Apple AirPods leak – but what’s the point?

Will the AirPods be getting a complete overhaul?

Apple AirPods leak - A discussion on the significance of the leaked information about Apple's popular wireless earphones.

You can trust PC GuideOur team of experts use a combination of independent consumer research, in-depth testing where appropriate – which will be flagged as such, and market analysis when recommending products, software and services. Find out how we test here.

Last Updated on

Apple initially received skepticism when it came to the removal of the iPhone earphone jack, but that took a quick turnaround as the wireless AirPods exploded in popularity. Since their release back in 2016, AirPods have become a staple of both the Apple experience and the wider wireless earbud market. Recent leaks have started pointing towards a complete overhaul of the trusty AirPods over the next year or so, but let’s be honest here – what’s the point?

An Apple AirPods leak reported on both the Verge and Bloomberg articles led to comments on a possible “end-to-end overhaul” of its wireless earbuds, rumoring Apple to be launching two sets of fourth-generation AirPods in 2024. Both sets will sit beneath the current AirPods Pro, coming in to replace the second and third-generation models, and at apparently similar price points.

The two products will allegedly have more distinct differences between them, which should encourage users to invest in the higher-priced of the two rather than go for the cheaper, older alternative similar to what happened with the second and third-gen AirPods. It seems that the third-gen replacements will borrow some features from the existing AirPod Pros, such as noise cancellation and an upgraded case.

However, an overhaul wouldn’t be complete without a refreshed design, and Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has quoted the new AirPods to look like “a blend of the third-generation AirPods and the Pro model”. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that these new designs will include the reusable silicone tips of the AirPods Pro – so, prepare yourself for the ear pain and poorer noise isolation associated with the older AirPods if this rumor is anything to go off. Additionally, the unsealed approach can inevitably lead to worse sound quality. In the absence of these fixes, it seems that Apple may, once again, be roping in consumers to spend more money on a product that might improve a little but probably cost a lot more.

All in all, this Apple AirPods leak doesn’t really tell us anything we don’t already know: the AirPods were overdue an upgrade and a move over to the USB-C case, and the phasing out of the second and third-gen AirPods was inevitable at some point. However, it seems that ‘upgrade’ might be the wrong word, with the rumors so far pointing towards a design that just merges some of the features of the existing models.

Even though the AirPods have been one of the most successful ventures for Apple, they can’t afford to coast with the growing market competition from giants such as Google and Samsung. For better or for worse, it seems new AirPods are on the cards. We’ll have to wait and see what Apple confirms before we fully make the judgment on whether the new AirPods will be a relevant upgrade or a pointless plot to phase out older products.

Marla writes across a wide range of topics across PC Guide, including AI, PC hardware, and news on the latest tech releases. She's a passionate writer that's interested in the future of technology.