Apple gearing up for “biggest AirPods launch ever” with two new models imminent

The next AirPods Pro won't be here until 2025 but this year's AirPods updates promise to be significant upgrades

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

Get ready for the "biggest AirPods launch to date", a launch so big that Apple's suppliers are expecting to be doing record-breaking numbers. That's according to Bloomberg, which says that this year's AirPods update will be a really big deal.

While the Apple AirPods Pro 2 aren't scheduled for a redesign this year – the recent move to USB-C charging is all you're getting until 2025 – there are believed to be two new models of AirPods coming in 2024. They'll be replacing two generations, the AirPods 2nd Gen and the AirPods 3rd Gen, and they'll be significant upgrades for both.

So what can we expect?

AirPods (4th Gen): key features and specifications

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, the updated versions have the codenames B768(E) and B768(M); the E stands for entry level and the M for mid-tier. Both versions will have a new design and will reportedly fit better; as you'd expect, both will also have USB-C charging cases.

The key difference between the E and M models is that the M models will get active noise cancellation, and their charging case will also have a Find My speaker to help you hear it if it's misplaced or moved.

Gurman says that Apple is also working on some big software updates across its AirPods range. Those updates, which are currently scheduled for iOS 18 later this year, apparently include a new hearing aid mode for the AirPods Pro.

Apple is also working on a hearing test feature for unspecified AirPods models, and in the longer term Apple is still thinking about AirPods that include low-res cameras that can scan the area around you while you wear them. Those cameras are believed to be designed to provide data for some kind of AI-based feature, although so far the details of what that feature may be are still secret.

While it's fun to think about far-future features, the most interesting news here is the arrival of ANC into non-Pro AirPods, a move that should help them compete with the best wireless earbuds. If you look at our guide you'll see that while the AirPods Pro 2 are highly placed the 3rd gen AirPods don't feature; when rivals such as the Nothing Ear (2) can deliver ANC for a fraction of the cost, the current AirPods seem somewhat overpriced.

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 (