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AirPods Pro 2: What to expect from Apple’s next ANC earbuds

We’re now well into 2021 and there’s been no shortage of rumours and speculation about the AirPods Pro 2 front. The latest speculation providing a better impression of what we could be expecting.

It looks as if the new AirPods will take a step further with its design, could be available at the end of 2021 at the earliest and are tentatively titled as AirPods Pro Gen 2. They’d be the latest update to the AirPods headphone range with the rumoured AirPods 3 thought to be arriving in 2021, while Apple has already unleashed the AirPods Max to the world.

What else can we expect? Here are all the news, rumours and leaks about the AirPods Pro 2 wireless earbuds.

How much will the AirPods Pro 2 cost?

The current AirPods Pro retail for £249 / $249 and rumours suggest they’ll be no change in terms of pricing for the upcoming earbuds.

LeaksApplePro tweeted they’d have a price $249 (likely £249) and that they wouldn’t be as big an update over the current gen versions. Considering that the Pro are Apple’s premium wireless earbud we don’t expect much change from current prices.

When will the AirPods Pro 2 be released?

Ming-Chi Kuo, the ever-reliable Apple prognosticator, believes the second-gen AirPods Pro will be released in the second half of 2021.

We imagine this would be the earliest the headphones would go on sale, with other speculation indicating they’d go into production in the latter half of 2021, for a Q1 2022 release. In either case that’s still a while off. A Bloomberg report from October 2020 indicated that the AirPods Pro 2 would launch alongside the revamped AirPods 3, which is said to take its design cues from the AirPods Pro line.

However, other sources have mooted an earlier release date. Japanese blog Mac Otakara suggested could go on sale as early as April 2021 alongside an iPhone SE model.

What will the next AirPods Pro look like?

All the rumours so far point to the new AirPods Pro having an improved design over the standard AirPods, and recent leaks suggest they could be the beneficiary of a more radical design.

According to Bloomberg’s sources, the AirPods Pro 2 will drop the stem completely. A design currently being used in tests has a more rounded shape that “fills more of a user’s ear”. It suggests something more like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live.

That contrasts with what Ming-Chi Kuo had to say a couple of months, reporting they’ll look the same, with just the internals set to be updated.

That’s not to say that the stem-less design will be the final one. Integrating ANC, antennas, controls and microphones into a smaller AirPods Pro casing has proved challenging according to the Bloomberg report, so it may turn out that Kuo is right. Again.

The charging case is another feature rumoured to be getting a few changes, though by the sounds of it these changes are minor. Essentially it sounds as if it could taller and thinner than before.

What features will the new AirPods Pro have?

The first-generation AirPods Pro had Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency Mode, IPX4 resistance and support for Qi wireless charging.

We’d expect the Gen 2 Pro to have all the features that have been that the current AirPods range packs, and that includes Spatial Audio and Auto-switching.

Otherwise, according to the tweet from LeaksApplePro, the Gen 2 version will be a modest update: slightly better noise-cancelling, better battery life and ambient light sensors. The latter is feature we’ve heard about before. According to a report by DigiTimes/MacRumours, the light sensors may be able to track heart rate, detect health conditions, motion as well as other physical movements and if true that would help push the AirPods Pro 2 into the realm of the best running headphones.

There’s been plenty more scuttlebutt about Apple’s aspirations with health related functionality. Patently Apple spied a 2017 patent request about a range of biometric features that could be included in future AirPods. This list of features includes a heart-rate sensor, and it’s thought to be arriving in the second-half of 2021. We do wonder if they’ll be crossover with the new features that have come to the Apple Watch Series 6. We wouldn’t put it past Apple…