Kuo: AirPods Pro With USB-C Charging Case to Launch Later This Year
Apple plans to release second-generation AirPods Pro with a USB-C charging case later this year, with mass shipments expected to begin in the second to third quarter, according to information shared today by Apple industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
The second-generation AirPods Pro launched in September 2022 with a Lightning charging case. The updated version of the second-generation AirPods Pro would have a USB-C charging case instead, but it's unclear if any other hardware changes are planned. Kuo believes references to new AirPods discovered in the iOS 16.4 Release Candidate earlier this week are related to the USB-C version of the AirPods Pro.
Around two years after the original AirPods Pro launched, Apple started selling the headphones with a MagSafe-compatible charging case, so there is precedent for a mid-cycle charging case update. Unfortunately, the MagSafe case was not sold on a standalone basis, and it's unclear if the USB-C case will be sold separately.
The current version of the AirPods Pro charging case features a built-in speaker that can play a sound when the case is misplaced, an opening to attach a lanyard, a U1 chip for Find My support, and newly added compatibility with the Apple Watch charger.
All four iPhone 15 models coming later this year are expected to be equipped with a USB-C port, so it makes sense for the AirPods Pro charging case to switch to USB-C as well. Apple already switched the Apple TV's Siri Remote from Lightning to USB-C last year and other accessories like the MagSafe Battery Pack are rumored to follow eventually.
Kuo added that Apple currently has no plans to release USB-C charging cases for the second-generation or third-generation AirPods. This suggests the standard AirPods may not have a USB-C charging case until a fourth-generation pair are released. Apple released the third-generation AirPods in October 2021.
Top Rated Comments
The USB connector at the time lighting was introduced was USB-A, which was also fairly large and somewhat fussy in that it had to be inserted in the correct orientation. USB went on to add "mini" and "micro" connectors, but they were still single-orientation connectors that were prone to wear and damage, and the sheer number of similar, incompatible connectors was confusing. If USB-C existed back then it would have made sense for Apple to adopt it, but I think Apple did well to avoid USB in that era.
The lighting connector is easy to plug in even when you aren't looking at it, and other than occasional debris accumulation in the port the connector has been fairly reliable for a decade or so. USB-C has reached parity with lighting in terms of size, ease of use, and durability, and so I think the time is right for Apple to finally adopt the universal standard.