It looks like AirPods Pro 2 will be coming this year. There have been rumors and counter-rumors (like how the AirPods will charge) and suggestions that the next premium in-ears will have a very different design, even being “stemless” as @LeaksApple Pro claimed.
But now, there’s a new report which reaches a very different conclusion.
Last year, MacRumors revealed findings based on what were claimed to be leaked images of AirPods Pro 2. Apple won’t call them that, by the way, and is more likely to opt for AirPods Pro Second Generation.
These images showed few designs compared to the current, first-gen AirPods Pro. In the intervening months there have been lots of rumors, many pointing to a radically different design without the distinctive stalks that protrude from the ears.
However, now a series of renders by Ian Zelbo, featured by MacRumors, shows a design which is only very slightly different from what’s on the current earbuds.
The new renders show a 3D comparison, done to scale, which shows AirPods Pro looking very similar to the current ones. The only noticeable difference is that a slim, narrow black marking on the earbud is replaced by a shorter, squatter black lozenge.
The detail is important and seems to confirm one new element not on the current AirPods Pro, though it is on the latest third-generation AirPods.
Every model of AirPods and AirPods Pro in-ear buds have had a cool feature since day one: take it out of your ear and playback stops.
The way the AirPods do this is through an infra-red sensor which can spot when the bud is taken out of your ear. However, it’s not flawless in its performance as occasionally the sensor can mistake being in a pocket or bag for being back in your ear and start playing when that’s not what you want.
With AirPods third-generation, Apple switched to a different system, employing skin-detect sensors that know more accurately whether they’re in an ear or not, detecting water content in the wearer’s skin, apparently.
So, the long black detail, which contains an elliptical grille as well as the IR sensor, is replaced in the new renders with a smaller one that has a circular grille in it.
And the point is that almost nothing else in the design has changed. At all.
That will disappoint many who want an all-new look, but it makes sense. Apple rarely changes designs quickly, so a big change on only the second-generation of Pro earbuds—especially something as radical as removing the stem entirely—was always a bit of a surprise, I’d say.
There’s also a change to the design of the case, MacRumors’ earlier alleged pictures suggest. For a start, on the bottom there will be six holes. If that seems curious, reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that the next AirPods Pro case will be able to make a noise so you can find it more easily and these holes seem to fit with that.
AirPods and AirPods Pro are instantly recognizable, so although many will have wanted a completely different design, it’s likely Apple will want to ensure continuity and retain that immediate recognition value with its next-gen product.
The next AirPods Pro are not expected until the fall, so there’s plenty of time for more rumors to leak.