AirPods Pro 2: The complete guide to Apple’s next high-end earbuds
July 20, 2022 July 20, 2022
The original AirPods Pro were introduced in October 2019, two and a half years ago. How long will we have to wait for Apple to update the AirPods Pro and unveil its second generation of premium wireless earbuds?
The AirPods are extremely popular products, so it seems bizarre that Apple leaves it so long between updates. The standard AirPods also went two and a half years between their second edition in March 2019 and the third in October 2021 (you may be interested to read our 2021 AirPods review). Could Apple make fans wait even longer for the new AirPods Pro?
In this article, we take a look at how Apple will evolve the AirPods Pro line-up in 2022, and examine the release date, price, tech specs, design changes and new features of the upcoming models which may features a new design, longer battery life, fitness tracking and support for lossless streaming of Apple Music.
Will there be new AirPods in 2022?
Apple introduced a new version of its standard AirPods back in 2021, but the AirPods Pro remained untouched. Will we see new AirPods Pro in 2022? It certainly looks like it, and with the three year anniversary of the AirPods Pro fast approaching, it’s about time. As Bloomberg’s Apple expert Mark Gurman said in a May newsletter: “The batteries are already probably in trouble for some early adopters,” so Apple will likely release a new model this fall, roughly two and a half years after the original model. That’s about the same time frame between AirPods releases.
AirPods Pro 2022 release date: When will Apple launch new AirPods Pro?
We expect the next version of the AirPods Pro to launch in the fall of 2022: likely September or October. If Apple waits until October it will have been three years since the original AirPods Pro launched.
The new models have been expected for some time, back in 2021 there were rumours that Apple was working on new AirPods Pro, but due to component shortages and COVID-related delays only the AirPods 3 launched. But Apple is now ramping up to launch new AirPods Pro.
In May 2022, Apple analyst Ming Chi-Kuo tweeted the following:
AirPods Pro 2022 price: How much will AirPods Pro 2 cost?
Price-wise, we expect the new AirPods Pro to cost $249, which is the same as the current model (although the AirPods Pro are frequently on sale for less than $200). The new Beats Fit Pro retail for $200, so it’s likely Apple will keep the AirPods Pro at $249 to separate the two models.
For comparison, here’s the pricing for the current range of AirPods on the Apple Store:
AirPods 2nd generation: $129 / £119 / AU$219
AirPods 3rd generation: $179 / £169 / AU$279
AirPods Pro: $249 / £239 / AU$399
AirPods Max: $549 / £549 / AU$899
Note that the current AirPods Pro model is likely to be discontinued when the new one comes out, rather than sticking around with a price cut.
AirPods Pro 2022 design: What will the AirPods Pro look like?
With the AirPods receiving a redesign in 2021, we assume that the AirPods Pro will change in order for the differences between the two types of AirPods to be clear.
There is some evidence that this will be the case: Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, for example, believes that the new AirPods Pro will have no stems, in a radical step. He said in a May 2021 report that the new AirPods Pro may not feature shafts, following a similar design to the Beats Studio Buds or the Beats Fit Pro. where the AirPods would fit flush in the ear.
However, 52audio in June 2022 wrote that the design won’t be that different from the 2019 after all. In fact it will take cues from the AirPods 3.
According to 52audio, the biggest upgrade to the AirPods Pro could be the charging case, which will gain a USB-C support for fast charging and a small speaker for better Find My support. This backs up a January 2022 Ming-Chi Kuo claim that the second-gen AirPods Pro could come with a case that can emit a sound to help locate it when lost. There will apparently be a hearing aid mic connection too.
Changes to the charging case would be good news: we do have a few reservations about the current charging case: it’s harder to get the Pros out than other AirPods models, and the hinge feels less robust. (The hinge sits along the longer edge because the Pro models are shorter and wider than before.) Perhaps Apple could tweak the case design in lieu of major changes to the earbuds themselves.
It’s also been claimed that the new AirPods Pro will come in two sizes for the first time. This prediction is based on leaked components, and was made via a tweet by Mr White back in 2020:
He referred to the image as W-chips, but it’s actually the H-chips that feature in the AirPods so we assume that’s a mistake. The components that feature in the leaked images come in two different sizes, suggesting that Apple may have two sizes of next-gen AirPods Pro in the works. (It appears that Mr White has since deleted the tweet, though it’s unclear whether that means it was wrong or just ruffled the wrong feathers.)
Another top request for the new AirPods Pro is a choice of more sizes of ear tips so users can ensure they get the perfect fit. Currently Apple only offers three sizes: small, medium or large, so hopefully there will be more on offer with the next generation. Buy AirPods Pro Ear Tips here.
It’s feasible that we could see a new color option when the next set of AirPods Pro is launched. It would be unusual for Apple to get this far into a product line without offering at least two colors. The AirPod Max, indeed, get five: Space Gray, Silver, Pink, Green, and Sky Blue.
Space Gray (or another variant on black or dark gray) is probably the most likely – indeed there have been rumors that a black pair of AirPods were being considered and there are certainly people who would love black AirPods.
AirPods Pro 2022 new features: Will the AirPods Pro have new tech?
When convincing customers to spend more on the premium AirPods, features are the key. What’s Apple got up its sleeve?
The AirPods Pro could be in line for gesture-based controls. Apple applied for a patent in 2020 called Wearable Voice-Induced Vibration or Silent Gesture Sensor, which describes the use of a sensor to scan the user’s face and detect minute changes in expression, and the muscular movements associated with speech even if not spoken out loud. This could be used to trigger commands, or as a biometric identification tool for improved security.
The limitations of Bluetooth are the main reason why the 2019 AirPods Pro cannot support Lossless Audio (which we will discuss in more detail in the section below). It appears that Apple will rectify this by enhancing Bluetooth in the new models.
Discussing Apple’s new technologies in a February 2022 interview, acoustics VP Gary Geaves said: “There’s a catch, as far as I can see it–a bottleneck that’s been preventing real qualitative leaps in the sound of wireless headphones essentially since wireless headphones came into being. I’m talking about Bluetooth, of course, which almost all wireless headphones, including AirPods, rely upon and which doesn’t have the data rate for hi-res or even lossless audio.”
Geaves added a note of optimism about the possibility of innovation in this space. “It’s fair to say that we would like more bandwidth and… I’ll stop right there,” he said. “We would like more bandwidth.”
How can Apple get this extra bandwidth? The obvious choice would be for the company to upgrade from Bluetooth 5.0 (used in the AirPods 3 and current AirPods Pro) to 6GHz Bluetooth.
Better battery life
The next AirPods Pro are rumored to get longer battery life and faster charging due to the new USB-C equipped case.
A June 2022 report from 52audio claims the new AirPods Pro will feature an upgraded version of the H1 chip supporting “self-adaptive active noise cancellation”, along with improved Find My, heart-rate measurement, a heavily modified USB-C charging case, and hearing aid functionality. We’ll discuss that exciting collection of new features below, but the H2 chip should brings a number of benefits to Bluetooth streaming.
All AirPods (AirPods 2, AirPods 3, Pro and Max) feature the H1 chip, so this new upgraded version may well be called the H2.
AirPods Pro 2022 audio: Will the AirPods Pro 2 sound better?
Three years on from the introduction of the AirPods Pro, what new audio features can Apple add to its flagship earbuds?
Lossless and 6Gz Bluetooth
Apple launched Lossless Audio and Lossless High-Res Audio for Apple Music in June 2021, but due to the limitations of Bluetooth and the AAC codec, none of the current AirPods are able to stream the higher-quality tracks. However, Apple rumor monger Jon Prosser reported that Apple is working on a new audio codec that would allow lossless streaming over AirPods, which could get an introduction alongside the new models.
In January 2022, Kuo offered a corroborating report (via 9to5Mac) that the second-gen AirPods Pro will bring “support for Apple Lossless (ALAC) format.”
If the AirPods Pro support Lossless, Apple may also need to enhance the Bluetooth capabilities (see above).
According to Bloomberg (in 2021), the next AirPods Pro will focus more on fitness tracking and have updated motion sensors. They may even offer tracking assistance of sorts when you’re not wearing them.
Heart rate sensor
A heart rate sensor could also be coming to the AirPods Pro. While optical heart rate sensors can be uncomfortable, sport-loving users swear by them and they are offered by some rival earbuds. It’s lookiung like this won’t make it into the AirPods Pro 2, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility for the future.
This heart-rate feature will apparently “collect and analyze the wearer’s inner ear data”.
Speaking of health and fitness, improved water resistance would be beneficial. The IPX4 rating currently offered leaves a fair bit of room for improvement. The RHA TrueConnect and Creative Outlier Air headphones, which are the top two choices in our roundup of the best wireless earbuds, are both rated IPX5; the JBL UA True Wireless Flash buds are rated as a ‘stormproof’ IPX7. We hope to see improvements here.