The AirPods Max always piqued my interest. Ever since Apple revealed its premium wireless headphones in a surprisingly discrete press announcement back in 2020, I was enamored by their seamless integration with iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, and I could only imagine what their 40mm custom dynamic drivers could do to my favorite tunes. Oh, and that beautifully crafted stainless steel design that screams comfort? *chefs kiss*
But then, like many of us, I looked at the $549/£549 price tag. “Oof” was my exact initial expression. Do you know what you can buy with that kind of money and still have a little left over? A PS5 for $499/£479. So, that’s exactly what I did. But the AirPods Max were quietly whispering “I’m worth it” at the back of my mind, and I had little doubt everything from Apple’s Personalized Spatial Audio to its stellar active noise canceling (ANC) would impress.
Luckily, I received a review sample of Apple’s AirPods Max earlier this year (and thankfully, they came in the luscious Space Gray color option I had been eyeing up). After months of re-listening to my go-to playlists, testing them out in different scenarios, and watching all manner of shows with the volume cranked up, I can say these premium cans have satisfied my internal hype.
Not everything is sunshine and rainbows (looking at you, Smart Case), but these are a stellar pair of over-ear headphones. And, well, they should be for the price. You don’t need me to tell you if they’re worth it — that’s what our AirPods Max review is for. But with Black Friday 2022 already kicking off with a bundle of brilliant Black Friday headphone deals, I’m convinced now is the best time to nab the AirPods Max.
AirPods Max 2 rumors are scarce
One of the biggest dilemmas that continues to plague the tech world is “should I wait for the upgrade?” It wasn’t too long ago that I was asking this question when impatiently waiting for Apple to finally release the AirPods Pro 2, but I caved and got the AirPods Pro anyway — and it was a good decision.
Inevitably, the AirPods Max will get a second-generation update. Nothing is concrete, but there are already murmurings of the AirPods Max 2. Many believed that they would be announced in 2022, and oft-reliable Apple tracker Mark Gurman poked the fire by claiming that we should “look out for an AirPods Max refresh with new colors” this year.
Yet, after the big iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro reveal, along with the AirPods Pro 2, there was no mention of the AirPods Max 2. What’s more, it seems Apple finished up with its product launches this year, with the next set of devices, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Pro, slated to arrive early next year.
This doesn’t come as a surprise to me, as there are barely any juicy rumors or leaks about a next-gen pair of premium Apple headphones. The closest are a few patents from Patently Apple, suggesting that the new AirPods Max could come with touch gesture controls and a revamped smart case (hallelujah!).
We already have an idea of what the rumored AirPods Max 2 could bring to the table thanks to the AirPods Pro 2. This includes an upgraded H2 chip, improved ANC, the Conversation Boost feature, and longer battery life. We’d like to hope the Cupertino-based tech giant will include lossless audio support, too.
Case and point: it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting next-gen AirPods Max anytime soon. What’s more, there’s not much point in waiting for a new pair to come along if you were put off by the original’s unfavorably high price tag, as they’re likely to be similar. The AirPods Max are ripe for the taking, especially with a discount.
AirPods Max get great discounts
December will mark two years since the AirPods Max made their triumphant debut in 2020, and that means one thing for a host of Apple devices: price cuts. Now that we’re in the season of Black Friday, I’ll bet my life savings that Apple’s premium cans will drop well below their hefty $549 sticker.
Okay, I’m only placing that bet because we’ve already seen that price drop to $449 at Amazon. That’s $100 you get to keep in your pocket, and it’s a price that looks far more fitting. But Apple’s premium AirPods are known to get even steeper price cuts, dropping to $429 earlier this year and even all the way down to an affordable £342 using an Amazon loophole.
With every year that passes, the AirPods Max will undoubtedly get cheaper, but the best time to pick up a pair will always be around big sale events — and there is none bigger than Black Friday. (Just don’t expect any discounts on the $1,080 AirPods Max case by Gucci.)
AirPods Max are versatile — sort of
Over the past six months, I’ve been astounded by the high-fidelity audio quality and sublime comfort the AirPods Max offer. The ear cushions wrapped in the custom mesh textile are plush to the touch, and thanks to the knitted mesh along the head strap, the headphones are able to sit comfortably on my head for hours on end. And I mean that; Apple wasn’t lying about its 20-hour battery life.
When first taking them out of the box, I treated the AirPods Max as the premium pair of pricey headphones that they are. Using them exclusively indoors to jam to tunes while working, putting them in the (cruddy) Smart Case when not using them, and even hanging them on a Satechi 2-in-1 Headphone Stand made to charge (and show off) the AirPods Max. I mean, who would want any scuffs on a device that costs this much?
Eventually, however, I wanted to see what else I could use the AirPods Max for. Namely, workouts. Not just those intensive indoor HIIT sessions from Apple Fitness+; I tried these out during three-mile runs outdoors. I can already hear people shouting “but they don’t have an IP rating!” I know, I was playing a risky game.
But I wanted to hear the thumping beats with ANC turned on while powering through the last mile on my runs. The results? They are an absolute delight to wear. Not only could I freely control the volume and tunes I wanted to hear using the handy Digital Crown, but they stayed firm on my head despite the constant movement. Now, would I recommend using them for workouts? No. To put it bluntly, fabric and sweat don’t mix, and cleaning the ear cushions on a regular basis isn’t ideal. The point is, however, if you want to use these as your workout headphones, you can.
Sweat aside, I’ve also used the AirPods Max as my go-to headphones when traveling. My one gripe comes down to that dastardly Smart Case, which offers virtually no protection, and no one will want to carry it around like a purse. Instead, I’ve stored them in my laptop bag, and I love whipping them out during long train rides home to drown out the sound of a busy carriage.
Speaking of, I can attest that the ANC on the AirPods Max is wicked. Some of my trips abroad required sleeping in the same room as snorers, and that usually results in me not sleeping at all. Not with these cans on my head, though. While not completely eliminating each grunt and snort, it could still phase out the loudness of a snore, which meant I could actually get some shuteye.
The AirPods Max are, without a doubt, a premium pair of headphones, and any iPhone, iPad, and Mac user would be thrilled to have them. That price tag is a complete turn-off, though, and I wouldn’t recommend getting them at full price. The good news is you don’t have to, as Black Friday 2022 is the time to see that price fall to something more manageable.
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Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.