Apple AirPods Pro 2 rumors: 2022 release date, new design and everything else we’ve heard


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The AirPods Pro (pictured) may get an upgrade in 2022.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple hasn’t updated the AirPods Pro since they launched in 2019. Aside from adding a MagSafe-compatible case in 2021, the wireless earbuds have remained largely the same while retaining a $249, £239, AU$399 price when it isn’t on sale. According to several rumors, that’s about to change. A new version of the AirPods Pro with a refreshed design and other upgrades could debut next year, if reports turn out to be true.

The current AirPods Pro brought more premium features like active noise cancellation and a customizable fit to Apple’s wireless earbuds. Based on the reports we’ve seen so far, the second-generation model will add further improvements such as a sleeker stemless design and fitness capabilities. Such changes could be important for Apple to remain competitive with rivals like Samsung, Bose, Sony and others. 

AirPods were initially marketed as a companion to the iPhone 7, Apple’s first smartphone without a headphone jack. But in the five years since launch, AirPods have become the most popular wireless earbuds in the world. Apple’s current AirPods lineup alongside the aforementioned AirPods Pro includes the $129 AirPods (second-generation), $179 AirPods (third-generation) and the $549 over-ear AirPods Max

Here’s a closer look at what to expect from the possible AirPods Pro 2.

Read more: Yes, the AirPods 2 are still worth buying, even though the AirPods 3 are pretty great

The AirPods Pro 2 will likely launch in 2022, possibly in Q4

Reports from Bloomberg and the reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo both say the AirPods Pro will debut in 2022. But it’s unclear precisely when we can expect to see them.

Kuo predicts the AirPods Pro 2 will arrive in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to a research note obtained by MacRumors. That suggests they could be part of Apple’s product blitz that typically takes place toward the end of the year. For example, Apple announced the iPhone 13
lineup, the Apple Watch Series 7, the AirPods 3 and a new line of MacBook Pro laptops this past September and October. Bloomberg, on the other hand, didn’t specify a timeframe within 2022 for the AirPods Pro 2’s release. 

The AirPods Pro 2 may lose the stems

It might be time to say goodbye to the white glossy stems that AirPods have had since their 2016 launch. Apple’s next AirPods Pro could come with a more discrete, stem-free look similar to the Beats Studio Buds, according to Bloomberg. That report says Apple is testing this type of design, so it’s unclear if that would reflect the final product.

If true, it would mark the first time that Apple has significantly resigned its true wireless earbuds since the first AirPods Pro launched in 2019. It would also make the AirPods Pro look more like other competing earbuds from Samsung, Amazon and Bose among others.

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The Beats Studio Buds have a stem-free design unlike Apple’s AirPods. 


David Carnoy/CNET

It also raises the question of how Apple will implement touch controls on the next AirPods Pro model. The stems on the current version house Apple’s Force Sensor, which lets you control media playback and access Siri. Without the stems, Apple would likely have to place these touch controls on the earbuds themselves, similar to the Beats Studio Buds.

The AirPods Pro 2 may also get a new case, according to Japanese blog Macotakara. That makes sense considering the case would have to be slightly different to match the buds’ new design. The report lists the dimensions of this new case as being the same as the AirPods 3’s, which is water resistant (unlike Apple’s other AirPods cases).

Read more: AirPods Pro 2 might get a redesign that abandons the iconic stems, and that’s a real shame

They might have fitness tracking features

AirPods can do a lot of things, but activity tracking isn’t one of them. Apple might change that soon enough with the AirPods Pro 2, which will feature updated motion tracking sensors intended for fitness tracking, according to Bloomberg.

The report doesn’t get into additional details, but an Apple patent application from 2017 suggests it could be exploring ways to measure biometric signals through earbuds. 

Apple would be joining companies like Jabra and Amazon, both of which already offer fitness-oriented features in their respective wireless earbuds. Jabra’s Elite Sport earbuds can track repetition counts during workouts and heart rate, while the Echo Buds can track workouts.

What else we’re expecting from the AirPods Pro 2

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The AirPods Pro (pictured) launched in 2019, and Apple hasn’t released a new model since. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

Although Apple hasn’t said anything about its future plans for AirPods, there’s a lot we can infer based on the AirPods 3. For example, the $179 AirPods offer slightly better battery life than both the pricier AirPods Pro and second-generation AirPods. It seems plausible that Apple would improve the AirPods Pro 2’s battery life to at least match, if not exceed, that of the AirPods 3.

It also wouldn’t be surprising to see the next AirPods Pro gain the AirPods 3’s skin detect sensor, which can more accurately detect when an AirPod is making contact with the wearer’s ear versus a different surface. 

Read more: Our iPhone SE wishlist: We want to see these upgrades in 2022

Another lingering question is how much the AirPods Pro 2 will cost. Apple sells the current AirPods Pro for $249, although you can usually find them for less elsewhere. We don’t know anything for certain about Apple’s future plans. 

But if Apple discontinues the original AirPods Pro when it announces the new ones — a strong possibility — it could keep the $249 price for the new model. Apple didn’t change the standard AirPods price when it launched the second-generation AirPods in 2019. And although the AirPods Pro may be a bit expensive compared to some of Apple’s competitors, their popularity has proven that people are willing to pay a higher price. 

If the rumors are accurate, it sounds like the new design and fitness tracking capabilities will be the biggest upgrades we can expect. Those changes might not be enough to sway anyone who’s recently purchased the AirPods Pro. But they could be significant enough to coerce those who bought the originals back in 2019 to upgrade. But we’ll have to wait until Apple makes an announcement to know for sure. 


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