6 features AirPods 4 need to stay competitive

Main points

  • Apple is expected to refresh its headphone lineup this year, with all available models likely to receive updates.
  • Enhanced Android support is needed to allow users full access to features unique to Apple devices through AirPods.
  • Potential improvements to AirPods 4 include better sound quality, USB-C charging, enhanced water and dust resistance, Find My support for the charging case, and addressing the lack of ANC in the regular model.

When the iPhone 7 was released without an audio jack, Apple already had plans in place for how to take advantage of this new development. The company is betting big on the wireless headphone market, much to the dismay of wired headphone fans. This approach will definitely pay off in the long run, because today, if you think of the best wireless earphones, AirPods are definitely one of the first models that come to mind.

Today, Apple sells three different models of earbuds: AirPods 2, AirPods 3, and AirPods Pro Gen 2. Having said that, all of these headphones are now out of date and ready for an update, which is expected to launch later this year.


Apple is reportedly preparing 2 affordable AirPods models for September

Second- and third-generation AirPods are expected to be replaced by new models with improved designs in the fall.

According to some reports and leaks, we should expect Apple to launch an entirely new line of headphones, with all models being replaced by new products. AirPods Pro are supposed to get a third-generation update, while AirPods 2 may be replaced by the less expensive AirPods SE. This makes AirPods 3, which will be replaced by AirPods 4, the value proposition of the series.

So maintaining the AirPods 3’s value proposition is a tall order, and here are all the changes we hope to see from the next generation of AirPods.

1 Bringing ANC to standard AirPods

Noise cancellation is too common to be a “Pro” exclusive feature

AirPods 3 2

The AirPods 3 are a solid choice, but their $169 MSRP is quite steep for a set of headphones without active noise cancellation. Competitors in this price range and below typically feature active noise cancellation and transparency modes, so the regular AirPods are rather lacking in this area.


The OnePlus Buds 3 made me realize I don’t need “premium” ANC earbuds

I’ve been wearing the OnePlus Buds 3 ANC headphones for three weeks now, and they’re an audiophile’s dream without being expensive.

Apple’s reasoning is that the AirPods 3 are semi-open, but devices like the Galaxy Buds Live or Sony LinkBuds S have shown that you can go semi-open and add ANC to it – so it’s time for Apple to give it a try too.

2 Enable exact search

Why only Pro 2 features?

What is Precision Find on Apple AirTags and how does it work? Photo 1

One of the great quality-of-life features that AirPods Pro 2 brings is the ability to position not only the AirPods themselves, but also the charging case. That, plus a built-in speaker, means it’s easier to use Find My to locate your case if you accidentally lose it somewhere.


How to quickly find your Apple AirPods using Find

If you lose your AirPods, you can easily find them and even put them into lost mode using Apple’s built-in Find My app.

We’ve seen “Find My” make its way from Apple products into smart devices and even the Ember Travel Mug 2+. Now it’s time for Apple to infiltrate this feature into the regular AirPods 4. Losing your favorite headphones can be a real pain, so making it easier for owners of the new AirPods to find their case would be a great move for Apple.

3 Making a USB-C charging switch

Follow the “Lightning Trench” Movement

Second generation AirPods Pro (USB-C)

Another welcome change we’re looking forward to with the AirPods 4 is the finally inclusion of a USB-C port for charging. As Apple continues to work on the transition from Lightning to USB-C ports, this feature will almost certainly change, as the AirPods Pro 2 already supports USB-C, so if the next version launches, it will be quite unusual. The regular first-generation AirPods still come with outdated ports. Additionally, with the latest iPhone 15 series and second-generation AirPods Pro 2 already adopting USB-C ports, it’s easier for users to use (and keep track of) just one charger for all their Apple (and even Android) devices.


7 features I want to see from AirPods Pro 3

With Wi-Fi audio, customizable transparency mode, and dust resistance rating, the AirPods Pro 3 will become a mainstay for me.

4 better sound quality

Improvements closer to “Pro”

Third generation AirPods in an open charging case on a colorful background.

While the AirPods Pro complement their incredible features with stunning sound quality, the regular AirPods need some improvements. They’re repairable, but you’re buying them as part of the Apple ecosystem, not as true audiophile-grade audio equipment.

Granted, the AirPods 3 perform much better than the AirPods 2, but they still sound unbalanced and have quite a bit of bass rolloff due to their semi-open design.


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We’re hoping the AirPods 4 will address some of the issues with previous generations and deliver not only deeper bass, but a more balanced sound more similar to the AirPods Pro line. With the amazing adaptive sound and personalized spatial audio that the current generation already has, this will make AirPods 4 a pretty powerful audio engine.

5 Waterproof and dustproof time

IP68 would be great

Currently, all AirPods models have an IPX4 waterproof rating. This means they should be able to withstand accidental water splashes, but are not guaranteed to be immune to dust and debris.


Your AirPods aren’t waterproof: 5 things to do if they get wet

Your AirPods are sweat and water resistant, but not waterproof. So, what to do if they get wet – no, rice is not the answer.

If the AirPods 4 had better water and dust resistance ratings, they would be ideal as beach headphones. Making the m IP67 or IP68 waterproof would greatly increase their versatility, allowing you to relax poolside with your AirPods without having to worry about them getting wet.

6 Provide better Android support

Truly universal earplugs

Finally, we come to what every AirPods list should end with: better support for Android devices. Of course, even now, you can use AirPods with an Android device if you want, but you’ll miss out on numerous features that Apple reserves for exclusive use of Apple-branded devices.

These include things like spatial audio, automatic ear detection or quick pairing, and even very simple ones like checking the battery level of the earbuds and their charging case.

The company just deliberately chose to lower the quality of its Android headphones.

There are some workarounds you can try to restore some functionality, but that also means Apple can easily add them as well. The company just deliberately chose to lower the quality of its Android headphones.

Having these features available on Android would not only be a big help to users of both operating systems, but would also welcome those who for whatever reason just want to use their AirPods on an Android device.

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