AirPods Pro’s New USB-C Cases Hint at the End of the Lightning Era


The anticipated “Wonderlust” event by Apple on September 12 might reveal the often-speculated switch to USB-C charging cases for AirPods Pro.

Tech analyst Mark Gurman from Bloomberg suggests that Apple’s upcoming product reveal, which includes the eagerly awaited iPhone 15 series, will take center stage in Cupertino at the iconic Steve Jobs Theater. Besides the buzz surrounding the forthcoming iPhones, whispers about the expected 2023 AirPods Pro charging case are creating ripples of their own.

The 2022 debut of the second-generation AirPods Pro brought a suite of features to the table. An upgraded H2 chip boosted the audio quality, while improved noise cancellation and spatial audio took the listening experience up a notch. The charging case itself received attention with a new lanyard loop and the Precision Finding feature, helping users locate their misplaced cases swiftly. The case’s built-in speakers and compatibility with various Apple charging solutions, including the Apple Watch, MagSafe, and Qi-certified charging mats, were part of its versatile design. Yet, a shift in the charging standard is on the horizon.

The Transition to USB-C in AirPods Pro Charging Cases: Why Now?

Apple’s history with unexpected shifts in product features is notable. In 2016, the brand made headlines for eliminating the headphone jack, followed by the removal of the fingerprint sensor in 2017. This time around, the move to adopt USB-C is driven by external forces. The EU Parliament has mandated a unified charging standard for electronic devices, stipulating that to access the European market, all battery-powered products with wired charging and power delivery capabilities near 100 Watts must incorporate a USB-C port. This regulatory move aims to decrease e-waste and consumer expenses by enabling charger reusability across a wide range of devices, including phones, earphones, and even items like speakers and handheld gaming consoles that fit the power criteria.

Faced with these regulations, companies like Apple can either sidestep the European market, create EU-exclusive products, or align their global lineup with the new standards. With the regulatory trend gaining traction globally, it seems the redesigned AirPods Pro cases will be the tip of the iceberg in a broader shift.

Beyond USB-C: Are Further Upgrades Planned for AirPods Cases?

The prospects of additional improvements to the charging cases remain speculative. Given the recent 2022 enhancements, an imminent major update to the AirPods is uncertain. It’s also undetermined whether USB-C cases will be optionally available for previous models, though this seems unlikely. Accompanying the forthcoming ‌iOS 17‌ update, featuring new software capabilities and firmware upgrades, no specific link to the USB-C AirPods Pro 2023 release has surfaced.

Therefore, while the upcoming product launch is expected to spotlight the iPhone 15 range, the speculated transition to USB-C for all future iPhones indicates that Apple’s Lightning charger, introduced in 2012, might be nearing its twilight.

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