Apple’s first set of wireless headphones — the AirPods Max — launched to great fanfare in 2020. At $549, the aluminum-clad cans raised eyebrows for his or her price and design. But despite their cost and a few odd design decisions (like the dearth of an off switch), reviewers were nearly unanimous with their praise, especially for the Max’s standout features, lively noise cancellation (ANC), and transparency mode. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely.
Will we actually know anything in regards to the AirPods Max 2? No, we don’t. Provided that the unique AirPods Max are greater than two years old, we’d have expected at the least some hints at this point, if not full-on leaks. But up to now all we’ve got are crickets.
That might mean just a few things. It may very well be that there’s nothing to know. Perhaps the OG AirPods Max are all that there will likely be, like how the unique HomePod turned out to be a one-off. Or it could mean that Apple has upped its secrecy and security game, and it’s just that nothing is leaking.
Or perhaps it implies that the AirPods Max are on an extended refresh cycle than the opposite AirPods. Or that we’re just in between, and so there’s nothing yet to know.
Regardless, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to discuss. Here’s what we expect may very well be on the horizon if and when things are updated.
A special case
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There’s lots to love on the subject of the AirPods Max, but most people appear to agree: the included travel case is terrible. Possibly it’s that it barely protects the earcups and offers zero coverage for that fancy (and comfortable) headband. Or perhaps it’s that you would be able to’t power down the headphones unless you set them within the case. The underside line is that Apple’s case — which has earned itself the slightly unflattering nickname “the bra” on account of its double-cup shape — needs a serious rethink.
Every high-end set of wireless cans we are able to consider, from the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 to the Sony WH-1000XM5, include a totally protective, contoured and zippered travel case. And we don’t see why the AirPods Max must be the exception. This worst-case scenario must be a simple win for Apple on the AirPods Max 2.
Not to place too blunt some extent on it, but Apple needs to repair that case. Full stop.
Lose a little bit weight
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Is it possible for a set of headphones to be each incredibly heavy and surprisingly comfortable? Until the AirPods Max, we’d have said no. Still, there’s no denying that despite weighing in at 13.6 ounces (much more massive than the WH-1000XM5’s 8.8 ounces), Apple’s cans are really cozy. Not so cozy, nevertheless, that you would be able to wear them for hours without fatigue. After some time, that weight — again, they’re nearly a full pound — does start to tug you down.
It’ll be a challenge to shave ounces if Apple sticks with its aluminum and steel materials, but it surely must try. What’s the purpose of getting class-leading lively noise cancellation if you happen to just need to rip the headphones off your head two hours into your flight? Apple is a master of materials and design, so now we have faith that the AirPods Max 2 can tilt the scales at 10 ounces or less without sacrificing an oz of luxe.
Fix that sound
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Here’s the thing in regards to the AirPods Max. They sound great. But they’re being held back by a baffling decision on Apple’s part.
If you happen to’re a fan of hi-res audio — the sort of sound quality that we expect of as better-than-CD-quality — Apple has loads of lossless, hi-res tracks on Apple Music in as much as 24-bit/192kHz. There’s no approach to transmit this full, lossless quality to a set of wireless headphones using existing Bluetooth codecs, so wireless headphones typically include an analog cable that enables you to pipe that ultra-high-quality sound from a compatible phone or a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) directly into your cans.
The AirPods Max have an analog cable option (which for a whopping $35), but it surely doesn’t send an analog signal on to the drivers. As a substitute, Apple’s cable takes the analog signal and converts it to digital, but at a lower quality level than true hi-res lossless. There’s currently no way around this limitation.
So we’re hoping that on the very least Apple provides a cable connection that may transmit unprocessed digital audio from a phone or computer to the AirPods Max 2. In a super world, a similarly high-quality path would exist for analog signals, too.
Set a latest wireless audio standard
A greater cable solution would go a protracted approach to giving the AirPods Max 2 the sort of sound quality its predecessor lacked — but why stop there? As a set of wireless headphones, the AirPods Max 2 shouldn’t be tethered if it may well be avoided, and Apple is perfectly positioned to revolutionize how wireless audio works.
Bluetooth is restricted so far as audio quality goes. Even the most recent advances from Qualcomm, which offer lossless CD quality via Snapdragon Sound, can’t rise to the extent of lossless hi-res audio. It simply doesn’t have enough bandwidth.
Nevertheless, ultra-wideband (UWB) does have enough bandwidth — tons of it, in reality — and it’s designed to deliver that bandwidth over very short distances, with very low latency, and really low power consumption. Better of all: Apple already has loads of experience with UWB — every iPhone because the iPhone 11 has possessed a UWB radio, and Apple’s UWB-based U1 chips now reside in products just like the AirTag and the charging case for the second-gen AirPods Pro.
Granted, to date Apple has only been using UWB for its spatially-sensitive locating capabilities, but we all know that the technology can do much more. Let’s hope that Apple makes the AirPods Max 2 the primary wireless headphones that eliminate the compromises in sound quality inherent in Bluetooth devices.
Ditch the Lightning port
This one’s a no brainer. Apple already has began using UBS-C on the iPad, and the European Union has issued latest rules that may force Apple to convert the iPhone to USB-C within the near future.
The writing is on the wall: Lightning has to go, and we expect it’s all but guaranteed that the AirPods Max 2 will include USB-C, not Lightning, for your entire charging and wired audio needs.
MagSafe to the max?
Speaking of charging, it’s possible that Apple might discover a approach to add its MagSafe wireless charging tech to the AirPods Max 2. Apple was in a position to achieve this on the iPhone in addition to the charging cases for the third-gen AirPods and second-gen AirPods Pro, however the AirPods Max 2 could pose a tougher challenge. MagSafe needs a metal ring to perform the “mag” a part of its duties, however the actual wireless charging doesn’t work well through metals like aluminum. And because the current AirPods Max are almost entirely aluminum on any surface that may be sufficiently big for a MagSafe connection, it’s hard to see how that may work.
Still, Apple has been known to put plastic inserts inside its aluminum cases when it must. We could see Apple integrating a discreet, circular plastic insert on one among the earcups of the AirPods Max 2 — possibly with an Apple logo — to enable this feature.
More colours, longer battery life
Finally, no Apple product update can be complete without some improvements to the fundamentals. The AirPods Max currently are available in five colours: space gray, pink, green, silver, and sky blue. But Apple has a protracted history of adding additional colours to its products over time, and it wouldn’t surprise us to see the AirPods Max 2 are available in some latest clothing options, perhaps syncing up with the Apple Watch 8’s schemes: starlight, black, and product(Red).
On the subject of battery life and wireless products, more is all the time higher. That’s a truism that Apple has had a habit of ignoring through the years, and it’s fair to say that although the AirPods Max’s 20-hour battery life isn’t the worst within the wireless headphone world, it’s very near the underside.
Do you absolutely need greater than 20 hours? Possibly not on a day-to-day basis, but if you happen to’re a frequent traveler chances are you’ll not end up near an influence outlet whenever you need one. Having a little bit extra wiggle room can be really helpful, so here’s hoping the AirPods Max 2 get a lift in the facility department. Though more battery capability normally means increased weight, which is something we definitely don’t need to see more of on the AirPods Max.
AirPods Max 2 pricing, availability
As we said on the outset, there’s been almost no buzz in regards to the next generation of the AirPods Max. Some observers even query whether Apple will proceed to make their most costly headphones. Apple doesn’t publish sales numbers for the AirPods family, so it’s hard to say if the Max have been doing well.
But when Apple does indeed create a sequel to the AirPods Max, and if history is any guide, it’s likely that Apple will announce it across the time of the product’s third anniversary — December 2023 — or possibly in the autumn of 2023 to coincide with the following iPhone.
Apple tends to maintain pricing static on its generational improvements so long as it isn’t introducing a significant change, so we expect that it should keep the AirPods Max 2 at the present price of $549. When the AirPods Max initially debuted, that number was shockingly expensive. But since then, we’ve seen several latest wireless headphones eclipse that price, including the $699 Bowers & Wilkins Px8, $599 Master & Dynamic MW75, $999 Mark Levinson No. 5909, and $800 Focal Bathys, which not only make the AirPods Max appear to be less of an outlier, it also reduced the pressure on Apple to sell the AirPods Max 2 for any less.
So there you’ve gotten it: our crystal ball set of hopes and dreams for the AirPods Max 2, a set of headphones that Apple is probably going going to announce, even when we are able to’t say exactly when. As soon as we get something more concrete to go on, we’ll be back with an update.