Apple readies AirPods 4 with noise cancellation, plans AirPods Max update


AirPods 4 are coming in 2024
Expect to see two versions of AirPods 4 -- including one with noise canceling -- in 2024.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple will revamp its AirPods lineup in 2024 in an effort to boost sales and clarify offerings, a new report indicates.

AirPods 4 should arrive next year, with two versions replacing current lower-priced earbuds models. And AirPods Max will receive some long-awaited updates, although the pricey over-ear headphones won’t get a major revamp.

Two version of AirPods 4 and updated AirPods Max coming in 2024

The AirPods family of earbuds and headphones will get some of its biggest updates ever in 2024, according to the  Power On newsletter by Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman. This is in part to address the past year’s weaker sales following a pandemic boom. When in 2024 this will happen is still an open question.

While the Vision Pro mixed-reality headset will headline 2024 as a major new technology from Apple, and new health features in Apple Watch will be significant, the lower end of the AirPods lineup should see big changes, too.

Confusion over lower-end AirPods models

When Apple released AirPods 3 in 2021, the company left 2019’s AirPods 2 in the lineup at a lower price point. That probably caused some confusion, and many consumers skipped the $179 AirPods 3 and went for the cheaper $129 AirPods 2, either simply to save money or because the feature set was not different enough.

Apple’s fix for 2024 will replace both AirPods 2 and 3 with two versions of AirPods 4, as Bloomberg previously predicted. Note that the new AirPods 4 buds are not to be confused with AirPods Pro 2, still relatively new and due for a later update.

The new fourth-generation models will see design updates and revamped cases with USB-C charging. And, most notably, the top AirPods 4 model will get active noise cancellation, bringing that feature to a lower price point than AirPods Pro 2 with ANC.

Changes to AirPods Max

And that leaves AirPods Max, Cupertino’s expensive over-ear headphones.

“The cans don’t sell well enough for the company to invest in entirely new hardware or software features, but Apple is planning a model that trades in the Lightning charger for USB-C and potentially adds new colors,” Gurman wrote. They’re likely to come out alongside AirPods 4.

After that, there is still one more factor that could come into play in 2024, and that’s hearing-aid functionality. It could be big as a possible disruptor to a multibillion-dollar industry.

AirPods Pro updates a bit further out

And what about the next AirPods Pro? Bloomberg looks to 2025:

The AirPods momentum could continue in 2025, with the company planning an update to the AirPods Pro. The design of that model hasn’t been finalized, but Apple is focusing on comfort. Other new Pro features, such as body-temperature and health tracking, remain in early development.


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