Two New Features Likely Coming to the Next-Gen AirPods Pro
With new AirPods Pro rumored for 2022, it's highly likely that the recently launched third-generation AirPods give us a good idea about two new features coming to the next-generation AirPods Pro.
Apple recently launched the third-generation AirPods, which feature improved sound quality, a new design with shorter stems, force sensor controls, spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, Adaptive EQ, Find My support, and more. These features debuted with the AirPods Pro, but Apple has now brought the standard AirPods up to spec with its "Pro" sibling, with the exception of silicone in-ear tips and Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). That being said, the new standard AirPods offer some features that have yet to come to the AirPods Pro.
IPX4 Water-Resistant MagSafe Charging Case
The MagSafe Charging Case for the third-generation AirPods features sweat and water resistance, making the standard AirPods the first to feature an IPX4-rated charging case. Apple promoted the sweat and water resistance of the third-generation AirPods with the device's announcement, but the IPX4 rating applies to both the earbuds and the charging case.
The 2019 AirPods Pro were the first AirPods to offer sweat and water resistance, but the feature only applies to the earbuds themselves, with the charging case featuring no accredited sweat or water resistance rating.
The IPX4 rating means that AirPods have ingress protection to withstand dripping, spraying, or splashes of water. It also means that AirPods cannot withstand water jets (IPX5) or water immersion (IPX7). The "X" part of the rating explains that the AirPods have no form of ingress protection against solids or dust.
The AirPods Pro now ship with an updated Charging Case that adds MagSafe, but unlike the third-generation AirPods, the new case is not officially rated for any kind of ingress protection. Apple confirms on its latest AirPods Pro specs page that "The Wireless Charging Case and MagSafe Charging Case for AirPods Pro are not sweat and water resistant."
Sweat and water resistance is now an area where the AirPods surpass the AirPods Pro, making it highly likely that the next-generation "Pro" earbuds will also be getting an IPX4-rated charging case.
The water-resistant charging case is not the only new feature exclusive to the third-generation AirPods; the earbuds also feature an all-new skin-detect sensor.
Instead of skin-detect sensors in each earbud, the current AirPods Pro use dual optical sensors on each earbud to detect if they are in a user's ear. While they effectively perform the same function, the optical sensors can simply tell when they are covered up, rather than specifically against skin. If you put an AirPods Pro earbud in a pocket or on a surface, for example, it could accidentally resume playback.
This means that the next-generation AirPods Pro may have a single skin-detect sensor on each earbud rather than two optical sensors, resulting in more accurate skin detection and potentially better responsiveness when putting the earbuds in or taking them out.
There have been no clear rumors to suggest that the next-generation AirPods Pro will feature the new skin-detect sensor and a sweat and water-resistant MagSafe Charging Case, but it seems highly likely that Apple will bring the higher-end AirPods Pro to parity with the AirPods 3.
The second-generation AirPods Pro could feature a more compact design and a new wireless chip. According to Bloomberg, Apple is looking to make the AirPods Pro smaller by eliminating the short stem that sticks out from the bottom. Apple is said to be testing a "more rounded shape that fills more of a user's ear," which would be similar to designs from Amazon and Google.