Apple is reportedly working on a new version of the AirPods Pro. The new pair of headphones, with the name thought to be the “AirPods Pro 2”, following Apple’s traditional nomenclature of using names and numbers for their products.
The AirPods Pro featured ‘stems’ at the bottom of the earbud that allowed it to sit nicely in the ear and have enough of a stem to allow the user to take it out comfortably, when needed. The stem also had functionality features too – that allowed the stem to control things like the on/off functions of the headphones.
Shape-Shift: The First Reported Change
Apple is reportedly taking a leaf out of Google’s playbook when it comes to the shape and size of their new headphones. Google, with their design of the Pixel Buds sought to decrease the size of their headphones to create a headphone that would fit seamlessly in the ear cavity, without the use of a stem. Samsung also did the same with their “Galaxy Buds”.
New Features – But Not Necessarily in Shape or Size, Or Stem!
Rumours circulating around the internet suggest that Apple changes are going to be made, but they won’t be in shape, size or stem. Instead, Apple’s new features could include an updated H1 chip, new noise-cancelling capabilities, and heart rate detection functions.
Another reported sound upgrade to the AirPods Pro 2 is that it will reportedly share a sound platform with the AirPods 3, with integrated self-equalisation – so that you hear the same audio levels in both ears.
What If I Lose My AirPods?
A small change from the previous iteration of the AirPods Pro, Apple’s newest iteration is reported to allow the AirPods case to play a sound that will allow you to find your AirPods if they’re lost. Similar to Google’s “Find My Phone” feature.
But the question before us isn’t about any of these new features – it’s about Apple’s stemmed headphones, and whether or not they’re superior to those without stems.
What Do Stems Bring to Apple Headphones?
Aside from comfort and control – allowing you to more easily remove the headphones from your ear, the stems on Apple’s AirBuds allow you to control things like the volume. The functionality allows you to pause and skip a song.
Stems are also a part of the ‘look’ of Apple’s AirPods products. They’re somewhat iconic in the industry as being the thing that sets them apart from the competition. They’re distinguishable on purpose. They’re classic and give the headphones a certain look. They set Apple apart from the competition – that while others have gone for a sleeker, stemless approach, Apple has stated true to itself and the stems have remained.
One of the main benefits of the stems are the extra comfort that it brings to the end-user. Each pair of AirPods Pro comes with three different sized tips: small, medium and large – users with smaller ears have reported that having larger tips sizes sometimes help with comfort. Further, being easily able to remove the headphones by gripping the stems offer a more pleasant user experience than having to dig around and potentially causing ear damage by digging out the stem-less alternatives.
One thing that the stems provide for users of Apple’s AirPods Pro is that the stems actually provide another layer of security that they won’t fall out. The other point of contact with your skin is a life-saver if you’re removing hats or beanies from your head and you don’t want your headphones falling out with them.
The No-Stem Argument
On the flipside of the ‘stem’ coin is the discomfort that can sometimes be brought about by having stemmed headphones – particularly for users that have ear piercings. At times, the stems can cause discomfort by rubbing up against the piercings, causing them to move around in the ear.
It is very unlikely that Apple will remove their iconic stems from their AirPods Pro 2 headphones. While the new headphones could possibly have plenty of new features that make them a step-up from the AirPods Pro, a BEATs-style stemless design isn’t likely to be one of them.