Apple AirPods Pro 2 design surprise revealed in new leak

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It looks like the AirPods Pro 2 are coming this year. There have been rumors and counter-rumors (like how AirPods will charge) and suggestions that the next premium earbuds will have a very different design, even being “stemless” as @LeaksApple Pro claims.

But now there’s a new report that comes to a very different conclusion.

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Last year, MacRumors revealed conclusions based on what would have been leaked images of AirPods Pro 2. Apple won’t call them that, by the way, and is more likely to opt for second-generation AirPods Pro.

These images showed few designs compared to the current first-generation AirPods Pro. In the months since, there have been plenty of rumours, many pointing to a radically different design without the distinctive stems protruding from the ears.

However, now a series of renders by Ian Zelbo, featured by MacRumors, show a design that’s only ever so slightly different from what’s on current headphones.

The new renders show a 3D comparison, done to scale, that shows the AirPods Pro look a lot like the current ones. The only noticeable difference is that a thin, narrow black branding on the earpiece is replaced with a shorter, chunkier black diamond.

The detail is important and seems to confirm a new element that is not on the current AirPods Pro, although it is on the latest third generation AirPods.

Each model of AirPods and AirPods Pro in-ear headphones has had a great feature since day one: take it out of your ear and play stops.

To do this, the AirPods use an infrared sensor that can detect when the bud is removed from your ear. However, it’s not flawless in its performance as sometimes the sensor can confuse being in a pocket or bag to be back in your ear and start playing when it’s not what you want.

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With the third-generation AirPods, Apple moved to a different system, using skin detection sensors that more accurately know whether they’re in an ear or not, apparently detecting the water content of the wearer’s skin.

Thus, the long black detail, which contains an elliptical grid as well as the IR sensor, is replaced in the new renderings by a smaller one which contains a circular grid.

And the fact is that almost nothing else in the design has changed. At all.

This will disappoint many who want a whole new look, but it makes sense. Apple rarely changes designs quickly, so a big change on the second-gen Pro-only headphones, especially something as drastic as the complete removal of the stem, was always a bit of a surprise, I’d say.

There’s also a change to the case design, earlier alleged images from MacRumors suggest. To begin with, at the bottom there will be six holes. If that sounds curious, reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the upcoming AirPods Pro case will be able to make noise so you can find it easier and these holes seem to correspond to that.

The AirPods and AirPods Pro are instantly recognizable, so while many wanted a completely different design, it’s likely that Apple wants to ensure continuity and retain that immediate recognition value with its next-gen product.

The next AirPods Pro aren’t expected until the fall, so there’s plenty of time for more rumors to leak.

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