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iOS 16 beta includes a major AirPods Max audio and battery upgrade

Airpods Max Side
Airpods Max Side (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

What you need to know

  • iOs 16 includes a big audio upgrade for Apple's AirPods Max.
  • One user has discovered a new LC3 Bluetooth codec.
  • The new codec is more efficient, has lower latency, and uses less power than previous codecs.

A new LC3 codec for AirPods Max discovered in the iOS 16 beta could pave the way for improvements to battery life and audio quality.

As noted by ShrimpApplePro, one user on the iOS 16 beta has found a new LC3 audio codec that can be enabled to improve the audio quality of Apple's AirPods Max. Twitter user George who found the feature apparently reported a marked improvement in audio quality, but ShrimpApplePro notes this is probably being limited by the current AirPods Max SiP, and could stand to benefit more from future AirPods Pro models with better hardware.

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The LC3 is a newish low-power Bluetooth audio codec. The LC3 codec is more efficient while using less power and having lower latency compared to the current codec. It works at lots of different bitrates so can be added to any Bluetooth audio profile, so companies like Apple can leverage it to get more battery life and better audio out of wireless audio devices. According to Bluetooth Lc3 provides much higher quality at the same data rates as SBC or better quality at much lower data rates.

If Apple has added this to iOS 16 for use in the future it will be a welcome upgrade for its AirPods Max customers, vastly increasing audio fidelity and performance while also improving battery life on its premium headphones.

Sadly, this isn't the jump we need to get wireless lossless audio for the highest-quality Apple Music experience, but it is a big jump. Qualcomm claims to have developed Bluetooth technology that does support lossless audio, but this is a way off the consumer market just now.

Stephen Warwick
Stephen Warwick

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.