New AirPods Pro are coming next week, but don't expect a massive upgrade

This could be the most underwhelming AirPods upgrade ever, but it's still a worthwhile improvement

AirPods Pro 2
(Image credit: Amazon)

Imagine the outcry if Apple took to the stage at next week's iPhone 15 launch and showed off iPhones that were absolutely identical to the iPhone 14 in every way apart from their charging connector. That's not going to happen, of course, although it'd be quite funny. But that's apparently what Apple's doing with the AirPods Pro 2 at the same event.

As we reported in July, the AirPods Pro are getting an update this year so that their charging case will have a USB-C rather than a Lightning connector. It's all part of Apple's EU-mandated move to a common rather than proprietary charging standard, and the latest report by Bloomberg says that the new connector is the only hardware change. 

Don't buy AirPods Pro 2 this week unless it's with a massive discount

If you've been thinking of buying a pair of AirPods Pro 2 then it's wise to wait a week or so until the new ones launch – not least because it also means that the current Lightning model is likely to be discounted by retailers when the new model ships. While USB-C is nice to have, if you've been using Apple stuff for a while you're bound to have a few compatible cables still – and the current model of AirPods Pro has wireless charging, so mine are sitting on a charging pad in front of me right now.

The big news around AirPods Pro this year isn't the hardware; it's iOS 17. That's bringing in some very significant upgrades to what your earbuds can do, and many of the features are also coming to AirPods (3rd gen) and AirPods Max too.

The most important iOS 17 feature for AirPods Pro 2 users is likely to be Adaptive Audio. Adaptive Audio takes two separate noise cancelling features, Transparency and Active Noise Cancellation, and uses a clever algorithm to combine them. 

This is something we're increasingly seeing in the best noise cancelling headphones and it's particularly useful in urban environments where the noise around you is constantly changing and you're moving from loud to quiet places and back again. There's also Sony-style Conversation Awareness, which will reduce your music or podcast volume when you speak.

We're expecting iOS 17 to get a big demo at the iPhone 15 launch, but the software itself is likely to be released shortly after the event rather than when the keynote finishes: in recent years there's been a gap of a week or two between event and availability. Going by the latest betas, which seem to be rock-solid, iOS 17 only needs a quick polish before it's good to go – and before it upgrades your AirPods 3, AirPods Pro 2 or AirPods Max.

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 (