Earlier this week, Apple released the final iOS 16.4 beta to developers and public beta users. Inside the update, Apple added references to new Beats Studio+ earbuds, as well as new AirPods. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the new AirPods referenced in this update are likely the USB-C version of AirPods Pro 2.
AirPods Pro with USB-C
In a post on Twitter today, regarding the references in iOS 16.4, Kuo explained:
I think this is likely the USB-C version of the AirPods Pro 2, with mass shipments expected in 2Q23-3Q23. By the way, Apple currently appears to have no plans for USB-C versions of the AirPods 2 & 3.
The AirPods referenced in iOS 16.4 use model number A3048 and case model number of A2968. In response to Kuo’s tweet, some are questioning why there’s a new model number for the AirPods themselves, alongside the new case model number.
As we’ve covered in-depth, Apple is planning to transition the iPhone 15 lineup to USB-C this fall. In conjunction with this, the company is also likely to transition most — but apparently not all — of its accessories to USB-C as well.
This isn’t the first time Kuo has reported that future versions of AirPods will use USB-C for charging. Last year, Kuo said that AirPods as well as Apple’s other accessories would also switch to USB-C alongside the iPhone. This also includes accessories like the Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Mouse accessories for Mac, and the MagSafe Battery Pack accessory for iPhone.
Apple is adopting USB-C on its products, in part, due to new legislation in the European Union. Under the rules, companies have until December 28, 2024, to comply with the mandate.
The likely outcome here is that AirPods Pro are the first version of AirPods to switch to USB-C, with AirPods 2 and AirPods 3 following at a later date.
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