AirPods Pro are now the world’s best-selling earbuds, and there’s a reason…
Released in 2016, the original AirPods solved a certain problem that wasn’t exactly “the end of the world”, but certainly annoyed many. I’m talking about the wire spinning and spinning wired earbuds† Wired earbuds. Wired earbuds… Doesn’t that sound scary?Jokes aside, AirPods (or wireless earbuds as a whole) has really changed the way we consume audio, and they are arguably my favorite Apple product ever – I use them daily (alongside my Huawei Freebuds Pro), and as the average Apple user likes to say, they just work.
But it’s now been nearly three years since the release of the first ANC-compatible AirPods Pro, and it looks like it’s time for Apple’s next step into the audio sphere.
After a major 52audio leak of information and images, AirPods Pro 2 are now expected in Q3-Q4 of 2022, and interestingly, they will solve another “cable problem” by switching to USB-C, and thus markingthe beginning of the end of Apple’s beloved Lightning port† Apart from that, they would provide a ton of improvements in quality of life.
So let’s talk about AirPods Pro 2, Cupertino’s Big Switch to USB-C, and of course… iPhone 15, the first iPhone with a USB-C port!
AirPods Pro 2: Apple changes the world through your ears
Note the speaker holes, which should also hide the microphones on the new AirPods Pro 2 case.
Here are the expected ones AirPods Pro 2 upgrades, according to the 52audio leak:
- A new System-in-Package (SiP) for the H1 chip, with support for enhanced adaptive active noise cancellation, EQ, spatial audio and audio sharing
- A new case with USB-C port for faster charging
- Temperature monitoring (not confirmed)
- An improved Find My feature
- Heart rate monitoring
- Hearing aid mode
Of course, what we want from AirPods Pro 2 is a better listening experience, as the overall sound quality and ANC on Apple’s tiny earbuds leave a lot to be desired. Don’t get me wrong – they are perfectly adequate for what they are, but there is room for improvement, and I’m sure Apple recognizes the opportunity for upgrades in terms of audio quality. The good news here is that despite the rumors of a stemless design, AirPods Pro 2 retains the iconic stems that many have come to love. The stems make handling the earbuds safer, but also act as an extension for the microphones, reaching closer to your mouth. They are also pressure sensitive and let you control your audio.
If I have a problem with the AirPods Pro when it comes to the stems, it’s that they don’t have capacitive touch support that lets you adjust the volume by swiping up and down. If you’re an AirPods user, this might be the best feature you’ve ever had, which is why I prefer to use my Huawei FreeBuds Pro instead of my AirPods if I can.
Aside from the audio experience, AirPods Pro 2 get some very special health and accessibility features. In case you haven’t noticed, the new housing has speakers and microphones on the outside.
Apple’s Total USB-C Transition Begins With AirPods Pro 2, iPad 10th Gen, iPhone 15
The new AirPods Pro 2 according to 52audio.
In case you didn’t know, from autumn 2024, all small and medium-sized portable electronic devices, including mobile phones, tablets, headphones, e-readers, handheld game consoles and cameras sold in the EU, will have to come with a USB-C charging port. It’s the law.To make Apple’s cable business even worse, USB-C iPhones and other Apple products could also become mandatory in the US, as (inspired by the EU) the Senate now pushes for the same common charger bill that’s about to go into effect to go across the pond in 2024.
But reading about legislation is one thing and to see some relatively hardcore evidence is another. And that’s exactly what the exclusive 52audio report on the new AirPods 2 Pro gave us – USB-C hopes and dreams that now seem more real than ever!
And if there was a question about what the first new Apple product will be to involuntarily switch to USB-C, and whether the iPhone 15 will get there at all (technically, it’ll be released before 2024, so it doesn’t have to), now it seems it all accurate.
And in case you’re wondering why Apple decided to get started the USB-C transition with this fall’s AirPods Pro 2, it’s probably because the company wants it future proof are best-selling earplugs.
It looks like Tim Cook & Co will release new AirPods Pro every three years (or at least not every year), meaning if AirPods 2 Pro don’t get USB-C now, Apple’s only chance to get AirPods Pro up to speed bring with the USB-C mandate, will be in 2025 when AirPods Pro 3 should come out. So that’s Apple’s way of throwing in the towel. There is no need to fight it anymore. It is set in stone. Cupertino needs to move to USB-C, and they better do that sooner rather than later.
iPhone 15 will almost certainly get USB-C now, but could Apple “go portless”; “what about the planet”; and is USB-C stifling innovation?
So yes, USB-C for AirPods Pro 2 screams “iPhone 15 with USB-C”. It just… makes sense. The new iPad 10th generation and iPhone 15 should be next for the USB-C treatment. But logic aside, reliable insider Ming-Chi Kuo already told us that Apple is testing USB-C for the 2023 iPhone series. Plus, after the EU’s Common Charger Law went into effect and the leaked AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C, it now seems almost unlikely that iPhone 15 would avoid the transition.
What if iPhone 15 is portless?
In case you’re wondering if Apple could go portless and getting around EU rules, the answer is… probably† It doesn’t look like this will be the case though…
And as for Apple’s favorite environmental argument, Tim Cook & Co can’t play this card either. Even if Cupertino’s plan was indeed to make the iPhone portless, it would have created a huge amount of e-waste from all the Lightning cables having to be thrown away.
And if you’re thinking, “Martin, what about the USB-C transition? It’ll create the same e-waste!”, you’re right. However, Apple could be drawing one more of its favorite cards, which is… The dongle card† In this way Cupertino can limit the environmental damage in the short term.
Bloomberg’s trusted tipster, Mark Gurman, already reported on the possibility of a new Lightning to USB-C adapter that would allow people to keep their Lightning cables as long as possible. This isn’t a long-term solution, though, because if the iPhone went portless in the future, the dongles would only add to more e-waste.
As for Apple’s “USB-C mandate will stifle innovation” argument, I’m not sure what to make of it. USB-C is already more advanced than Lightning, and Apple seems to admit that by using the port on its MacBooks and iPads. In the end, it might even turn out that Lightning was holding back the iPhone.
Ultimately, USB-C is the way to go, Apple…
USB-C has been and has been the go-to port for years now, but the EU had to force Apple to adopt it, and frankly I’m glad it’s on its way to finally happening! USB-C on iPhone and other Apple products gives users:
- Faster charging speeds
- Improved data transfer rates
- Better wired audio quality (in combination with suitable passive/active DAC)
- One charger for everything – you could borrow everyone’s charger and charge all your Apple devices
So I’m thrilled that USB-C is coming to AirPods Pro 2 and (hopefully) eventually to the iPhone 15 series. They say that Lightning never strikes the same place twicebut it turns out that USB-C can! Fingers crossed.