The AirPods Pro are among the most popular noise-canceling wireless earbuds on the planet, and they're a firm favorite here at TechRadar. However, if the latest rumors are to be believed, Apple is planning to retire them in the next few months.
That's according to respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who claimed in a tweet (opens in new tab) that Apple is planning to kill off the AirPods Pro to make way for the next-generation: the long-awaited AirPods Pro 2, which Kuo says will launch in the second quarter of 2022.
That means we could see the next generation of Apple wireless earbuds by June.
AirPods 3 orders for 2-3Q22 have been cut by 30%+. Due to the failed product segmentation strategy, demand for AirPods 3 is significantly weaker than for AirPods 2. AirPods Pro may get discontinued after Apple launches AirPods Pro 2 in 2H22 to avoid repeating the same mistake.April 5, 2022
The decision to cull the two-and-a-half year-old true wireless earbuds is down to the disappointing sales of the AirPods 3, according to Kuo. Apple has apparently attributed this to its decision to keep their predecessors, the AirPods 2, on sale when the third-gen AirPods launched in 2021.
The AirPods 2 were also given a rather attractive price cut when the AirPods 3 were announced - and that might be why demand for the newer earbuds has been less fervent than Apple expected. Kuo says that, as a result, Apple reducing is its third-generation AirPods orders from suppliers by at least 30% in the second to third quarter of this year.
Weaker than expected sales must have been discouraging for Apple. The AirPods 3 are, by nearly every metric, a better pair of true wireless earbuds than their predecessors, offering improved sound quality, support for Spatial Audio, and better integration with the brand's wider network.
Seemingly, that wasn't enough to encourage the kind of sales Apple enjoyed with the AirPods 2 - and with lots of true wireless earbuds to choose from these days, this could be a sign that the brand's domination of the market is waning.
Bad news for money-savers
Kuo's claims mean that anyone who was hoping the AirPods Pro would be given a discount when the AirPods Pro 2 are released could be disappointed.
That's a shame, because the original AirPods Pro are still a great pair of in-ear headphones, even if they are nearly three years old now - and they still have a spot on our list of the best noise-cancelling earbuds.
Saying that, you'll probably be able to buy the AirPods Pro for some time after the release of their successors - third-party retailers will have stock to get rid of, and that means we could be in for some really impressive AirPods deals over Prime Day and Black Friday later this year.
If some of the AirPods Pro 2 rumors we've heard are to be believed, you might not want to stick with the original earbuds anyway. It's been claimed that the second-gen buds will come with improved active noise cancellation, support for ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec), fitness tracking features, futuristic gesture controls and security features, and a charging case with 'Find My' support.
They might look very different to the AirPods Pro you're familiar with, too. A 2020 Bloomberg report (opens in new tab) claimed that the next AirPods Pro would get a design overhaul last year, eliminating the ear stems for a "more rounded shape that fills more of a user's ear".
Of course, this new design didn't materialize in 2021, but it's possible that Bloomberg simply preempted the release date - and that means the old AirPods Pro could look positively dated by the time the AirPods Pro 2 have been on the market for a few months.
It's important to note that there's no guarantee the AirPods Pro 2 will launch in Q2 of this year - but, with WWDC 2022 confirmed to be taking place on June 6, it feels like the time is ripe for a big announcement from Apple.