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Apple may finally bring ANC to the non-Pro AirPods, but you will have to wait some more

The feature is expected in 2024 to the higher priced version of the upcoming non-Pro AirPods (4th gen).
By
December 18, 2023
Apple Airpods Pro Gen 2 vs. Apple Airpods Pro Gen 1 Hero Image 2
Lily Katz / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Apple could bring Active Noise Cancelation (ANC) to non-Pro AirPods in 2024, making it cheaper to get the feature within the company’s lineup.
  • However, only the higher priced non-Pro AirPods 4th gen is expected to get ANC.
  • The AirPods 4th gen is expected in two variants, both with updated designs, redesigned cases, and USB-C charging.

Apple’s AirPods are a case study of how to birth a new product that overshadows its product category. Wireless earbuds existed before AirPods, but the AirPods set fire to the TWS product category. Apple makes more money from AirPods than some big tech companies. Apple has largely kept the AirPods away from an annual refresh cycle, but some change may be on the cards for the base non-Pro AirPods in particular and Apple’s entire hearables lineup in 2024.

Right now, Apple’s AirPods lineup consists of three products: the base AirPods (2nd gen) at $129, the base AirPods (3rd gen) at $169, and the AirPods Pro (2nd gen) at $249. The 2nd gen AirPods retains the classic design, while the 3rd gen AirPods and the 2nd gen AirPods Pro look similar. The Pro features silicone tips for Active Noise Cancelation (ANC), a highlight feature that none of the other AirPods have.

As you may have noticed, the AirPods (3rd gen) sits awkwardly between the other two earbuds. It misses out on Pro features like ANC and apparently doesn’t set itself apart enough to convince base AirPods buyers to go for it instead of the cheaper AirPods 2nd gen.

In 2024, according to a report from Bloomberg, Apple could remedy this situation. Apple could launch two variants of AirPods 4th gen, with updated designs, redesigned cases, and USB-C charging. The report suggests that the higher-end version of AirPods 4th gen (still likely to be a base, non-Pro variant) could feature active noise cancelation. This would effectively bring the AirPods Pro feature down to a lower price point.

Further, Apple could also introduce hearing aid functionality to the AirPods. There is limited information on the specifics, but this could happen in late 2024.

The AirPods Max is also expected to receive USB-C and new colors in 2024. But beyond this, the company is said to be unlikely to introduce new hardware or software features.

For 2025, the AirPods Pro could finally get an update. It is too early for definitive leaks, but the report suggests that the focus could be on enhancing comfort. The company is also in the early development stages for body temperature measurement and health tracking features.

Will these changes get customers excited about the AirPods again? Or will competitors continue to nibble to Apple’s lunch? We’ll find out in 2024.