Apple is closing out 2020 with one more thing: AirPods Max. The new over-ear headphones are Apple's first non-earbuds AirPods to sport the eponymous branding.
Available in five colors, the AirPods Max comes with many features you get in AirPods Pro: active noise-cancellation, spatial audio, transparency mode, and intuitive pairing and switch with iOS and Macs thanks to its Apple H1 chip. AirPods Max also lasts up to 20 hours.
That's a lot of money — The hardest part to swallow is the hefty $549 sticker price. That's significantly more than class-leading noise-cancellation over-ear headphones like the $379 Bose 700 and $279 Sony WH-1000XM4.
Available December 15 — AirPods Max are available for pre-order starting today and launch just in time for Christmas on December 15.
Uhh... that's a butt – The AirPods Max comes with a special carrying case. I'm sorry, but why does it look like a clenched butt or a bra? Everyone's thinking it...
At the very least, the case does have some function other than protection: Apple says it puts the headphones into low-power mode.
There's a digital crown — The earcups themselves are crafted from metal with a stainless steel headband and mesh canopy that Apple says is for breathability and comfort. There's also a Digital Crown — lifted directly from the Apple Watch — for adjusting volume. Weird, but okay.
Charges with Lightning — We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you were hoping for USB-C, you're going to be disappointed because the AirPods Max charge with Lightning. There's no wireless charging whatsoever or MagSafe. So don't throw out all your Lightning cables just yet.
As for fast charging, a five-minute charge gives you up to 1.5 hours of listening time.
No charger in the box — Just like the iPhone 12s, there's no charger included with the headphones. Ludicrous, I know, but that's just the way things are now so get used to it. Also not included in the box: a 3.5mm to Lightning cable (an accessory that's usually included with most premium headphones); Apple will gladly sell you one for $35.
What's sound quality like? — We don't know how they compare to Bose or Sony's ANC headphones, but considering Apple's audio pursuits the last few years with HomePod and AirPods, it's probably safe to assume the 40mm drivers will be able to deliver good sound.
Here's what AirPods Max look like on humans: