AirPods Pro 2 clue points to elite audio upgrade

Better Bluetooth looks like it is on its way to Apple's incoming top-tier true wireless earbuds

Apple AirPods Pro true wireless earbuds
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's best true wireless earbuds, the AirPods Pro, could be getting an important audio upgrade for the second-generation AirPods Pro 2.

Well, that's according to MacRumors, who've spotted (opens in new tab) a new filing by Apple in the Bluetooth SIG products database. The filing refers to a Bluetooth 5.3 host subsystem, and as MacRumors points out that probably means Bluetooth 5.2 hardware: Apple typically files its listings with one Bluetooth version higher than it's actually using, for reasons that are a complete mystery.

Bluetooth 5.2 in the AirPods Pro 2 would be a really big deal, because that means they'd support Bluetooth LE Audio and its more efficient LC3 codec. According (opens in new tab) to Manfred Lutzky, Head of Audio for Communications at Fraunhofer IIS – the institute that developed the MP3 codec – "Extensive listening tests have shown that LC3 will provide improvements in audio quality over the SBC codec included with Classic Audio, even at a 50% lower bit rate."

Better sound quality at lower bit rates with longer battery life? Sign me up.

Why LE Audio would be excellent in AirPods

There are other benefits to the newer Bluetooth standard too. It enables you to connect more devices, so for example you might connect multiple pairs of AirPods to the same iPhone 14, and it would enable each individual AirPod to connect directly to your phone to ensure they stayed in perfect sync with your device. 

It's possible that the update might not just be for AirPods. As MacRumors notes, the Beats Studio Buds support Bluetooth 5.2 too – so a firmware update is all they'd need to upgrade to LE Audio. 

Although Bluetooth 5.2 is still relatively new in headphones, it's starting to make its way into the best headphones from all kinds of manufacturers thanks to its blend of efficiency and sound quality. It's not something you can add to older phones, but even if your phone doesn't currently support the latest Bluetooth standard your next phone will – so it's something you should look for if you're thinking of buying any headphones or earbuds this year.

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 thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).