The rumored shift is now official – USB-C charging is coming to Apple AirPods.
Apple confirmed at its Far Out event that the newly announced second-generation AirPods Pro will switch from Lightning to USB-C charging. The updated USB-C charging case will provide compatibility with existing chargers for recent iPad and MacBook models.
The change comes as Apple faces mandates to adopt the more universal USB-C standard. The European Union finalized legislation requiring USB-C charging on new mobile devices by 2024, a rule that will impact iPhones sold in the region.
Apple provided no indication that the EU regulation played a role in the company’s decision to switch to USB-C AirPods, instead touting it as an upgrade for consumers.
The AirPods Pro upgrade available for order on September 22nd alongside the new iPhone 15 lineup.
But there’s a catch – Apple isn’t offering the new USB-C case as a standalone purchase for existing AirPods Pro owners. The only option is to purchase the full $249 2nd generation AirPods Pro to get the new case.
The shift to USB-C brings Apple’s wireless earbuds up to speed with the charging standards found on its MacBooks and iPads. It also conveniently times with the EU’s looming legislation that could have forced their hand anyway.
But for now, owners of the original Lightning-based AirPods Pro are left in the cold when it comes to upgrading to USB-C. Once again, Apple is pushing hardware upgrades rather than enabling backwards compatibility.