Apple Airpods Max ExplodedSource: Apple

While we haven't yet seen any official reviews of Apple's new AirPods Max, we do have plenty of early impressions videos and articles to enjoy and, so far, things are looking promising. Audio quality is proving to be more impressive than most of us dare hope and the ANC works just as well as the leading competition.

But actually deciding what that competition is, is proving a problem. Because as much as everyone seems to be desperate to compare AirPods Max with something, there isn't actually anything to directly compare them with.

The most obvious comparison, and the one I'm seeing the most, is with the hugely popular Sony WH-1000XM4. I use the older Sony WH-1000XM3 and they're wonderful. But these things sell for around $250 less than the $549 AirPods Max. And you can see where those comparisons are already going.

"Why buy AirPods Max when you can buy the Sonys for $250 less?"

That's a fair question. And, so far, it seems to be where the conversation ends – especially if you look on social media. But to compare AirPods Max and the Sonys – I'm not going to type out that product name each time! – without mentioning the former's killer feature is like comparing a Tesla Model 3 with a Chevy Bolt without talking about the self-driving tech.

That killer feature is, of course, the pair of H1 chips inside AirPods Max. And people seem to be forgetting they're there or, specifically, what they mean.

They mean instant pairing with iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watches, and Apple TVs. They mean instant device switching. They mean improved range and more reliable connections. They mean lower latency than traditional Bluetooth connections. They mean hands-free "Hey Siri" and message announcements. There might be more, but I've made my point.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Canceling HeadphonesSource: Sony

If AirPods Max really can match the Sonys on audio quality, microphone performance, longevity, etc, the question shouldn't be whether you should save the $250 and get the WH-1000XM4s. It should be whether the H1 chips and all their magic are worth the extra $250. For me, it might be but I haven't decided yet. For others, not so much. For anyone using a Windows PC and Android and set to miss out on the benefits of the H1s, absolutely not.

If you're looking at the AirPods Max and comparing them with other headphones and ignoring H1's capabilities, you're missing the point. Especially when there are plenty of other reasons to bash Apple's new headphones – like that case. And the fact they don't fold. And that case.

Oh, and the fact you can't get any for three months.

Turns out someone's buying them after all.

All the H1s

Apple Airpods Max Listening Experience

AirPods Max

High-fidelity audio

You can purchase a pair of AirPods Max in five different colors, space gray, silver, green, sky blue, and pink.

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