A filing in the Bluetooth SIG products database earlier this month indicates that Apple is preparing devices with Bluetooth 5.2 support. This could be evidence that Apple is working on future AirPods Pro with LE Audio support.
As noted by MacRumors, the Apple filing includes references to a Bluetooth 5.3 host subsystem that is likely intended for future products. However, the filing likely is referring to Bluetooth 5.2, as traditionally the Bluetooth versions listed in Apple’s filings in the database are often one version number higher than the version that ends up being supported on a device, for reasons unclear.
Apple’s adoption of Bluetooth 5.2 would be beneficial to AirPods users, as the specification includes support for LE Audio with several improvements to wireless audio streaming. LE Audio is part of the low-energy Bluetooth LE standard.
According to The Verge, there are several elements to Bluetooth LE Audio, but the one that’s likely to impact the most people is the new LC3 codec, which is designed to be a much more efficient way to transmit audio. That either means much higher audio quality at the same bit rate than the current baseline SBC codec, or even (the Bluetooth SIG claims) slightly better audio quality at less than half the bit rate. A lower bit rate means lower power consumption, which should offer longer battery life.