Apple appears to be well on its way towards conforming to the European Union ruling for USB Type-C to be the sole charging standard across the region. We know that the next iPhone 15 will feature USB-C ports, and now it looks like the AirPods Pro will also follow suit, ditching the Lightning port.
Well-regarded Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo tweeted that the new AirPods with the model number A3048, as well as the AirPods case with the model number A2968 that surfaced last week likely refers to the higher-end, in-ear AirPods Pro with the new port. This is surprising given that the second-generation Pros were only introduced last year, at the same time as the iPhone 14 series. The new devices are expected to ship in the second to third quarter of the year.
Also surprising is the fact that Apple does not currently have plans to add a USB-C port to the second- and third-generation versions of the base AirPods. This could mean one of two things—the company is either reserving the port for the Pro models (which would be unlikely, given that would mean newer versions would run afoul of the new ruling), or it’s working on the fourth generation of its entry-level wireless earbuds.
The fourth-gen models would be the first reworking of the base AirPods since the last models were introduced in 2021. They will likely incorporate some features from the latest AirPods Pro, including a new H2 chip with Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity, swiping controls for volume and possible sound quality and battery life improvements.
They may also be offered with a new AirPods Pro-style MagSafe wireless charging case, featuring a U1 chip for precise locating using the Find My app, compatibility with Apple Watch chargers and a lanyard loop.
The lack of mention of a new AirPods Max is another surprise, as the top-dog over-ear headphones are long overdue for an update, having been revealed back in December 2020. Still, a new version of those should be coming sooner rather than later, adding the H2 and U1 chips and some of the aforementioned upgrades.