirPods Pro, the main IR sensor is part of a long, thin black rectangle that also contains a grid of the same shape. The new skin detection sensor cutout, which is believed to be present on the second-gen “AirPods Pro,” features a shorter, noticeably thicker rectangle with a circular grid, like the third-gen AirPods.
This small but crucial detail could indicate that the images are more believable than previously thought – making it more likely that the second-gen “AirPods Pro” won’t feature a major redesign. In fact, Zelbo’s results suggest that beyond the cutout of the skin detection sensor, the design of the new earbud is identical to that of the current-gen AirPods Pro, with no changes to the length of the stem or the shape of the earpiece of the earphone.
Rumors have swirled around the idea of the second-gen AirPods Pro moving to a “stemless” design, but upon closer inspection, reputable sources haven’t specifically stated that this will happen. For example, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the second-gen “AirPods Pro” will feature a “new form factor design,” presumably due to knowledge of some kind of conversion, but hasn’t specifically said they’ll be a stemless design will exhibit.
In October 2020, BloombergMark Gurman said Apple aimed to make the second-gen AirPods Pro earbuds more compact by eliminating the short stem that currently extends from the bottom, and was reportedly testing a design with “a more rounded shape.” , which more of a user fills an ear,” making them stylistically closer to Samsung’s Galaxy Buds and designs from companies like Amazon and Google. However, Gurman said Apple has had trouble adapting the “AirPods Pro’s” hardware, including antennas and microphones to fit into a much smaller package, which “could result in a less ambitious design when the product is complete.”
Kuo also appears to have supported other aspects illustrated in MacRumors” Second-gen AirPods Pro images, which may add to their credibility. Earlier this year, Kuo explained that the second-gen “AirPods Pro” will feature a charging case that allows users to trigger a sound to highlight their location, allowing the earbuds and case to be placed separately. This aligns directly with the speaker holes visible on the charging case MacRumors‘ Pictures. It’s likely that this noise-making charging case will be integrated into the Find My app, much like how users can currently emit a sound from their individual AirPods inside the case to help locate them.
It is therefore by no means certain, based on information provided by Kuo, Gurman and MacRumors that the second generation “AirPods Pro” will have a stemless design. In fact, there now seems to be growing evidence to the contrary.
Apple’s Beats Studio Buds, which share a large amount of technology with the “AirPods Pro”, have a full in-ear design and don’t feature “stems” at all. The fact that the Beats Studio Buds offer a “stemless” design doesn’t necessarily indicate that the “AirPods Pro” will follow; Apple often tries to find ways to differentiate its Beats and AirPods lines. Apple has also established a distinctive and easily identifiable visual brand for AirPods with the “stick” design and use of white plastic, and it’s questionable whether the company is willing to deviate from that any time soon, let alone the implications of the removal of the stem to implement force-sensing controls and beamforming microphones.
The second-gen AirPods Pro are rumored to offer support for Apple Lossless Audio (ALAC) via a new connection solution, with a fall launch date now likely.