First unveiled five years ago, the design of Apple's original AirPods was widely mocked, mainly thanks to the wireless earbuds' comically prominent stems. Skip forward four years, and it seems Apple has clearly had the last laugh – it's impossible to walk down the street without spotting various pairs of AirPods.
But if a new report is anything to go by, that once-maligned, now iconic stem could soon be no more, with the AirPods Pro 2 switching to a rounded, in-ear design. We've heard similar rumours before, but these come from seasoned Apple leaker Ming Chi-Kuo – who claims that the new AirPods Pro will drop at the end of 2022. (Want a great price on the current AirPods Pro? Check out our AirPods Pro deals page.)
As spotted by MacRumors, Kuo claims the new Pros will feature "an entirely new design that dispenses with the short stem that comes out of the bottom for a design similar to the Beats Fit Pro." Seasoned Apple leaker Mark Gurman made similar claims last year, along with suggesting the basic AirPods would adopt a design akin to the AirPods Pro. And as we now know, that was very much the case with the AirPods 3.
Kuo suggests the new AirPods Pro will arrive "in the last quarter of 2022". Although rumours have suggested a 2022 launch for a while, this is the first time we've been given a timeframe – and it seems AirPods Pro fans could have a while to wait.
We're curious to see whether a stemless pair of AirPods manages to retain the same iconic aesthetic. While the design was the subject of many a meme back in 2016, there's no denying its incredible popularity now. That said, with plenty of stemless options already on the market such as the Google Pixel Buds A (above), Apple might need to cut the stem if it wants to stay ahead of the game.
Time will tell what Apple has in store for the next generation of AirPods Pro. But if you don't fancy waiting, check out today's best deals below, and be sure to visit our round-up of the best wireless headphones.
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