Apple will try to better differentiate its AirPods lineup as new models launch over the next couple of years, according to a new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. That will include phasing out both the second-gen and third-gen AirPods when a successor is announced sometime next fall. Gurman claims that the third-gen “regular” AirPods haven’t sold particularly well and partially attributes this to consumers frequently opting for the older, cheaper second-gen pair, which Apple has continued to sell.
To avoid facing that problem again, Apple plans to simultaneously launch two sets of fourth-generation AirPods in 2024. Both sets will sit beneath the AirPods Pro, with pricing remaining similar to where it is today, but the two SKUs will have clearer differences between them. Both new fourth-gen AirPods will reportedly have “a new design that looks like a blend of the third-generation AirPods and the Pro model” with short stems.
The higher-end option of the two will borrow features from the AirPods Pro like noise cancellation and integrated speakers on the charging case for improved Find My support. But curiously, Gurman says that neither is likely to include replaceable silicone ear tips; we’ll probably get the same one-size-fits-most, open-air design that the standard AirPods have always had. That would still give the AirPods Pro a leg up when it comes to noise cancellation performance and overall sound quality.
The next AirPods will continue Apple’s transition to USB-C. Also coming next year, according to Gurman, will be a slight refresh of the AirPods Max featuring a USB-C port and new colors but relatively few other changes. (I’d expect them to support lossless audio when paired with the Vision Pro, at least.) The original AirPods Max haven’t been updated since their introduction in 2020 and have thus been left behind when it comes to newer software features.
All of this will lead up to a redesign of the AirPods Pro coming in 2025, though Bloomberg’s report doesn’t go into details on what Apple’s next flagship buds will look like.