Apple recently released the final iOS 16.4 beta to the public and developers, which references new AirPods and Beats Studio+ earbuds. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has stated that the AirPods referenced in the update are likely the USB-C version of the AirPods Pro 2, which is set for mass shipments between the second and third quarter of 2023. However, Kuo also mentioned that Apple does not have plans to release USB-C versions of AirPods 2 and 3.
The iOS 16.4 update uses model number A3048 for the new AirPods and model number A2968 for the case. Kuo’s tweet led to some questions about why there is a new model number for the AirPods in addition to the new case model number.
Apple is planning to shift its iPhone 15 line to USB-C later this year, which means that most of the company’s accessories are likely to follow suit. Kuo has previously reported that future AirPods would adopt USB-C for charging, as would other Apple accessories, such as the Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad, Magic Mouse accessories for Mac, and the MagSafe Battery Pack accessory for iPhone.
The European Union’s new legislation stipulates that companies must comply with the mandate by December 28, 2024, which is one reason Apple is adopting USB-C for its products. The USB-C version of AirPods Pro may be the first version to transition, while AirPods 2 and AirPods 3 may follow at a later date.