Apple Prepares Major Shakeup for AirPods Lineup in 2024

After a quiet year for AirPods in 2023, Apple is gearing up for a major refresh in 2024. The biggest change will be a complete overhaul of the entry-level AirPods lineup, with the introduction of AirPods 4 and the discontinuation of both AirPods 2 and AirPods 3.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports that Apple will release two variants of AirPods 4 later this year. These new models are expected to sport a design that combines elements of AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro, including shorter stems but without the replaceable tips found on the Pro model. Apple promises an improved fit for both versions.

The key difference between the two AirPods 4 variants will be noise cancellation. The higher-end model will boast this feature, while the more affordable option will not. Both versions, however, will come with a new charging case that utilizes USB-C for charging, a welcome switch from the current Lightning port.

The premium AirPods 4 case will take Find My integration a step further by incorporating built-in speakers for easier location tracking. Analysts also suggest a potential "AirPods Lite" model priced at $99, but it remains unclear if this is a separate product or another name for the lower-end AirPods 4.

Apple reportedly plans a significant production increase for AirPods 4, with estimates suggesting between 20 and 25 million units manufactured. This points towards the biggest AirPods launch ever for the company. Production is expected to begin in May, with a likely release timeframe alongside the iPhone 16 in the fall.

While AirPods 4 steal the spotlight, updates for AirPods Max and AirPods Pro will be more modest. AirPods Max will see a single change: a switch from Lightning to USB-C charging. No other upgrades are planned for this year's AirPods Max.

AirPods Pro fans will have to wait until 2025 for a refresh. The next iteration is expected to boast a new design, a new chip, and potentially even health-focused features related to hearing.

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