More AirPods are set to get USB-C – but you may have to wait until next year

apple airpods max held in a hand, showing the Lightning port
(Image credit: TechRadar)

It's not long until the big Apple September event 2023 gets underway, and we're starting to hear even more rumors about the upcoming AirPods unveiling. The iPhone maker has been tipped to launch AirPods with a USB-C charging case for months now, and the latest claim was that initially this change would only come to AirPods Pro and wouldn't have any other hardware changes. Obviously, we didn't expect this to be the case forever, and now there are new rumors about when this upgrade will roll out to the full lineup.

In Mark Gurman's latest Power On newsletter, Bloomberg's chief technology correspondent says that the company may transition all of the best AirPods to USB-C during 2024. This is likely to mean that, unlike the AirPods Pro 2 getting a USB-C port and no other changes, the AirPods 3rd Gen and AirPods Max will probably be replaced by all-new models along with the USB-C upgrade. We've been highly anticipating AirPods Max 2 in particular for a while.

By all accounts, AirPods Pro are Apple's most popular headphones by a long way, though AirPods Max seem to be getting more and more popular just based on looking at the heads of commuters in big cities. In any case, it's clear that AirPods Pro 2 are able to be updated to the new port without any other major changes needed, but AirPods 3rd Gen don't look like great value any more compared to the likes of the much cheaper Sony WF-C700N. Also, while the AirPods Max sound fantastic, it feels weird that they lack many of AirPods Pro 2's features (see below) despite being Apple's most expensive headphones.

What other AirPods updates can we expect?  

While there won't be any other hardware changes to the AirPods lineup at the Apple event outside of the charging port on AirPods Pro 2, we're expecting a major software upgrade to go ahead as soon as iOS 17 is released, which based on Apple's past schedule will be sometime in September 2023. 

The update will see six new features added to the AirPods Pro 2, including Adaptive Audio for automated ANC and Transparency modes, Conversation Awareness to cut down on background noises, Personalized Volume, added Mute controls, automatic device switching and Dark Mode.     

Apple is also reportedly working on a new hearing test feature for the AirPods Pro and considering adding in temperature sensors to help spot early signs of sickness, based on patent filings. These don't look likely to appear any time soon – and the temperature sensor would require new hardware, so would be in a future version if it ever happens – but it's clear that Apple isn't done with ideas for AirPods.

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Amelia Schwanke
Senior Editor UK, Home Entertainment

Amelia became the Senior Editor for Home Entertainment at TechRadar in the UK in April 2023. With a background of more than eight years in tech and finance publishing, she's now leading our coverage to bring you a fresh perspective on everything to do with TV and audio. When she's not tinkering with the latest gadgets and gizmos in the ever-evolving world of home entertainment, you’ll find her watching movies, taking pictures and travelling.