We know that when Apple launches the iPhone 15 range on 12 September, all the new iPhones will come with USB-C connections. But a new report says that we can expect to see USB-C AirPods at the same event.
This isn't entirely new; we reported back in July that AirPods Pro 2 were getting a minor update this year in which the current Lightning charging case would be replaced by a USB-C one instead; the existence of USB-C AirPods was revealed in leaked code in spring 2023. But the new report is a little vague and could mean that normal AirPods 3 could be getting the same upgrade too.
The report comes via Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, who says that "To match the new iPhones, Apple will introduce updated AirPods at the event that include a USB-C charging port". However, he didn't have any more details to share and there's no information about whether the AirPods 3, which were launched in 2021, would be updated beyond possibly getting a new charging case.
Why is USB-C coming to AirPods?
Apple has been moving away from Lightning to USB-C in a lot of its products, such as Macs and iPads, and it makes sense to have everything use the same kind of connectors: it reduces cable clutter and potentially e-waste too, which is why EU regulators brought in laws mandating USB-C for consumer electronics sold in Europe. So to some extent Apple doesn't have a choice if it wants to sell iPhones to Europe.
There are benefits for us too, though. USB-C has much faster data and charging speeds than Lightning, which is pretty old now: the Lightning connector was introduced to the iPhone range in the iPhone 5, replacing the old 30-pin dock connector that dated back to early iPods. What seemed quite nippy at the time is positively sluggish today: Lightning matched USB 2.0 speeds of 480Mbps. That was fine for the iPhone 5. It's not so good when you want to transfer ProRes files from an iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Clearly USB-C is coming to all of Apple's kit. But it'll take a while, because Apple makes a lot of kit: not just iPhones and iPads and AirPods but also MagSafe charging accessories, its Magic Keyboard models and Magic Trackpad, and various other accessories. Apple is naturally focusing on the most important items first, so it might be some time before Lightning is completely gone from the line-up.