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Cheaper AirPods 4 should launch this year, and there’s one reason I might get them

Published Apr 2nd, 2024 6:50AM EDT
AirPods 3 on the charging case / not charging
Image: José Adorno for BGR

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Another new report claims that Apple will launch at least one version of the AirPods 4 this year, with an update to the AirPods Max also set for 2024.

I’m already eying an AirPods upgrade, considering that my current AirPods 2 might be well into their second year of use by the time the 2024 AirPods are out. That means they’ll gradually lose battery capacity, and the only way to fix the AirPods battery problem is to get a new model. 

But I won’t go for either of the cheaper AirPods 4 models until I know what iOS 18 has to offer in terms of new AirPods features. I’m not interested in better noise cancellation. Rumors say Apple will bring features like a hearing test and hearing aid functionality to the AirPods Pro via iOS 18. If that’s the case, then I’ll want that upgrade.

Then again, there is one reason I’d pick the cheaper AirPods 4 over anything more expensive, and that concerns my fitness routines.

Analyst Jeff Pu said in a note to investors that MacRumors saw that Apple plans to release lower-cost AirPods this year. Additionally, a new AirPods Max version is in the making.

A Foxconn subsidiary will reportedly provide parts for the lower-cost AirPods. Foxconn will then ramp up AirPods assembly at a factory in India in the fourth quarter of 2024. This signals a potential launch in the Christmas quarter. The AirPods Max will also be released during the same timeframe.

The analyst did not provide additional details about the AirPods 4 or AirPods Max models. Other reports said that Apple is looking to offer two fourth-gen AirPods 4 models so they hit various price points.

The basic model should be an update of the AirPods 2, featuring USB-C charging and a design that looks more like the AirPods 3 or AirPods Pro 2. The more expensive AirPods 4 model will feature noise cancellation, a case with speakers, Find My support, and USB-C charging.

The AirPods Max 2 will support USB-C charging, according to older rumors.

While these are rumors for the time being, I’ll say that I would have no problem choosing the basic AirPods 4 model for my marathon training program. I don’t need noise cancellation when I’m out running. If anything, I’d like to be aware of my surroundings. Then again, I could always disable noise cancellation while running with the AirPods Pro.

But what’s more interesting to me is the purported hearing aid features coming to the AirPods Pro models via iOS 18. Reports seem to indicate the feature won’t need a hardware update, so it would work with existing models. Such a feature could make the AirPods Pro my go-to earphones for most activities that don’t involve marathon training.

Thankfully, we’ll know whether these rumored upgrades are happening. Apple will unveil iOS 18 in June, at which point it should announce all the new AirPods features it’s been developing for this iOS release. That gives me plenty of time to decide which new AirPods to buy, if any, in the fourth quarter of the year when the AirPods 4 should hit stores.

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.