The next step for the AirPods line, the rumored AirPods Max will add headphones to Apple's audio and music department. Designed to have all the features of the AirPods Pro while adding some of its own new technology, the AirPods Max will provide Apple fans a headphone alternative to the world-renowned AirPods.
Since its initial release in 2016, the Apple AirPods have become some of the most popular earbuds. Now, with the 2nd-generation AirPods and AirPods Pro in their lineup, Apple is planning on adding the AirPods Max.
The AirPods Max was previously rumored to be nicknamed "AirPods Studio." Since Apple's announcement on December 8, 2020, the new AirPods headphones is confirmed to be called "AirPods Max."
The AirPods Max is Apple's first headphones. The Max will retain many of the AirPods' features, implemented into a headphone model.
From the AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max retains some of its predecessor's best features. For example, the AirPods Max uses the H1 chip in each ear cup to provide smooth and quick connectivity between the headphones and the Apple device.
Active Noise Cancellation is another feature the AirPods Max borrows from the AirPods Pro. Not only does Active Noise Cancellation block outside noises from disrupting the user's audio, but it also improves sound quality.
With iOS 14's upgrade in Spatial Audio and AirPods Max's own Equalizer settings, the AirPods Max will likely feature Apple's best sound quality yet.
With its five sensors, the AirPods Max uses the Optical sensor, Position sensor, and Accelerometer to detect your head and neck movements. Naturally, when your AirPods Max isn't used, the AirPods Max will pause its audio.
Besides the audio technology, the AirPods Max features an impressive design and color selection to fit your style. Like before, the AirPods Max features a clean and minimal appearance to match the aesthetic across all Apple products.
The AirPods Max prioritizes comfort while giving you not one but five color options. In addition to the colors, you can further personalize your listening gear with Apple's free engraving offer as previously included for all AirPods and AirPods Pro purchases from Apple.
Last but not least, don't forget about the matching Smart Case that accompanies your AirPods Max.
Similar to the AirPods and AirPods Pro cases, the Smart Case connects with your AirPods Max. The new feature is that the Smart Case helps maintain an ultra-low-power state when connected to your AirPods Max—perfect for conserving battery!
Now, let's dive into the details and other specifications for the AirPods Max.
Design and Size
Like the AirPods and AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max will retain Apple's classic, clean, and minimal appearance. Unlike the previous AirPods accessories, the AirPods Max gets more color options to select from, but we will uncover those details in the next section.
As for the design, the AirPods Max release confirms previous predictions that it would be Apple's first over-ear headphones.
Since the AirPods Max is designed to last up to 20 hours of listening time on a single charge, having comfortable earpads will provide you the comfort you need to focus on your work or watch a movie uninterrupted.
The AirPods Max features a canopy headband that is designed to be a breathable mesh for long-lasting comfortable wear. This mesh helps to evenly distribute the headphones' weight across the user's head to reduce common on-head pressure experienced from most existing headphones.
Connected on both sides are the cushioned earpads inside the anodized aluminum cups via the stainless steel frame and telescoping arms to each side of the user's head. For this new AirPods accessory, Apple prioritized sturdiness, comfort, and flexibility to accommodate every users' listening needs.
As for the size, the AirPods Max is 7.4 x 6.6 x 3.3 inches and weighs in at 13.6 ounces.
The AirPods Max comes with a protective Smart Case that wraps around it, making your AirPods Max look like a high-tech purse. The Smart Case is also used to help you preserve the AirPods Max battery at an ultra-low-power state.
Like the AirPods and AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max also comes with a lightning connector (also referred to as lightning to USB-C cable) for charging purposes.
Besides these essential components for the AirPods Max, one of the more exciting features is the various color options.
Apple decided to add a splash of color to 2020.
As previously seen in the iPad Air (4th-generation) released in September 2020, Apple added more color options for the AirPods Max.
For the iPad Air (4th-generation), Apple added a matte Sky Blue and Green shade and the Rose Gold shade. Similarly, the AirPods Max is not exclusive to the classic Silver/White shade previously seen for the AirPods and AirPods Pro.
If you thought you couldn't personalize your Apple listening gear beyond adding an engraving, you need to check out the AirPods Max.
The AirPods Max is available in Space Gray, Silver, Green, Sky Blue, and Pink. When you select a color for your AirPods Max, the corresponding Smart Case also comes in the same color.
If you ever need to replace your Ear Cushions, Apple offers AirPods Max replacement ear cushions for $69 in all five colors: Space Gray, Silver, Green, Sky Blue, and Pink. Each purchase gives you one set (or a pair) of ear cushions for both sides of the AirPods Max.
When you order the AirPods Max replacement ear cushions, consider switching up the colors! It's the perfect time to customize your Apple headphones in a subtle yet unique way.
Like its predecessors, the AirPods Max also includes a free engraving when you buy it from Apple.
Similar to having an emoji, text, or numbers engraved to the case of your AirPods and AirPods Pro cases, you can customize your AirPods Max's exterior with any engraving of your choice.
H1 Chip and Audio Quality
As seen in the AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max uses an H1 Chip with a slight modification. Apple's H1 headphone chip is featured in each ear cup to provide jaw-dropping listening experiences.
The H1 headphone chip provides reliable support for the various audio technology that enhances the listening quality.
The audio technology featured in the AirPods Max includes the Apple-designed dynamic driver, Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode, Adaptive EQ, and Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking.
The Apple-designed dynamic driver provides the clean, crisp, and deep bass audio quality—this is what you're paying for that cannot be replicated in the AirPods and AirPods Studio. The AirPods Max uses each of the 10 audio cores in the H1 headphone chip to provide an incomparable listening experience for you.
With Active Noise Cancellation on, the AirPods Max will use an external mic to record outside noises then use an internal mic to play melancholic sound, negating the outside noise. This way, users will get better audio quality and focus on playing through their headphones.
With Transparency Mode, users will be able to hear outside noises. This mode can be useful during situations where users must be wary of their surroundings. If someone is going to call out for you, Transparency Mode allows you to hear them easily. Also, it saves battery.
With Apple's recent iOS 14 update, Spatial Audio, already available on the AirPods Pro, may be available for the AirPods Max. This integration makes for a more immersive sound experience for the AirPods Max users.
The best part of the audio technology is that the AirPods Max supports Automatic Switching and Audio Sharing. Experience the seamless transitions from your iPhone, iPad, to your Mac. You can continue listening to your podcast, playlists, and calls without any audio interruptions.
With Audio Sharing, you can share audio for a television show, song, or podcast episode between two sets of AirPods on your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or Apple TV. Using a single tap, you can share a high-quality listening experience without the excess background noise in your environment.
In terms of sensors, the AirPods Max features different sensors for each ear cup. It has an Optical sensor, Position sensor, Case-detect sensor, and Accelerometer sensor in each ear cup. The only sensor that is exclusive to the left ear cup is the Gyroscope.
According to the user, these five sensors are essential to help the AirPods Max detect the user's position and adjust the listening experience.
With the Accelerometer, the AirPods Max detects when you're using them and when you're not. When you remove the AirPods Max from your ears, your AirPods Max knows.
Unlike the AirPods, where you can remove them from your ears, headphone users usually place their headphones around their neck when not using them. With this in mind, Apple designed the AirPods Max to detect this motion.
The Position sensor helps detect how you position your AirPods Max. When users place their AirPods Max around their neck, the audio automatically pauses.
If you're listening to music but suddenly need to engage in conversation, the AirPods Max will pause the song as you place the headphones around your neck. Similarly, when the user puts the headphones back on their head, the AirPods Max will automatically resume playing.
For those of us who aren't familiar with the Gyroscope, this sensor helps detect how the AirPods Max is tilted and positioned. By sensing this, your AirPods Max can adjust and stabilize the sound quality as you move your head around.
When you're using your listening gear, you'll probably want to keep them on even when you're taking a telephone or video call.
Unlike the AirPods and AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max has nine microphones in total to ensure you have the best chatting experience (in addition to the high-quality listening experience).
The AirPods Max has eight microphones used for Active Noise Cancellation. Two of the Active Noise Cancellation microphones are also used with one more microphone to detect your voice during your calls.
The various microphone support means you can continue using your Apple headphones during a call without switching to your AirPods or AirPods Pro.
The integration of nine microphones surpasses other headphone experiences as most headphones do not have any or high-quality microphones to support your calls. The latest high-quality headphones usually specialize in providing you a high-quality listening experience.
Because they don't have a microphone, you would need to purchase a microphone separately if you're filming or need to switch to your earphones with a microphone to pick up a call.
Battery and Controls
Apple didn't shy away from enhancing the AirPods Max battery. In the previous Apple listening gear, AirPods Pro, the battery lasted 4.5 hours, half an hour less than the original AirPods.
With the AirPods Max, you get up to 20 hours of listening time on a single charge.
The 20-hour time frame gives you more than enough time to binge-watch your favorite shows and movie marathons while catching up on class lectures, listening to your playlists, and chatting with friends in audio and video calls.
A good thing to know is that you get 1.5 hours of listening time when you charge your AirPods Max for 5 minutes—the battery upgrade is incredible!
When you're not using the AirPods Max, place it into its Smart Case. As mentioned before, the Smart Case helps preserve the battery by keeping it at an ultra-low-power state. The ultra-low-power state means you can maximize the AirPods Max battery life for longer!
As for the controls, there are the Digital Crown and Noise control buttons to accommodate your listening experience. Like the Force Sensor feature, use the Digital Crown button to adjust your audio or chat with Siri.
The Digital Crown helps you control the following:
- Volume: Turn to raise or lower volume
- Phone Calls: Press once to answer
- Play/Pause Audio: Press once
- Skip Forward Audio: Press twice
- Skip Back Audio: Press three times
- Chat with Siri: Press and hold
As for the Noise control button, you can press it to change from Active Noise Cancellation mode to Transparency mode, and vice versa.
Siri and Compatibility
Like before, the AirPods Max is compatible with Siri. Continue to chat with Siri to play songs, begin phone calls, adjust the volume, ask for directions, and more hands-free.
Similar to the HomePod mini, the AirPods Max is compatible with Siri to have Siri Announce Messages and read notifications to you without the hassle of unlocking your iPhone and manually scrolling through your messages.
To ensure a flawless connection with the AirPods Max, you will need to ensure that your Apple devices are using the latest operating systems that include the iOS 14.3 or later, iPadOS 14.3 or later, watchOS 7.2 or later, macOS Big Sur 11.1 or later, or tvOS 14.3 or later.
In terms of device compatibility, the latest iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and Apple TV models will connect with your AirPods Max. For the older devices, check Apple's AirPods Max Compatibility section to see if your device will connect with the latest AirPods accessory!
Pricing, Launch, and Release
The Apple AirPods Max starts at $549. Like previous AirPods and AirPods Pro purchases, your AirPods Max purchase includes a free engraving when you purchase it from Apple.
In comparison, the AirPods is priced starting at $159, and the AirPods Pro starting at $249. Although the AirPods Max has a higher price tag, it includes more features and an enhanced listening experience you cannot get from the in-ear AirPods and AirPods Pro.
As for the launch and release, Apple unexpectedly launched the AirPods Max on December 8, 2020.
The Apple-exclusive headphones can be purchased from December 8, 2020, onwards on Apple.com and in Apple's Store app. While it is available to order now, the first batch of AirPods Max won't be shipped until December 15, 2020.
Unlike the other releases this year in September, October, and November for the Apple Watch Series 6 and SE, iPad Air, iPhone 12, HomePod mini, and M1 Macs, the AirPods Max did not get a launch event.
Previously, the prolific Apple leaker Jon Prosser noted that the AirPods Max, also referred to as 'AirPods Studio,' Fitness version will retail for $350 whereas the Premium version will retail for $599.
Update: AirPods Max Delivery Set Backs (As of December 8, 2020)
The AirPods Max has been a highly-anticipated Apple product during the latter half of 2020.
The AirPods Max was previously nicknamed 'AirPods Studio' in the rumors leading up to its release. While the AirPods Max did not get a launch event like the Apple Watch Series 6 and SE, iPad Air, iPhone 12s, HomePod mini, and M1 Macs, the AirPods Max is not a product to overlook.
Five New AirPods Colors for AirPods Max
Besides the fantastic audio quality and comfortable yet sleek headphone design, the AirPods Max received an all-new Apple design.
Like the 2020 iPad Air (4th-generation), the AirPods Max got a splash of new color options.
Unlike its predecessors, the AirPods and AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max does not come in White. The AirPods Max and its corresponding Smart Case come in five gorgeous yet minimal colors: Silver, Space Gray, Sky Blue, Pink, and Green.
The new color selection seems to reveal a more colorful aesthetic to Apple's classic White and Gray colors seen in previous iPhone, iPad, and Mac models. Unlike the Sky Blue and Green, the Pink AirPods Max does not match the Rose Gold shade offered for the new iPad Air (4th-generation).
If you have the latest iPad Air (4th-generation), will you get a matching Sky Blue or Green AirPods Max?
Why are there AirPods Max Delivery Delays?
While various reasons could cause delivery delays, the main issue is most likely manufacturing setbacks due to COVID-19. The AirPods Max delivery setbacks are not the first time Apple faced production issues in 2020.
From August until the launch event, the iPhone 12 was rumored to have a delayed launch due to manufacturing issues.
New iPhone models are typically released in September with Apple's annual Fall product launch event. Due to the coronavirus, Apple's supply chain experienced setbacks that required the giant tech company to delay the launch to October 2020.
As for the AirPods Max, it is not a surprise that the delivery and shipment dates vary and are further delayed due to the holiday season and further measures taken due to COVID-19.
AirPods Max Delivery Set Backs into 2021
Regardless of the color you choose, there are already delivery setbacks that will delay when you will receive your AirPods Max.
As mentioned on Apple's website, the AirPods Max is ready to be pre-ordered on December 8, 2020, and will be shipped out a week later, on December 15, 2020.
The December 15, 2020 shipment date pertains to the Space Gray and Silver AirPods Max orders. It's also important to note that shipment orders personal engraving requests could be delayed by another week towards December 21-22, 2020.
As for the Green, Pink, and Sky Blue AirPods Max, these orders are estimated to be shipped in February to March 2021 at the earliest. Given the 12-14 weeks delivery period, you can only get a sped-up delivery time if you get an engraving.
Update: AirPods Max orders with engravings get sped up delivery times. See the next section for more information.
If you're thinking about purchasing any of the AirPods Max models at your local Apple store, save your time. At this moment, the AirPods Max is not available for in-store pickup. The Apple retail locations will not receive any AirPods Max stock until December 15, 2020.
Update: Speed Up AirPods Max Orders With Engraving
If you want to speed up your AirPods Max shipments, add a free personal engraving when you purchase it from Apple.
The delivery dates are moved up by a couple of days when you add a personal engraving to your AirPods Max.
The current estimated delivery time ranges from 12-14 weeks from the first shipment date of December 15, 2020. This means the earliest you could get your AirPods Max is between the weeks of March 5 to March 19, 2021.
Like your AirPods and AirPods Pro purchases, you can add a free engraving to identify your listening gear. To personalize your AirPods Max, include an emoji or phrase up to 14 characters.
As for the delivery dates, the time frame could be reduced by 2-3 weeks depending on various factors. Here is a quick summary of the time differences:
|AirPods Max Color||Delivery Date with Engraving (Approx.)||Delivery Date without Engraving (Approx.)|
|Silver||Dec. 15, 2020||Dec. 15-18, 2020|
|Space Gray||Dec. 15, 2020||Dec. 15-18, 2020|
|Pink||Dec. 30, 2020 - Jan. 7, 2021||Jan. 15-22, 2021|
|Green||Jan. 21-28, 2020||Feb./Mar. 2021|
|Sky Blue||Feb. 2021||Mar. 2021|
If you purchase your AirPods Max without an engraving, do expect the shipment to take 12-14 weeks to deliver to you.
The possible reason for a quicker delivery time when you order your AirPods Max with an engraving could be because Apple has reserved a batch of AirPods Max for engravings.
AirPods Max vs. AirPods Pro vs. AirPods
|AirPods Max||AirPods Pro||AirPods|
|Price||Starting at $549||Starting at $249||Starting at $159|
|AirPods Dimensions||7.4 x 6.6 x 3.3 in.||30.9 x 21.8 x 24.0 mm||40.5 x 16.5 x 18.0 mm|
|Water Resistance||N/A||IPX4 water resistance||N/A|
|Case Dimensions||7.4 x 6.6 x 3.3 in. (same as device)||45.2 x 21.7 x 60.6 mm||44.3 x 21.3 x 53.5 mm|
|Battery Life||20 hours||4.5 hours||5 hours|
|Quick-Charge||5 mins for 1.5 hour time||5 mins for 1 hour time||15 mins for 3 hours time|
|Noise-Cancelling||Active Noise Cancellation||Active Noise Cancellation||N/A|
|Audio Control||Digital Crown||Force Sensor||Double-Tap Feature|
Design and Size
The most apparent differences between the AirPods Max and its predecessors, the AirPods and AirPods Pro, are design and size.
While the AirPods and AirPods Pro were the sizes of your average-sized dental floss box, the AirPods Max takes the form of headphones as it is Apple's first over-ear listening accessory.
Instead of the AirPods' classic bud and stem design, the AirPods Max has an over-ear appearance. With this design in mind, the AirPods Max size is significantly larger than the other AirPods.
Since the AirPods Max is undoubtedly larger than the AirPods Pro and AirPods, so is its corresponding Smart Case.
The Smart Case, like the AirPods Pro and AirPods cases, is designed to connect with the AirPods Max for charging and protection purposes. We'll discuss more the Smart Cases's battery conservation feature in the Battery section.
Because the AirPods Max is not an in-ear listening gear, it does not feature the silicone ear tips and IPX4 water resistance features seen in the AirPods Pro.
The key features that the AirPods Max shares with the AirPods Pro are the Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes. These two modes can be controlled with the new Digital Crown that helps you adjust your audio.
Similar to the AirPods Pro's Force Sensor and AirPods' Double-Tap Feature, the Digital Crown lets you answer calls, play or pause music, skip forward and back, and chat with Siri with a combination of one to three presses and holds of the button.
You can't talk about AirPods Max design without looking at its various color options.
In previous models, the AirPods, AirPods Pro, and its respective cases were only offered in White. For the AirPods Max, the over-ear headphones are offered in five colors (Space Gray, Silver, Green, Sky Blue, and Pink), similar to the iPad Air (4th-generation) colors.
If you thought Apple's products couldn't be even more aesthetically pleasing, the AirPods Max would surprise you. Like the AirPods and AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max color for the device itself matches the Smart Case included in every purchase.
The matching colors mean you can sport your Sky Blue or Green AirPods Pro Max with its Smart Case and the matching iPad Air (4th-generation) altogether for a cohesive and monochrome look.
If you like the Rose Gold iPad Air and want to match it to the Pink AirPods Max, you may be disappointed to see a slight color difference between the two shades. Without the Gold tinge, the Pink AirPods Max has a brighter and bolder look across the canopy headband.
Regardless of the color you choose, the AirPods Max will not disappoint. The additional benefit is that you also get a free personal engraving when you purchase the AirPods Max from Apple, similar to AirPods and AirPods Pro purchases.
Like the design, the battery is equally as important. For the AirPods Max, it surpasses the battery life of the AirPods Pro and AirPods combined.
Assuming most AirPods Max users will be listening to their favorite tunes, chatting in video calls, and catching up on the latest shows, the AirPods Max is built to last for the whole day.
Previously, the AirPods Pro lasted 4.5 hours, and AirPods could power through 5 hours of listening time. Given the AirPods Max higher price, Apple ensured to upgrade the battery life of the AirPods Max to 20 hours of listening time on a single charge.
Although the AirPods Max is not water-resistant like the AirPods Pro, 20 hours of listening time is more than enough for you to listen to music all day, catch up on course lectures, watch a movie or two, and chat with your friends and family via voice or video calls.
The best part of the AirPods Max is the enhanced audio quality, but we'll review those upgrades in the next section.
The AirPods Max battery requires a long-lasting 20 hours to support the elevated audio technology features and any audio you need to listen to without interruption.
As long as you don't mind the headband, connect the AirPods Max to your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, iPod touch, Mac, or Apple TV, continue moving to your workout, or watch your video.
As for the audio quality, the AirPods Max includes the latest audio technology provided by Apple.
The AirPods Max and AirPods Pro differ in terms of the vent system for pressure equalization, custom high-excursion Apple driver, and custom high-dynamic-range amplifier seen in the AirPods Pro and the Apple-designed dynamic driver in the AirPods Max.
The AirPods Max combines the high-fidelity audio and the AirPods Pro features, except for the vent system for pressure equalization, to provide rich bass and crisp highs. Because the AirPods Max is not an in-ear audio accessory, Apple removed the pressure equalization.
Besides hearing every detail in any audio you're listening to, the AirPods Max also features the Transparency mode seen in the AirPods Pro. The Transparency mode gives you the option to hear the sounds around you for safety reasons. Like the AirPods Pro, you can switch back to the Active Noise Cancellation mode for the ultimate listening experience.
In addition to the listening quality, the microphone standard improved as well. Instead of two microphones, as seen in the AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max has nine microphones in total to detect the sounds in your environment and your voice for hands and hassle-free Siri controls.
Eight of the nine microphones are used for Active Noise Cancellation. When you're wearing your AirPods Max, it is continuously detecting and canceling the noise around you for the best listening experience.
As for talking, the AirPods Max uses two of the eight microphones for Active Noise Cancellation and the last microphone to pick up your voice for calls and Siri activation.
Is AirPods Max Worth It?
If you're wondering if the AirPods Max is worth it, it depends on how you will use it. Do you prefer in-ear or over-ear listening gear? Also, when will you use your AirPods Max?
Once you've established how you will use it, think about your environment. Do you find yourself in noisy areas? If so, the Active Noise Cancellation feature in the AirPods Max helps with this issue.
Although the Active Noise Cancellation feature is previously featured in the AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max also comes with enhanced audio quality for inputting and outputting audio. Having Active Noise Cancellation means the person you have audio or video calls with can hear you better—more professional for work, too.
Lastly, given the AirPods Max's price, the longer battery life, accessibility features for individuals with disabilities, nine microphones (let alone one), and wireless connection option offers more than other headphones in the current market.
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