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AirPods Pro

Lower-cost AirPods expected to debut later this year

According to a supply chain analyst, we’ll see the release of “lower-cost” AirPods before the end of the year. Bloomberg has previously reported that Apple was planning two AirPods updates in 2024, including an entry-level model, so the story matches up.

What that means in reality is a little more complicated. Apple currently sells four different models of the ultra-popular earphones: 2nd- and 3rd-gen AirPods, 2nd-gen AirPods Pro, and 1st-gen AirPods Max. It sounds like two of those products are likely to be upgraded soon, although if Apple really wants to compete with the countless lower-cost alternatives that exist, it might be necessary to release a stripped backĀ AirPods Air or similar to the mix.

Apple isn’t known for chasing the low-end, though, and it would have to pitch them well to beat the 2nd-gen AirPods that seem to be constantly on sale for under $100. It’s unclear exactly which models Apple is intending to change, and what new features (or removed ones, to save money) we might see.

Most likely in my opinion is that we see 4th-gen AirPods released at a slightly lower price point than the current 3rd-gen model (say, $149 instead of $169) while the Pro and Max models get a price bump to compensate. Apple has been treading a similar line with its other products for a while now, trying to further differentiate its top-end Pro models from its mid-range standard offerings. Cutting the base price while reserving the best features for something much pricier would be the obvious Apple move.

It’s also likely that each model that hasn’t already made the change will move over from Lightning to USB-C charging.

Whatever happens, if you’re thinking of upgrading it might be worth hanging on until later this year. That way you’ll either get a new and improved model, or something older at a heavy discount.