AirPods Pro 2 may launch this year without a key feature

the apple airpods pro with their charging case
(Image credit: TechRadar / IM_VISUALS)

Apple's AirPods Pro 2 wireless earbuds may be coming this year after all, but it's not all good news, as the long-awaited buds could be launching without a much-requested charging change.

Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reports that he's expecting mass production of the AirPods Pro 2 to begin in the latter half of 2022, which will hopefully mean a launch before Christmas. Unfortunately, Kuo also notes that Apple is sticking to its guns with a Lightning port on the charging case, as opposed to the much-requested USB-C port (thanks, 9To5Mac).

If Kuo is correct, it would mean that Apple is perhaps still reluctant to let go of its bespoke charging method in favor of a more popular standard in USB-C. Naturally, as Apple hasn't announced anything in regards to the AirPods Pro 2, we suggest taking Kuo's comments with a pinch of salt. 

However, the Apple analyst has proven to be an accurate source of Apple product details in the past. For example, Kuo correctly predicted that the iPhone 12 wouldn't feature a 120Hz display. As such, it wouldn't surprise us at all if he turns out to be correct on Apple's continued reluctance to switch over to a USB-C port for charging.

That being said, while Apple might be reluctant to ditch Lightning, other recent reports suggest the wireless earbuds could push the boat out in other ways. For instance, a patent suggests the AirPods Pro 2 could support a proprietary wireless streaming tech that'll help bring lossless audio to the buds.

Ride the Lightning

Apple's bespoke Lightning cable has its benefits in that it allows for reliable fast charging of Apple devices, like the iPhone 13 and the first iteration of the AirPods Pro – USB-C cables aren't all the same, and there's no way to tell the difference between them, so you can get inconsistent results. 

But while it might make sense for the tech giant to switch to USB-C ports as a matter of convenience, it's not hard to see why it could remain staunchly attached to its own charging solution. 

Apple products requiring a Lightning cable for charging means the company has yet another way of keeping its customers tied to the Apple ecosystem. The purchase of Lightning cables means that Apple has a sizeable source of accessory revenue, since it licenses out 'official' accessories.

By comparison, USB-C is a far more accessible standard, and chances are you have at least one USB-C cable lying around the house. USB-C ports are, more often the not, found on Android-powered phones and devices, as well as handheld gaming consoles like the Nintendo Switch.

It's not all bad news, though, as another recent Kuo report suggests that Apple may finally ditch Lightning after the iPhone 14's launch, meaning the company's next flagship phone could be the last to require Apple's bespoke charging tech. We wish that change could come sooner rather than later, for convenience's sake, but there's at least a glimmer of hope on the horizon for Apple customers who'd prefer the brand to switch to USB-C.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.