Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Phil Nickinson
Section Editor, Audio/Video
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
Amazon’s new $50 Echo Buds take aim at Apple’s AirPods
Amazon's new Echo Buds for 2023.

Amazon is back with a new set of Echo Buds. Though they bear the same name as the first- and second-gen Echo Buds, these new Echo Buds offer an entirely different, semi-in-ear, stem-based design that has more in common with Apple's second-gen AirPods than it does with Amazon's previous designs. The latest Echo Buds are also surprisingly affordable at just $50.

While the decision to keep the name the same may be confusing, the decision to create a set of wireless earbuds with a semi-in-ear shape makes a lot of sense. Fully in-ear buds like the second-gen Echo Buds, the AirPods Pro, and Sony's WF-1000XM4, provide distinct advantages for sound quality and they also set the stage for active noise canceling (ANC). However, lots of people find these earbuds uncomfortable to wear. The silicone tips increase the sensation of having an object wedged in your ear, and some folks complain of a sucking feeling, especially when ANC is turned on.

Read more
This touchscreen AirPods case is the worst thing I’ve seen all week
Apple AirPods Pro 2 sitting beside iPhone 14 and charging case.

If you know me even the slightest bit, you’ll know that I’m a big Apple fan. I have an iPad, Apple Watch, and multiple Macs. And even though I’ve been diving into the world of Android phones, my primary device is still an iPhone 14 Pro. I also always have my AirPods Pro 2 with me, whether that’s at home or when I’m out at Disney parks — they're always on me in some way or another.

But as much as I like Apple, there are certainly some things that will make me scratch my head and go “Huh?” The latest one is what appears to be a new patent held by Apple that could lead to an AirPods case with an integrated interactive touchscreen.
The patent does what now?

Read more
AirPods Pro 2 may finally offer this charging feature
Apple AirPods Pro 2 inside their charging case.

Continuing with its move toward USB-C, Apple looks set to incorporate the connector into the charging case for its AirPods Pro earbuds, according to respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

The second generation of Apple's top-of-the-line earbuds, which the tech giant released in September last year, features a Lightning charging case. But Kuo, who has called it right in the past when it comes to Apple’s plans, said in a recent tweet that Apple is “likely” to start selling a USB-C charging case with Apple’s premium buds, adding that it could start shipping as early as the second quarter of this year.

Read more