AirPods Max and AirPods 4 still expected this year with USB-C charging

Apple is still on track to update its best true wireless headphones and earbuds for a 2024 release

Apple AirPods 3rd Gen held in hand
(Image credit: Future)

Apple's AirPods Max and AirPods (3rd gen) feel like they've been around forever, and that's because they have: with launch dates of 2020 and late 2020 respectively they're effectively the pensioners of the best headphones party.

Age isn't necessarily a problem when it comes to audio kit – some of the best turntables around haven't changed much since the 1970s – but Apple's earbuds and over-ears aren't just audio hardware but tech products too, and some of that tech is starting to look old in the tooth. For example my AirPods Max are still rocking a Lightning connector long after the world, and even Apple, embraced USB-C.

Apple was widely expected to update its AirPods Max and AirPods 3rd Gen this year, but things have been quiet on the rumour front for some months now. However a new report says that the updated headphones and earbuds are still on track for a 2024 release.

What to expect from AirPods Max 2 and AirPods (4th gen)

According to's Mark Gurman, the plan for a late 2024 update is still very much under way; Apple intends to discontinue the second and third generation AirPods in favour of a new design that delivers better comfort, better sound quality and a USB-C charging case. There may also be a more premium model with noise cancellation and a speaker in the case that'll work with Apple's Find My hardware location tracking.

The AirPods Max are barely going to change at all, however. USB-C is a definite, for both charging and for wired audio, but other than the possibility of some new colours Apple is reportedly quite happy with the rest of the AirPods Max specification. That's a little bit disappointing because while Apple's headphones are undoubtedly good, they're not as technologically advanced as the AirPods Pro 2, which have adaptive audio and conversational awareness. It seems odd that Apple wouldn't at least want to bring the AirPods Max up to the same standard given that they're the flagship of Apple's headphone range. 

According to Gurman there won't be an update to the AirPods Pro this year; that's currently pencilled in for 2025.

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; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).