AirPods Max 2: Everything we know so far

An AirPods Max concept propped on a charging dock
(Image credit: Yanko Deesign)

Now that the hype around the AirPods Pro 2 has died down, it’s time to get excited for what will likely be Apple’s next major audio release: the AirPods Max 2. A rumored follow-up to the AirPods Max, one of the best noise-cancelling headphones money can buy, there’s much anticipation over what these next-gen cans will bring to the audio market and how they’ll integrate within Apple’s flawless ecosystem.

At this time, we advise tempering your expectations since very little has been divulged regarding the AirPods Max 2. However, we’ve seen some interesting rumors, along with recently filed patents, which are enough to create dialogue around this highly anticipated sequel. And more is sure to come heading into the New Year.

As we continue to gather all the latest news, check out what we already know about the AirPods Max 2, including price, release date, special features, and more.

AirPods Max 2 release date

The Apple AirPods Max laying on a bed of leaves

(Image credit: Future)

The AirPods line doesn’t have a set annual release timeframe like the iPhone, Apple Watch or MacBook Pro. If we’re going based on previous AirPods launches, then the AirPods Max 2 would probably see a release either sometime December 2022 or 2023, which would be two to three years after the original hit store shelves.

Note that there was a two-year stretch between the AirPods 2 and AirPods 3, as well as a three-year stretch between the AirPods Pro and AirPods Pro 2. Keep in mind too, the latter experienced some delays due to supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether the AirPods Max 2’s production has been affected by this remains uncertain.

AirPods Max 2 price

The AirPods Max placed in the Smart Case

(Image credit: Future)

Pricing for the AirPods Max 2 is unknown. Our prediction is Apple will retain the original’s MSRP, $549, which is exactly what they did when releasing the AirPods Pro 2. It makes sense, especially if Apple phases out the first-gen version, like they’ve silently done with the AirPods Pro (1st gen). Notice how it’s no longer listed on Apple’s website (opens in new tab).

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman did share on his Power On newsletter that the original AirPods Max might receive a price drop and new colors. This would help refresh Apple’s over-ear headphone line until the newest version is announced. A lower price may also indicate that a new model is coming down the pike.

AirPods Max 2 design

The AirPods Max and Smart Case on display

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Apple isn’t into radical redesigns. They have a model in place, build around it, and implement new hardware to accommodate both form and function. We’ve seen it with every iteration of the AirPods, and this is bound to happen with the AirPods Max 2. That means the sleek aluminum cups, extendable arm bands, and mesh headband will likely go untouched. Reductions in size and weight are possible.

A patent showing touch controls on a future AirPods Max model

(Image credit: Patently Apple)

As far as upgrades, certain patents offer the best look at a future AirPods Max model. This one discovered by Patently Apple shows Apple is working on a touch-sensitive surface that would accept tap and slide gestures to activate audio controls. Could this mean the end of the Digital Crown? We’ll see.

Another patent discovered by Patently Apple shows “headphones with removeable earpieces.” It notes that "in some embodiments, the earpad assembly can be coupled to the earpiece housing by magnets or a series of snaps."

A patent for Apple's next-gen Smart Case

(Image credit: Patently Apple)

Apple was also granted a patent for their Smart Case, which takes on a new form factor. The previous version wasn’t well-received, mostly criticized for its purse-like design, though it did welcome nifty features like a low power mode when storing the headphones. This newer take on the case is more streamlined and makes some changes. Apple states, “the new housing may have an opening into an interior region that receives the headphones.” On top of that, Patently Apple discovered what it describes as “an illustrative flexible magnetic ring member for use in a magnetic closure.”

Concept colors for the AirPods Max 2

(Image credit: 9to5 Mac)

The regular AirPods Max comes in five gorgeous colors: Green, Pink, Space Gray, Silver, and Sky Blue. Gurman suggests more may be on the way, though Apple would be better off saving them for the AirPods Max 2.

AirPods Max 2 specs

The internal specs of the AirPods Max

(Image credit: Apple)

Until Apple releases an official spec sheet, any reports on the AirPods Max 2’s functionality are based on speculation and patents.

We know the older AirPods Max runs on the U1 processor, and with Apple having developed a second-gen chip (H2) for the AirPods Pro 2, their next over-ear model could receive the same treatment via U2 processor. It’s also implied that several of the AirPods Pro 2’s upgrades would be added to the AirPods Max 2, including Adaptive Transparency, Bluetooth 5.3, Conversation Boost, longer battery life, skin-detect sensors, and Find My support for the Smart Case.

AirPods Max Concept with magnetic charging input

(Image credit: Yanko Design)

Apple already confirmed they will make the iPhone 15 USB-C compatible to comply with the European Union’s new regulation law. It almost goes without saying that all future Apple products will receive this feature, at least those being rolled out to European markets.

There is a patent that indicates improved ANC and sound through the “detection and mitigation of distracting audio feedback,” which Apple describes as “audio howl.” This would accurately spot and remove feedback, resulting in a more natural sound profile.

A patent for what calls "Audio Howl" on the AirPods Max

(Image credit: Patently Apple)

Lossless audio with Apple Music was rumored for the AirPods Pro 2, but nothing ever came to fruition. According to Gurman (via Power On newsletter), the reason why we haven’t seen it on Apple’s wireless earbuds is because Bluetooth “doesn’t have enough power" to handle it. He goes on to say that Apple is “cooking up a solution internally,” something that would act as a Bluetooth replacement and “eventually bring the feature to future AirPods.” The AirPods Max 2 is the perfect Apple product to debut this audio codec.

AirPods Max 2 outlook

Our reviewer clutching onto the first-gen AirPods Max noise-cancelling headphones

(Image credit: Future)

Apple isn’t anxious to announce the AirPods Max 2, if it even exists. Most industry pros are confident it does. New leaks and rumors are bound to surface over the coming months, especially with Apple’s March 2023 event right around the corner, though history has shown this annual gathering to focus mostly on new iPad and Mac models. 

Apple could switch things up to get more excitement going for their next-gen ANC headphones. We might have to hold out for their September event, which is where they announced the AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2 the past two years. 

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