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A new USB-C case may be in AirPods Pro’s future

The Lightning connection on the AirPods Pro case.
The Lightning connection on AirPods Pro may be a thing of the past if Apple finally makes the switch to USB-C. Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

One of the worst-kept secrets in Cupertino, California (if anyone’s actually trying to keep it, anyway) is that the iPhone 15 is going to switch to USB-C from Apple’s proprietary Lightning connection when it’s announced later this year. That’s likely due in no small part due to the European Union, and generally speaking, it’s a good thing because proprietary cables are bad for you, even if they’re great for Apple. (And arguably better for the product.)

That would leave AirPods as the lone holdout for Lightning. And by “lone,” we really mean all of the current AirPods. That’s AirPods Pro, the second- and third-generation AirPods, and AirPods Max. They all still using Lightning (and also could have a wireless charging case).

But it looks like the AirPods’ transition to USB-C may finally start this year with at least a new case for the AirPods Pro, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who writes as much in his weekly newsletter, Power On. Apple, of course, hasn’t announced anything yet, and Gurman’s report is unsourced. But it’s a very obvious shift, and Gurman’s report leaves plenty of questions. It points toward a new charging case for AirPods Pro and cautions against the AirPods Pro 3 (which Apple probably will just call “AirPods Pro 3rd Generation”) being announced at the same time as the iPhone 15.

The second-generation AirPods Pro were released in September 2022, so it’s probably too early for completely new hardware. But you could see Apple saying that new sales will include a case that uses USB-C instead of Lightning. Whether it would offer up that case a la carte — or if it’d even be worth “upgrading” — remains to be seen. The same goes, too, for whether the OG AirPods would be available with new USB-C cases.

Separately, Gurman also says “There’s also engineering work being done on adding sensors to the AirPods so they can determine body temperature via a wearer’s ear canal.” That would require new hardware, of course, so don’t look for that anytime soon. What may happen, though, is “a new hearing test feature that will play different tones and sounds to allow the AirPods to determine how well a person can hear.” That’s more in the vein of how an Apple Watch can help alert to possible heart problems, though hearing loss probably isn’t the sort of thing you’d need to keep a fairly constant watch over.

In any case, we’re still a few months away from any announcements. So stay tuned.

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Phil Nickinson
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
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