AirPods 4 tipped for ANC and new design

Apple is reportedly working on two new non-Pro AirPods including a new model with active noise cancellation

Apple AirPods 3
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has big plans for AirPods in 2024: the AirPods Max are getting a refresh, the AirPods Pro are getting at the very least a significant software upgrade and there are two new models of non-pro AirPods in development to replace the excellent AirPods 3

That's according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, whose sources have gone into lots of details about Apple's ear-related plans for 2024. According to Gurman, 2024 is going to be an unusual year for Apple because the iPhone won't be the star: while of course there's an iPhone 16 coming, it's not going to be a particularly significant upgrade. This year Apple's focus is on things you can put on your head (Vision Pro), things you can put on your wrist (Apple Watch) and things you can stick in or on your ears (AirPods).

As much as we love the AirPods 3, we don't love the way that sound from the outside world leaks in – so a pair of 'pods for a non-Pro price with Pro-style ANC could be music to our ears. 

Here's what we know so far.

Three sets of buds and new AirPods Max too

According to Gurman, the two new AirPods models will be joined by refreshed AirPods Pro and AirPods Max in 2024. The Pro upgrade is likely to be in software – the next major refresh of the AirPods Pro hardware isn't expected until 2025 – and the Max's update will be a USB-C port and some new colours. But the standard AirPods' update is the most interesting.

The two AirPods 4 models will be largely the same, with slightly updated designs, USB-C charging cases and a slight redesign to those cases. But one of those models will be getting the ANC that's currently exclusive to the AirPods Pro, bringing that feature into a lower price bracket.

We don't know what the specific price will be, but before any retail deals apply the AirPods 3 are currently £179 and the AirPods Pro are £229, so a price somewhere between the two seems likely. That would bring them in at a similar price to the Sony WF-1000XM4 wireless noise cancelling earbuds, currently our pick of the best wireless earbuds, and it'd make them much more affordable than my current favourite ANC buds, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (