Apple AirPods lineup tipped to get a huge overhaul – here’s what’s coming

AirPods Max in green on green background
(Image credit: Future)

These days, it’s almost impossible to walk down the street without seeing someone wearing a pair of Apple’s AirPods. The AirPods Pro 2 are some of the best earbuds you can buy, but the line-up could get even better next year.

According to Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, Apple is planning an “end-to-end overhaul” of the entire AirPods lineup, with every model set to be updated and refreshed. It could prove to be a major boost to the devices, some of which haven’t been tweaked in years.

Starting with the entry-level AirPods 2nd Gen, Gurman says these are due for a remake in 2024, while the AirPods Pro will be upgraded the year after. In both cases, Apple is working on the devices’ “earbud design, the look of the cases and audio quality,” Gurman believes.

Let’s not forget the AirPods Max. These over-ear headphones will also see a notable redesign in 2024, which will include a USB-C port and new colors. They’ve not been touched since 2020, so are long overdue a shakeup.

Improvements across the board

the apple airpods 3 next to their wireless charging case

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Gurman’s report indicates that the entry-level AirPods will receive the most significant overhaul. Right now, Apple sells the second-generation AirPods for $129 and the AirPods 3 for $169. That could soon change, though. According to Gurman, both versions are heading for the chopping block and will be replaced by two fourth-generation models that offer stronger differentiation.

This new AirPods generation will look like a blend of the third-generation AirPods and the current AirPods Pro, meaning they’ll have short stems and an improved fit (but probably not replaceable tips) as part of their design. As well as that, expect the higher-end fourth-generation model to come with noise cancellation and an updated charging case with a speaker for Find My alerts.

The 2025 refresh of the AirPods Pro, meanwhile, will bring in a new design and internal chip, and Apple is developing health features that are tied to a user’s hearing, Gurman says. 2025 does make sense for AirPods Pro 3 – the first version launched in 2019, and the second in 2022, so a three-year cycle fits.

With so much planned for the next couple of years, it might be worth holding off buying a new pair of non-Pro AirPods, if you can wait. For the price, they're very much in need of improvements that these refreshes will hopefully bring – though with a two-year wait until new AirPods Pro, we'd say you're free to buy those now if you see them among the best AirPods Black Friday deals, if you're in the mood.

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Alex Blake
Freelance Contributor

Alex Blake has been fooling around with computers since the early 1990s, and since that time he's learned a thing or two about tech. No more than two things, though. That's all his brain can hold. As well as TechRadar, Alex writes for iMore, Digital Trends and Creative Bloq, among others. He was previously commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine. That means he mostly covers the world of Apple and its latest products, but also Windows, computer peripherals, mobile apps, and much more beyond. When not writing, you can find him hiking the English countryside and gaming on his PC.