Apple intends to offer two different versions of its non-Pro AirPods next year, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman in his weekly “Power On” newsletter. Gurman believes that the upcoming third-generation AirPods, priced at $179, are lacking significant features that would differentiate them from the second-gen AirPods priced at $129. This may lead consumers to choose the cheaper model unless Apple provides a compelling reason to purchase the third-gen AirPods.
To address this issue, Apple plans to release two new non-Pro AirPods models in 2024. Both of these models will feature refreshed earbuds, redesigned charging cases, and a USB-C port. Additionally, one of the new 2024 AirPods will incorporate a feature previously only available in the more expensive AirPods Pro.
For the first time, Apple may offer Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) in the higher-end non-Pro version of the AirPods, providing consumers with an incentive to purchase the higher-priced fourth-generation AirPods. As for the next version of Apple’s premium wireless earbuds, the third-generation AirPods Pro model is expected to be released in 2025.
Another change expected next year is for the over-ear AirPods Max. According to Gurman, Apple plans to deliver the AirPods Max with a USB-C charger replacing the Lightning port, and may add new colors to the lineup.
In addition to these hardware changes, Apple is also planning to add a major health-related feature to the AirPods, allowing them to be used as hearing aids. This software-related upgrade could take place sometime next year, positioning Apple in the middle of a market that generated $5.9 billion in global sales last year.