Since the AirPods Pro were released in October 2019, we haven't seen an updated version, but that could change in 2021. Apple is rumored to be working on a new version of the AirPods Pro, the AirPods Pro 2, and there could be some design changes in store.
This guide covers everything that we know so far about the AirPods Pro 2.
Redesign or No Redesign?
The AirPods Pro already feature a shorter stem than the standard AirPods, but the second-generation version of the AirPods could perhaps have no stem at all, according to some rumors.
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has said that Apple wants to make the AirPods Pro 2 more compact by eliminating the short stem that sticks out from the bottom. Apple is testing a more rounded shape, which would mean the AirPods 2 might look more similar to something like the Google Pixel Buds or the Samsung Galaxy Buds, both of which are stemless, but Apple might not be able to make it happen.
Despite the rumors of an AirPods Pro redesign that eliminates the stem, leaked images of the unreleased AirPods Pro discovered by MacRumors suggest otherwise, and in fact indicate that the AirPods Pro could have few design changes.
The AirPods in the images do not have a stemless design as has been rumored, and the source that supplied the images said that the AirPods will not have the stemless design. The person that provided the images to MacRumors said they were from an "Apple internal source," and while they can't be fully verified, there are signs that suggest they are accurate.
The images depict a charging case with speaker holes on the bottom, and a spot for a lanyard at the side. The speaker holes are allegedly for a Find My feature that will allow the case to be locatable even when the AirPods aren't inside, with the case able to play a sound when lost.
Analysis by MacRumors suggests that the AirPods Pro have skin-detect sensors, similar to the third-generation AirPods. In fact, the skin-detect sensors in the leaked images are the exact same size and orientation as the third-generation AirPods, lending authenticity to the images and indicating an AirPods 3-like design.
Renders from 52Audio have also indicated that Apple will not be significantly changing the design of the AirPods Pro. The site's images feature a chassis with a stem, and a look that's similar to the AirPods 3.
Updated H1 Chip
Rumors suggest the AirPods Pro will include a new H1 chip with an upgraded SiP packaging system and self-adaptive noise cancellation capabilities. The AirPods are expected to offer better performance and improved power consumption thanks to the chip update.
Heart Rate Detection and Other Sensors
Some rumors suggest the AirPods Pro 2 might be able to detect heart rate or body temperature from within the ear, but other rumors indicate that it's not going to happen.
Current AirPods and AirPods Pro models do not support Lossless because AirPods play audio using Bluetooth, and Bluetooth is limited to the AAC codec. Higher quality Apple Lossless Audio files would need to be streamed to the AirPods Pro directly in a way that circumvents Bluetooth, so Apple would need to develop some kind of alternative connection solution.
Find My Sound Integration
The next-generation AirPods Pro are expected to be able to play a sound for location tracking purposes, and they are expected to integrate with the Find My app. Emitting a sound will let users locate their AirPods Pro if they are lost or misplaced somewhere nearby.
The AirPods Pro 2 will apparently share acoustics with the AirPods 3, featuring a "combination of customized high-amplitude drive units and high-dynamic-range amplifiers." Self-adaptive equalization, spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, and audio sharing will be included.
A future version of the AirPods Pro could include a USB-C connector instead of a Lightning connector, as Apple is rumored to be planning to introduce iPhone 15 models with a USB-C port instead of a Lightning port in 2023 to comply with new regulations being introduced in Europe.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said the AirPods Pro 2 are not expected to feature a USB-C port, with Apple instead opting for Lightning for this year's refresh, but 52Audio claims USB-C is coming this year.
Hearing Aid Capabilities
52Audio claims that the AirPods Pro 2 will serve as a hearing aid. Sound can apparently "be collected through the charging case and transmitted to the earphone for sound enhancement and playback," with the aim of helping people with hearing loss better hear sound in the environment. The site believes that what was previously described as a lanyard holder on the side of the AirPods Pro 2 is actually some kind of hearing aid function, which sounds questionable and should be viewed with some skepticism at this time.
The AirPods Pro 2 are expected to see a 2022 launch, with the earbuds likely set to debut in the fall alongside new iPhones.
For more on the current version of the AirPods Pro and the AirPods Pro 2, we have a dedicated AirPods Pro roundup that walks through all of the features.