AirPods Max are a costly set of cans at $899

Apple wants you to lend them your ears, perhaps literally at this price.
AirPods Pro Max - Lifestyle shot

After the iPhone 12 event came and went, we genuinely thought we’d seen everything Apple had to offer in 2020. But in the true spirit of the year full of (mostly nasty) surprises, Apple rounded out the year by revealing ‘one more thing,’ a costly pair of wireless over-ear headphones, the Apple AirPods Pro Max. The wireless over-ear AirPods iteration will set Australians back $899 when they begin shipping on Tuesday, the 15th of December.

Apple AirPods Pro Max Magic Case
Apple AirPods Max “Magic Case”

The Apple AirPods Pro earbuds have some of the best noise-cancelling money in the true wireless earbud market, so we’re interested to see how that technology translates in the over-ear market, a category with better-established active noise-cancelling. Apple claims the AirPods Max will last about 20 hours with Active Noise Cancelling enabled. Sony claims its market-leading WH-1000XM4 headphones last about 30 hours. But with noise-cancelling switched on, the overall battery life of the WH-1000XM4 is a lot closer to what Apple is advertising.

The design isn’t far off from the renders produced by renowned Apple leakers. It features a “breathable knit mesh canopy” headband supported by a stainless steel frame, ear cushions made from memory foam, and a “digital crown” (the same dial featured on Apple Watch devices).

Apple AirPods Pro Max - Red
Apple AirPods Max in Red

The design isn’t far off from the renders produced by renowned Apple leakers. It features a and a “breathable knit mesh canopy” headband supported by a stainless steel frame, ear cushions made from memory foam, and a “digital crown” (the same dial featured on Apple Watch devices).

There are a few other nifty features that Apple is spruiking, such as spatial audio, “dynamic head tracking” that uses the gyroscope and accelerometer to deliver an “immersive, theatre-like experience for content recorded in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos.”

The AirPods Max headphones also include a Transparency Mode that balances audio playback, environmental sounds, and conversation, that feeds in external sounds naturally without impacting whatever is playing through the headphones. In our experience, past attempts at transparency modes have been a little weak, so we’re interested to see how the Apple AirPod Pro Max’s H1 processing chip handles this feature.

Apple AirPods Pro Max and iPhone 12
Apple AirPods Max and iPhone 12

 

The biggest question we have is how friendly the AirPods Max will be across non-Apple devices. Apple claims the user-experience will be seamless across iPhone, iPad, and Mac, but whether that’s also true of a user rocking an iPhone and a PC laptop is yet to be seen.

Like everything else Apple has released this year, the Apple AirPods Max have been the world’s worst kept secret. Huawei, a brand known for copying Apple’s homework, even managed to beat the Cupertino kid at its own game when it released the Huawei FreeBuds Studio headphones earlier this year (at a more palatable price of $499).

The Apple AirPods Max go on sale on the 15th of December at $899 in Australia