A new AirPods Pro case is coming because Apple loves USB-C now

With just eight days to go until Apple’s “Wonderlust” press event, where the iPhone 15 is virtually certain to be announced, pundits remain unsure of the other products that will debut alongside it. One strong possibility, based on a new report, is an updated version of the AirPods Pro. That’s fair earlier than we’d normally expect, coming just one year after the 2nd-gen edition.

Before you get too excited, it’s worth noting that the source—Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, writing in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter—doesn’t expect the new AirPods Pro to contain any noteworthy changes from the previous models. With one exception: their case will feature a USB-C charging port instead of Lightning.

Gurman doesn’t say whether the 3rd-gen AirPods or AirPods Max will get a USB-C upgrade at the same time. Apple previously launched a MagSafe case for the AirPods Pro at the iPhone 13 event with no other new features. Apple updated the AirPods Pro case alongside with 2nd-gen model in September 2022 with a new speaker and lanyard loop.

Apple generally prefers to use proprietary charging standards where possible, because this gives the company greater control over tech specs and design and the potential for passive revenue via licensed third-party accessories. But as Gurman observes elsewhere in the newsletter, Apple is in an unusual and rather awkward position this fall, having been obliged by political pressure to do something it has long refused to do: namely, switch from Lightning to USB-C on the iPhone. And for PR reasons it will now want to give the impression that it is fully committed to the change and that (despite having argued against it for years) the change brings benefits for customers.

In other words, having defended Lightning for so long, Apple is now likely to move to ditch it fairly quickly. We already know the 15-series iPhones will feature USB-C ports, while the iPad range completed the transition to USB-C in 2022; this would leave Lightning as the connection choice on some older iPhones that Apple will continue to sell (there were rumors of a new USB-C version of the iPhone 14 and perhaps even iPhone 13, but analysts have cooled on that idea) and a large number of accessories and charging devices.

To simplify the range, and for the sake of a unified marketing message (“USB-C is good now”), Apple will want to shift its Magic Keyboards, Magic Mice, and other accessories away from Lightning as soon as it can, evidently including the AirPods Pro case. And we look forward to watching Tim Cook try to explain why this is all a good thing.

For all the latest news and rumors, check our regularly updated iPhone 15 event hub.


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