AirPods 4 could deliver active noise cancellation


Apple needs to take the frustration out of AirPods firmware updates
With ANC, AirPods 4 might be a significant jump up from its predecessor.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

AirPods 4 will be the first in Apple’s budget line of wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation when they launch in 2024, according to high-profile tipster. And there’ll be other improvements, too.

In addition, a new version of AirPods Max over-the-ears headphones are also supposedly on the docket for 2024.

Big changes coming to Apple AirPods lineup in 2024

Apple made wireless earbuds a popular, mainstream product with the original AirPods back in 2016, and Cupertino continues to lead the market to this day. It accounts for a whopping 31% of the world market – three times the market share of its closest competitor. But it won’t stay on top without new models.

AirPods 2 and AirPods 3 will get the axe in 2024 to be replaced with a fourth generation that will come in two versions, according to an unconfirmed report from Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman. One AirPods 4 model will offer ANC and have a charging case that supports the Find My app. A cheaper version will not have either feature.

But both will supposedly get a new design, just probably not one that adds removable silicone ear tips — which will surely limit the effectiveness of ANC. And their charging case will use USB-C in place of the current Lightning port.

Pricing for the higher- and lower-end new versions will allegedly cost about the same as AirPods 2 ($129) or AirPods 3 ($179).

With ANC added, the higher-end AirPods 4 will be tougher competition for AirPods Pro 2 ($249), but an update for that is also coming. Not soon, though.

“The AirPods Pro, meanwhile, are expected to get a new design and chip in 2025, and the company is working on health features for that device tied to hearing,” Gurman said Wednesday.

Rumors of health features coming to Apple’s wireless earbuds have been around for years.

And a new AirPods Max, too

AirPods Max are supposedly not getting overlooked. The Bloomberg tipster says the second-generation model will offer new color options and USB-C, but not much else is expected to change. The modest revamp is allegedly coming near the end of 2024.

No AirPods are expected to be announced at Apple’s Scary Fast product event on October 30.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.