New AirPods 2023: Rumors, Release Dates, and Features
Here’s what to expect with respect to Apple’s new AirPods models in 2023 and beyond…
- AirPods Lite: Apple is rumored to be developing a more affordable variant of AirPods, possibly named AirPods Lite or AirPods SE. These earbuds could be priced around $99, targeting the lower end of the market. However, the release date remains uncertain, with speculations pointing towards a launch as late as 2024 or 2025.
- Adaptive Audio and Conversation Awareness: Apple announced new software features for the AirPods at WWDC 2023. Adaptive Audio intelligently blends noise cancellation and transparency passthrough based on the user’s surroundings. Conversation Awareness automatically activates transparency mode and lowers music volume when speech is detected. These features are expected to roll out this fall with the release of iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and tvOS 17.
- Updates to AirPods Max and AirPods Pro: Both the AirPods Max and AirPods Pro are due for updates. The AirPods Max is expected to receive an update to support Apple’s hi-res lossless audio. The AirPods Pro might see a new version with a USB-C port on the charging case.
- USB-C Charging Case: A major change that could be coming to the AirPods is a switch from Lightning to USB-C for the charging case. This aligns with Apple’s broader shift towards USB-C across its product range. A new reference to a case model number in the latest iOS beta software suggests that this change might be imminent.
Apple’s AirPods have been a game-changer in the wireless earbuds market since their launch in 2016. With each new iteration, Apple has introduced innovative features that have kept consumers eagerly awaiting the next release. As we move further into 2023, rumors are swirling about what we can expect from the new AirPods 2023.
AirPods Lite: A Budget-Friendly Option?
One of the most exciting rumors is the potential release of a new, more affordable AirPods variant, tentatively dubbed the AirPods Lite or AirPods SE. This could be a huge move for Apple, further cementing its dominance of the headphone market.
According to Macworld, these budget-friendly earbuds could be priced around $99, allowing Apple to compete at the lower end of the market. However, the release date for these AirPods Lite remains uncertain, with some speculating a launch as late as 2024 or 2025.
You can, of course, get cheap AirPods nowadays — both standard and AirPods Pro models. I own a pair of AirPods Pro and I only paid $100 for them because I bought them refurbished. You can also get free AirPods bundled with some iPhone 14 deals too, so that’s two potential ways of getting on the AirPods train for less.
Adaptive Audio and Conversation Awareness
The Verge reported on Apple’s announcement at WWDC 2023 about new software features for the AirPods. The most notable of these is Adaptive Audio, which intelligently blends noise cancellation and transparency passthrough based on your surroundings.
Another feature, Conversation Awareness, automatically activates transparency mode and lowers the volume of music when the AirPods detect speech. These updates are expected to roll out this fall with the release of iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and tvOS 17.
AirPods Max 2 and AirPods Pro 3
While the AirPods Max and AirPods Pro are due for updates, it’s unclear when these will happen. The AirPods Max, in particular, are expected to receive an update to support Apple’s hi-res lossless audio. Meanwhile, the AirPods Pro could see a new version with a USB-C port on the charging case, according to Macworld.
Check out our full AirPods Max review to see if they live up to the hype (and the asking price).
USB-C Charging Case
A significant change that could be coming to the AirPods is a switch from Lightning to USB-C for the charging case. This change aligns with Apple’s broader shift towards USB-C across its product range. A new reference to a case model number in the latest iOS beta software suggests that this change might be imminent, as reported by Forbes.
How will USB Type C benefit AirPods users? There’s a range of reasons why USB C is preferable to Apple’s long-standing proprietary Lightning port.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the similarities and benefits that USB C has over Apple’s Lightning standard:
- Reversibility: Both USB-C and Lightning cables are reversible, meaning they can be inserted in either orientation, which improves user convenience.
- Speed: USB-C supports USB 3.1 which has a data transfer rate of up to 10 Gbps, while Lightning cables, in theory, support USB 2.0 with a data transfer rate of up to 480 Mbps. However, the actual speed for both will depend on the device and the specific implementation.
- Power Delivery: USB-C supports USB Power Delivery (USB-PD), which can deliver up to 100W of power, allowing it to charge larger devices like laptops. Lightning cables can also deliver power, but they are typically used for smaller devices like iPhones and AirPods, and their power delivery capabilities are lower.
- Compatibility: USB-C is becoming a standard for many devices, including Android phones, laptops, and tablets. This means that if your AirPods used USB-C, you could potentially use the same cable to charge multiple devices.
- Durability: Both connectors are designed to be robust, but some users find that Lightning cables can be more prone to wear and tear.
- Future-proofing: As USB-C is being adopted by more and more manufacturers, it’s more future-proof than Lightning.
While these rumors give us a glimpse into what we might expect from the new AirPods 2023, it’s important to remember that nothing is confirmed until Apple makes an official announcement.
Whether it’s the introduction of budget-friendly AirPods Lite, the rollout of new software features, or the switch to USB-C charging cases, it’s clear there’s a lot of potential updates and action in store for us inside the next 12 months.
The only real question is whether we’ll see any new AirPods this year; it is possible that Apple will sandbag the launches of at least some of the new products until 2024.
Stay tuned for more updates and rumors about the new AirPods 2023 as they happen. And be sure to check out our AirPods Buyer’s Guide too, it covers literally everything you need to know about AirPods.