Apple’s AirPods 2 are one of the most keenly anticipated tech releases of 2022. The original AirPods Pro raised the bar for the best true wireless earbuds when they were released in October 2019, and while they’re still a very good pair of noise-cancelling earbuds the competition hasn’t exactly been sitting still.
That means the AirPods Pro 2 are launching into a very different market than the originals, with all kinds of rivals including Sony’s amazing WF-1000XM4, the audiophile-spec Astell&Kern UW100 and the impressive LG Tone Free T90s, among many others.
We saw the standard AirPods take a big leap forward with the release of the AirPods 3rd Gen earlier this year and we’re hoping for a similarly big leap for their more expensive cousin. And from what we’re hearing from rumours and leaks, that’s exactly what we’re going to get.
Without further ado, here’s what we know about the AirPods Pro 2 ahead of the next Apple event on 7th September...
AirPods Pro 2: release date
While many people are hoping we’ll see the AirPods Pro 2 at the iPhone 14 event on 7 September, there's also rumour that they'll appear at a later launch – at the same time as the new iPad in October. That does fit with previous Apple audio launches (both the AirPods Gen 3 and the original AirPods Pro were pre-Christmas releases) and it also ties in with the prediction by well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that the AirPods 2 would launch in the last three months of 2022, not September.
Some rumours have suggested that we won’t see the AirPods Pro 2 until early 2023, and part of that is because the AirPods Pro were slightly refreshed in late 2021 to add MagSafe charging support. But that’s countered by multiple rumours that say AirPods Pro 2 have already entered production, which fits with a 2022 release date.
One possibility is that the AirPods Pro 2 will be announced in September but might not ship immediately. That happened last year with the Apple Watch Series 7, which proved to be tricky to get for some time after launch. The supply issues that plagued most technology in the last two years aren’t entirely over, and even Apple isn’t entirely immune.
AirPods Pro 2: Price prediction
There are lots of rumors predicting that the AirPods Pro 2 will be the same price as the current AirPods Pro were at launch – $249/£249 – to differentiate them from the $179/£169 AirPods 3rd Gen. That does make sense, but it’s also possible that the price will go up: the strong US Dollar is having an effect on weaker currencies such as UK Sterling, and we’re expecting the iPhone 14 launch to reflect that with higher prices for some models.
It’s also possible – a long shot, but still possible – that Apple will keep the current AirPods Pro around as a midway step between the AirPods 3rd Gen and the new, 2022 AirPods Pro 2, with the newer version getting quite a steep price increase to somewhere around $300/£300. That's why, if you're thinking of buying AirPods Pro, our suggestion is to not buy now but wait.
That said, the intense competition means Apple isn’t going to want to drive you into the welcoming audio embrace of the Sony WF-1000XM4 or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, so it’ll be doing as much as it can to keep the price static.
AirPods Pro 2: Features
One of the things we’ve seen in many of the best true wireless earbuds this year is support for hi-res audio. Current AirPods don’t support that because they don’t have the necessary Bluetooth codecs that recent Qualcomm’s chips include, and even the mighty AirPods Max only support hi-res audio via wired connections. The normal Bluetooth connection used by existing AirPods just doesn’t have the capacity for high-resolution audio streaming.
That’s widely expected to change with the AirPods Pro 2, with multiple reports claiming that Apple is working on hi-res audio for the new AirPods Pro. That won’t be via the same Bluetooth aptX HD technology used on the best Android phones and compatible earbuds; it may instead take a leaf out of Sony’s book and use its own codec – which in Sony’s case is LDAC – over normal Bluetooth connections. Apple’s engineers have previously voiced their frustrations with existing Bluetooth audio, so creating their own solution via Apple’s lossless ALAC codec might be on their to-do list.
That’s not to say better Bluetooth isn’t coming. Apple has filed regulatory notices featuring Bluetooth 5.3, which is likely to mean 5.2 in imminent product launches (Apple tends to file a version up from what it’s actually making right now). Bluetooth 5.2 has better connectivity, longer battery life and the ability to connect multiple earbud pairs to a single device. It also enables each individual AirPod Pro 2 to have its own connection to your phone to ensure perfect synchronisation of audio – something that may be necessary for hi-res audio streaming.
The AirPods Pro 2 are expected to have an upgraded H1 chip with improved active noise-cancelling (ANC), and they are also expected to have the same skin-detecting sensors as the 3rd Gen AirPods. According to MacRumors they will share their acoustic design with the AirPods 3rd Gen, featuring a “combination of customized high-amplitude drive units and high-dynamic-range amplifiers.”
One of the most tantalising rumors is that the AirPods Pro 2 will have similar capabilities to high-spec hearing aids. The charging case will listen to the environment and transmit audio to the earbuds, enabling those of us with hearing loss to better hear people in busy environments. However, this particular rumour appears to be standing on its own without corroboration from any other reputable sources, so we’re taking this one – sadly – with a pinch of salt.
AirPods Pro 2: Design
Apple may be famous for its Think Different slogan, but we’re not expecting it to think too different for the AirPods Pro 2: shorter stems and a design slightly closer to that of the Beats Fit Pro appear to be the only dramatic change. Don’t expect a Beats-style range of colours, though: Apple likes to keep its AirPods the same white as the earbuds that featured in its iconic iPod adverts (remember those?).
Less excitingly but more usefully, multiple reports predict that the charging case will have USB-C rather than Lightning as Apple continues its slow rollout of USB-C across all its major products.