Here's why I'm excited for the AirPods Max 2... even if Apple isn't

AirPods Max
(Image credit: Future)

Can you believe it’s been over three years since AirPods Max debuted? Shuffled onto the product line after a challenging year for just about everyone, and unveiled via press release rather than an event, the AirPods Max initially became the focus of conversation because of their $549 price.

Still, since then, I’ve started to see more of them around - professional athletes wear them as they head into arenas, tech aficionados (myself included) point to them as a must-buy for frequent flyers, and now I see them regularly at my local coffee shop.

And, after a few weeks without a pair, I’m more excited for the rumored AirPods Max 2 in 2024 than I am for any other Apple product — despite the reports that Apple is essentially putting the product out to pasture with a mere USB-C upgrade in tow. Here’s why my enthusiasm for the Max cans just can't be dimmed.

A peek behind the curtain 

AirPods Max

(Image credit: Future)

Working in media, as you can probably imagine, means handling a lot of review units. I was lucky enough to cover the AirPods Max at a few outlets, and as such, was able to use them for about two years.

Still, all good things must come to an end, and I dutifully packaged up my review pair and sent them back to Apple.

“It’ll be fine,” I said, putting the over-ear headphones into the box. “I’ve got my AirPods Pro.”

Reader, I am not fine. While I love my AirPods Pro 2 and use them daily when walking back from the school drop-off, or when working in the aforementioned coffee shop, I really do miss my AirPods Max to the point where the Black Friday deals were certainly tempting, but I was determined to hold out.

I’ve used a fair amount of mid-range headphones in my time, and some pricier ones, too. The AirPods Max, to me, represents the perfect middle ground between price and capability, and I’m not even an Apple Music user.

Movies sound great, podcasts are nicely balanced, and the company’s rival, Spotify, sounds fantastic. Having flown multiple times this year with them I can confidently say they’re my favorite way to drown out engine noise and, well, just about anything else.

What I miss most, though, is the comfort they bring on long days. Putting the AirPods Max on during a workday helped me focus, and while the AirPods Pro are a solid substitute, the in-ear nature of them makes them less comfortable when I’ve had them in for hours on end.

Bigger, better, badder

AirPods Max in different colors

(Image credit: Floating Pixels)

That’s not to say they’re perfect. The AirPods Max have plenty of flaws that I hope can be addressed with the next generation.

The easiest one is likely to be the almost certain switch to USB-C. I travel regularly for work, and being able to take just USB-C charging cables would be a huge result when bag space is limited - and might be the thing to nudge me to the USB-C AirPods Pro, too.

On the theme of power, I never had any issues with the battery life of the AirPods Max, but the lack of a power button was certainly a head-scratcher. I appreciate that you can just pop them on your head and ‘go’, and I acknowledge no other AirPods have it, but it always felt strange keeping them in a backpack in a ‘low-power’ state, presumably sipping battery while not doing anything.

That brings me to my final request for AirPods Max 2, or whatever they end up being called - make them foldable. I know, it’s a big ask - the look of the current version, for all of the thoughts mentioned above, is instantly recognizable.

Still, while they can lay flat and slip into the case, the lack of any folding capacity certainly means they take up more backpack space than I’d like. On the other hand, they always felt sturdy enough to be fairly haphazardly squashed inside, but I’d much rather have a design that retains the weightiness and just folds the cups inward like the Beats range offers.

And yet, despite this wishlist, I’d happily spend the $450 - $550 for them if they just switched to USB-C because I genuinely feel like I’m missing them more than I thought possible. Having taken them to multiple countries and continents, I’m not looking forward to traveling without them.

Lloyd Coombes
Contributor

Lloyd Coombes is a freelance writer with a specialism in Apple tech. From his first, hand-me-down iMac, he’s been working with Apple products for over a decade, and while he loves his iPhone and Mac, the iPad will always have his heart for reasons he still can’t quite fathom.

Since moving from blogging to writing professionally, Lloyd’s work can be found at TechRadar, Macworld, TechAdvisor and plenty more.

He’s also the Editor in Chief at GGRecon.com, and on the rare occasion he’s not writing you’ll find him spending time with his son, or working hard at the gym (while wearing an Apple Watch, naturally). You can find him on Twitter @lloydcoombes.

  • Captain NV
    I love my AirPod Max headphones. Hockey arenas are LOUD. I'm trying to protect my hearing. The noise cancelation on the Max is great, and it works great with my iphone. I also like them on aircraft. I also like the controls.
    Reply