What to expect from AirPods and AirPods Max in 2024


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

In an effort to boost sales and clarify offerings, Apple will revamp its AirPods lineup in 2024, reports have indicated — but that won’t include updates for every product.

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. And as for what comes after AirPods Pro 2, we’ll have to wait until early 2025, most likely.

2 versions 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 Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman. This is in part to address the past year’s weaker sales following a pandemic boom. But when in 2024 this will happen is still an open question.

In terms of upcoming wearables, 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.

AirPods 4: Concurrent sales of AirPods 2 and 3 caused confusion

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 as the second generation of the premium offering and due for a later update.

But the more-expensive of the two version of AirPods 4 may look like a cross between AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2, with short stems, Bloomberg said.

The new fourth-generation AirPods models will see design updates and revamped cases with USB-C charging (and possibly a speaker in the higher-end one for FindMy alerts). And, most notably, the top AirPods 4 model will get active noise cancellation (ANC), bringing that feature to a lower price point than the currently available AirPods Pro 2 with ANC.

Cosmetic updates to AirPods Max

And that leaves AirPods Max, Cupertino’s expensive over-ear ANC headphones, which list for $549 but are sometimes on sale.

“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 new AirPods 4 versions.

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, even as Apple vies with numerous other earbuds makers to gain headway.

Not so fast on the next AirPods Pro

And what about the next AirPods Pro? Well, AirPods Pro 2 only came out in September 2022, so Bloomberg looks to 2025 for the next ones, including some possible new functionality:

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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