After months of speculation, Apple took the wraps off its new high-end over-the-ear headset. Dubbed AirPods Max, the headphones come with Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), and spatial audio, and the device syncing features that made the original AirPods famous. Get ready to empty our all of your wallet though, the AirPods Max cost $549 and on pre-order today with a release date set for December 15.
That high-price isn’t the only gotcha that may have you thinking twice about dropping some hard cash on the AirPods Max. It’s possible they only work with Apple devices. The company lists solely Apple devices in its requirements in the press release:
AirPods Max require Apple devices running iOS 14.3 or later, iPadOS 14.3 or later, macOS Big Sur 11.1 or later, watchOS 7.2 or later, or tvOS 14.3 or later.
But that list may not be complete. Other products like the AirPods and AirPods Pro also have an “Apple only” requirement list, but still work with Android. It’s not clear why it wouldn’t work with Android devices, as other AirPods models do, but the company does sell a lighting jack to headphone jack adapter that could help if Android doesn’t already work. Either way, you’ll lose at least some of the features, like spatial audio, in the process, though as those require an iPhone or iPad to do the heavy lifting.
Many of those features come directly from Apple devices. That includes transparency mode, spatial audio, ANC, and Adaptive EQ. And Apple brought over a twist of the digital crown from the Apple Watch.
The new digital crown gives you control of the volume, along with the ability to play and pause audio, skip tracks, answer and end phone calls, and activate Siri. You’ll find it next to the ANC switch. On the audio end of things, the AirPods Max packs a 40 mm Apple-designed dynamic driver that the company says provides “high-fidelity audio.” Apple says its “custom acoustic design and advanced software” will deliver “rich, deep bass, accurate mid-ranges, and crisp, clean high-frequency extension so every note can be heard.”
Like Airpods and AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max uses an H1 chip to make pairing with your Apple devices faster and easier. You can set up the device with a single tap. And the AirPods Max will detect when you are wearing them and when you take them off.
When you do take them off, you can put them in the included Smart Case, which in turn will put the AirPods Max into an ultralow-power mode to extend battery life. Sadly you use a lightning cable, not USB-C, to recharge the headphones. Apple promises you’ll get up to 20 hours of playtime with Active Noise Cancellation and spatial audio enabled.
You can pre-order the Apple AirPods Max today for $549, and they release on December 15. They come in space gray, silver, sky blue, green, and pink.
If you want the best sounding AirPods, the new AirPods Max are probably the answer. But at $549 you’ll pay a pretty penny to get superior sound.