Now that Apple
has unveiled the third-generation AirPods
with more battery life, improved audio (including Spatial Audio), and a new design featuring a shorter stem, the next step is to introduce a sequel to the premium version of the device, the AirPods
Pro. The latter features Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and the transparency mode which allows the user to hear ambient noises that normally would be blocked by the ANC.
Leaked images allegedly reveal the AirPods Pro 2 with changes made to the charging case
The AirPods Pro 2 could be introduced by Apple next year and following the shrinking of the stem on the third-generation AirPods, the second-generation AirPods Pro could have its entire stem removed according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. But that is not what we see in photographs allegedly showing the next iteration of Apple's premium True Wireless Stereo earbuds
Leaked photo allegedly shows the AirPods Pro 2 and the included charging case
The person who handed over the image to MacRumors claims that they came from an "Apple internal source." The only difference between the actual AirPods Pro and the photo allegedly revealing the sequel is the lack of the optical sensor found on the underside of each earbud. Considering that Apple has moved from using optical sensors to a skin-detect sensor with the AirPods 3, the missing optical sensor actually raises the possibility that the photo of the AirPods Pro 2 is genuine.
While some might question the speaker holes found on the bottom of the case (which would be an unusual place to find them), the source has an answer. Supposedly, next year's iOS 16 update will include a new feature offering "Find My" support for the AirPods Pro 2 buds and carrying case individually. Out of the speaker holes on the bottom of the case, a sound will play that will help the user find a missing charging case.
The source also shoots down Gurman's stemless design for the AirPods Pro 2 and says that such a design is not going to happen right now. While Apple would like to make the product more compact, getting rid of the stem completely might make it too hard for the company to find space for all of the circuitry needed to build the device. So while Apple has reportedly tested a rounder, stemless version of the AirPods Pro 2, the idea will most likely have to be scrapped.
Arrows show the new strap holder on the AirPods Pro 2 charging case and the speaker holes on the bottom of the case
It isn't clear what changes Apple might include with the AirPods Pro 2, but most likely these would be internal changes such as a larger capacity battery and possibly new chips providing a better audio experience. One physical change that appears in the photos is a metal strap holder on the side of the charging case that one could attach a strap to. While Apple hasn't placed a strap holder on any other iteration of its AirPods charging cases, it doesn't seem to be too far-fetched for Apple to include such a feature for the case that will accompany the AirPods Pro 2 next year.
We could see the sequel to the premium AirPods surface during the first quarter of 2022
When Apple unveiled the third-generation AirPods, it kept the second-generation AirPods as an entry-level model priced at $129. The AirPods 3 is priced at $179 and the AirPods Pro is $249. When the AirPods Pro sequel hits the market, we'd expect it to completely replace the current "Pro" version of the "earable" either at the same price or with a slight price hike. The goal is to offer "good," "better," and "best variants of the device.
Since the photos have not been confirmed as being genuine by Apple, we do recommend that you take them with a grain of salt. What usually happens in a situation like this is that the number of renders, photos, and press images grows exponentially the closer we get to the introduction of the device. If we had to guess, the AirPods Pro 2 could see the light of day next March.