The AirPods Pro 2 could soon get new USB-C version to ease your cable woes

The Apple AirPods Pro 2 headphones on a grey background
The current AirPods Pro 2 earbuds (above) still have Lightning-based charging. (Image credit: Apple)

One charger to rule them all? That's the dream and now a new version of the AirPods Pro 2 could inch us closer to it, according to some leaks that suggest Apple could soon ditch the Lightning port on its flagship in-ear AirPods.

The initial rumor came from Twitter user @aaronp613, who spotted that iOS 16.4 references some new AirPods and an AirPods case. But crucially, one highly respected analyst – none other than Ming-Chi Kuo – quote-retweeted the post, casually surmising that they're "likely the USB-C version of the AirPods Pro 2". 

Any other pearls of wisdom from the noted soothsayer on all things Apple? Actually, yes. Kuo said that "mass shipments" of the alleged USB-C toting AirPods Pro 2 are "expected in 2Q23-3Q23", adding that "Apple currently appears to have no plans for USB-C versions of the AirPods 2 & 3."

If you were planning to buy some AirPods Pro 2 earbuds soon, then, it could be wise to wait – particularly if you like the idea of moving away from Lightning cables and towards an exclusively USB-C life.

Yet one thing doesn't quite add up with the recent AirPods hints in iOS 16.4. The software beta references a new model number for an AirPods case, but also one for an unknown AirPods model (number A3048).

These models could both be for the new AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C connectivity. But according to the leaks, we should find out either way soon enough – even if it might seemingly be a longer wait for USB-C to be added to other Apple headphones.

Opinion: USB-C can't come soon enough

AirPods Pro 2 in use

(Image credit: TechRadar)

So that's us told. And it's not the first time something like this has happened; a few days ago, evidence of a new pair of Beats Studio Buds Plus was also spotted in iOS 16.4 – an iOS update that will also bring five super-useful features to iPhone owners

Apple has clung stubbornly to its proprietary Lightning charger (which first arrived on iPhone handsets in 2012) for over ten years, despite immense pressure from the European Union culminating in the EU finally mandating one charger to rule them all. In other words, iPhones will have to use USB-C by the end of 2024.

But if the predictions within this tweet (and subsequent retweet) do play out, we'll be seeing a USB-C supported AirPods Pro 2 proposition in either the second or third quarter of 2023. And since we're already at the end of March, that could be soon. 

The AirPods Pro 2 wowed us on so many levels – a quick glance of our AirPods Pro 2 review proves as much. And the thing is, USB-C chargers on earbuds is hardly headline-grabbing news – all of the best wireless earbuds are doing it these days, save Apple. 

I've made no bones about wanting Lightning gone from my iPhone in favor of USB-C music. And if the latest iOS 16.4 leaks are to be believed, we may be one step closer to that.

Speaking of leaks, Apple's next AirPods case could be like an Apple Watch if it gets a touch screen like a new patent suggests it will.

Becky Scarrott
Audio Editor

Becky became Audio Editor at TechRadar in 2024, but joined the team in 2022 as Senior Staff Writer, focusing on all things hi-fi. Before this, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.