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AirPods Pro 2 lossless audio feature might’ve leaked

Published Jan 3rd, 2022 2:35PM EST
AirPods 3
Image: Apple Inc.

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The first AirPods Pro 2 rumor of the year is already here from a trusted insider familiar with Apple’s plans. Well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo revealed the potential release date window for the upcoming Apple wearable and a mentioned couple of brand new features that were not available on previous models. And one of these two new rumored AirPods Pro 2 features is quite exciting: support for lossless audio in a pair of wireless earphones. That’s something unavailable from any current AirPods models, including the first-gen AirPods Pro.

AirPods Pro 2 release date

The so-called AirPods Pro 2 appeared in all sorts of rumors throughout 2021, alongside the AirPods 3. Apple launched AirPods 3 last year, of course. But rumors said that the new Pro model wouldn’t be released until sometime in 2022.

The most recent AirPods Pro 2 release date leak came in mid-December. A leaker said Apple plans to release the AirPods Pro 2 in Q3 of 2022. Apple’s iPhone 13 will launch in Q3 2022, so that estimate makes sense.

Ming-Chi Kuo corroborated that estimate in his new research note to investors, which was seen by 9to5Mac. It’s in the same note that the analyst mentioned lossless audio support for AirPods Pro 2:

We expect Apple to launch AirPods Pro 2 in 4Q22 with new selling points, including a new form factor design, support for Apple Lossless (ALAC) format, and a charging case that can emit a sound for users to track. We are optimistic about the demand for AirPods Pro 2 and estimate shipments will reach 18–20mn units in 2022.

AirPods Pro 2 leaks from October gave us the purported AirPods Pro 2 case design below. At the time, we heard the case will feature speakers on the bottom to let it play Find My sounds. Kuo seems to corroborate those leaks.

AirPods Pro 2 Leak
A leaked image shows the purported AirPods Pro 2 case design. Image source: MacRumors

Why support for lossless audio is so exciting

Most AirPods Pro 2 rumors last year teased a new design with reports saying the earphones might not feature a stem. Similarly, the reports said that AirPods Pro 2 will include some sort of health tracking features.

But support for lossless audio is a new and exciting AirPods Pro 2 claim. That’s because it’s something that’s not possible on any of Apple’s wireless earphones or headphones, whether they’re AirPods or Beats.

Apple Music already supports lossless audio, which enhances the listening experience. It’s a file compression that preserves all the original data of the audio file, hence the “lossless” designation. But lossless audio files can be quite large. This means you need more storage on the Apple devices that support the standard. Or, if you’re streaming your Apple Music, the lossless music files will consume more data.

This need for increased bandwidth is an issue for wireless earphones like the AirPods Pro 2. Bluetooth has to handle the data transfer, and this is a problem that Apple’s vice president of acoustics Gary Geaves highlighted a few days ago in a What Hi-Fi interview.

Geaves stressed the limitations of Bluetooth when it comes to data transfer. “It’s fair to say that we would like more bandwidth, and… I’ll stop right there. We would like more bandwidth,” he said.

Has Apple figured out how to increase Bluetooth data transfer bandwidth so that it can bring lossless support to AirPods Pro 2? Or does Apple plan to use a new wireless standard? We’ll have to wait to find out. But there is a silver lining in all of this. Apple needs to develop fast wireless technology that can handle more bandwidth for two other types of devices, the portless iPhone and the VR/AR Apple Glasses we keep heading about. Maybe the same tech can deliver lossless audio to all future AirPods and Beats devices.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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