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AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max: What to expect from Apple in 2024

AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max

Apple is expected make updates to its entire AirPods lineup in 2024. Here's what the rumor mill believes is on the way for AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max.

Just like other products in the Apple catalog, AirPods have been the subject of many rumors and speculation about what will come next. With four levels of AirPods being sold by Apple itself, including two generations of the main AirPods line, there's quite a few models that could well see changes throughout the year.

Here is a compilation of the ongoing rumors surrounding Apple's personal audio accessory range, including some features that could potentially expand the utility of the wearable devices.

AirPods rumors

Apple currently offers two models of AirPods for sale, with the second-generation model acting as the entry-level edition and the third-gen as the mid-range variant. It seems that Apple is intending to keep the two-tier approach for the time being.

In October, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman declared that Apple would discontinue the Gen 2 and Gen 3 AirPods, in favor of replacing them with a pair of fourth-gen models. These new models will apparently be priced similarly to their predecessors, but with an updated design.

This will allegedly combine elements of the third-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro, but with shorter stems.

Apple AirPods 3
Apple AirPods 3

In terms of features, the two models would be differentiated by the more expensive version having active noise cancellation and an enhanced charging case. That case was rumored to include built-in speakers for Find My alerts.

Gurman continued the two-tier claim in December, with $129 and $179 pricing and a similar reiteration of features.

By March, Gurman offered more details, including how the designs would have an improved fit, USB charging cases, and that they would have the codenames B768(E) and B768(M), for "entry" and "mid-tier."

Apple is also apparently keen on it being a major launch for AirPods, with claims of up to 25 million units being produced for a fall release.

A September or October launch does make sense, given Apple's previous AirPods announcement timings. A fall introduction would also be ideal for marketing them, since AirPods are a natural accessory to iPhones, which also get launched during the fall.

There have been other rumors involving more sensors for health tracking, such as measuring body temperatures via the ear canal. However, such changes to the lineup may take a while longer to actually arrive.

AirPods Pro rumors

While there is new hardware expected for the AirPods, the same cannot be said about the AirPods Pro.

Current rumors have said that there are plans to revamp the AirPods Pro with a new chip and design. However, they may not necessarily arrive until 2025.

That's not to say that the AirPods Pro won't enjoy changes in 2024.

AirPods Pro 2
AirPods Pro 2

In March, a rumor spread that Apple will be introducing a new hearing aid mode to iOS 18. While details are light, it's evident that the expected feature will be intended to improve audio for the hard of hearing.

Currently, AirPods Pro benefit from Conversation Boost, which improves audio quality for conversations right in front of the user. Meanwhile Listen Live treats an iPhone as a directional microphone that feeds audio to work AirPods.

The rumor does have some more merit thanks to a 2022 study, which determined that AirPods Pro were roughly on par with prescription hearing aids, though not thought to be able to replace the medical-grade devices in every situation.

AirPods Max rumors

After being released in 2020, Apple's AirPods Max haven't received as much attention from the company as its much smaller stablemates in terms of updates. Even so, 2024 may well be the year that the situation changes.

Gurman's October claims included one about Apple releasing an update to the AirPods Max sometime in 2024. Changes would be minimal, though, with new colors and a move to USB-C expected with no other significant upgrades.

His December newsletter reiterated the rumor, but didn't expand on them.

AirPods Max
AirPods Max

In February, serial leaker Instant Digital posted to Weibo that a new AirPods Max "will definitely come out this year." The leaker also mentioned that changes would be sparse, with the addition of USB-C being the high-point.

Instant Digital also suspects the chip inside could still be the H1, with the AirPods Max therefore not supporting Adaptive Audio. This is a feature that uses both Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency to intelligently mix audio on behalf of the user depending on their environmental situation.

This may not necessarily be the most expansive upgrade Apple could make, but given that AirPods Max are extremely high-end headphones to start with, maybe adding USB-C is all they needed.