There are a finite number of Apple products one can review. If like me, you’re in this content creation game and you focus on that particular brand (or any brand, for that matter), you have to get creative.
That means covering the same product again, and again.
And then again, just for good measure.
Sometimes, it’s hard. There is, after all, only so much you can say about iPhones these days. They’ve reached an innovation ceiling and we all know what they’re capable of (even if we only use 30% of what those devices can do).
Then, there are products like AirPods Max – a ludicrously priced and frustratingly crippled pair of over-ear noise-cancelling headphones which I cannot stop writing and talking about.
My audience appears to be fascinated by them, too, and I’m aware that lots of you are still considering whether or not to pick up a pair. So, let’s ask that age-old question once again: should you buy AirPods Max in 2023?
Are AirPods Max worth it?
AirPods Max arrived in December 2020. Remember that time? It was when the world was in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, LadBaby grabbed the UK Christmas number one with Don’t Stop Me Eatin’, and Lewis Hamilton won his 7th F1 world championship.
Feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it? It also makes the AirPods Max over two years old.
That’s not ancient in headphone terms, to be fair, but the absence of an update after that time from Apple is usually a cause for concern. It means they either never planned to update AirPods Max after the first version, or the sales figures simply haven’t stacked up for Tim.
True to form, Apple hasn’t dropped the price of AirPods Max. Buy a pair direct from Apple today, and you’ll still pay £549. This makes them far more expensive than most competing headphones – all of which manage to beat them in terms of convenience and, often, sound quality.
AirPods Max can be purchased elsewhere for less, but I’ll avoid quoting any prices directly because they’re so volatile. Regardless, Apple’s headphones remain too expensive and, now, too long in the tooth to be worth buying in 2023. Sorry.
That leaves us with one question, doesn’t it?
Are we going to see AirPods Max 2?
I last wrote about this in September 2022 when I predicted a 2023 release date for an updated version of AirPods Max.
At the time of writing, I have no idea if that was a decent guess. A quick scour of the latest rumours for a pair of second-generation AirPods Max reveals a barren waste ground (this probably tells its own story). The only person who seems to be talking about them is analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who reckons we won’t see an update to Apple’s headphones until late next year or even 2025.
This is based on Kuo’s prediction that we’re in for a solid bunch of audio updates during that time, including a new HomePod mini and an update to the regular AirPods.
Despite this, I’m still giving Apple until the end of this year to do something. If they don’t, I fear it’s curtains for AirPods Max. If it extends beyond this year, they really do feel like a dead product.
Final thought: what does Apple need to do?
I’ve had time to digest my thoughts about a potential AirPods Max update and my list of requirements gets simpler each time.
Apple didn’t get it right with AirPods Max – it’s that simple. They’re an expensive, overly premium product that demands buyers be absolutely die-hard Apple fans with oodles of disposable income. Contrary to popular belief, there aren’t enough of those people – particularly in 2023.
Lightning charging, poor standby time battery stamina, and the most ludicrous take on a headphone case I’ve ever seen complete a package that has so many holes in it. Literally.
They could have been so good.
If Apple is going to update AirPods Max, they need to turn down the premium dial. Reduce the amount of stainless steel used. As nice as those telescoping arms are, replace them with something less expensive. Swap the intricate canopy for a more traditional headband. And, while you’re at it, swap Lightning for USB-C, add a proper zip case, give us a power switch, and bring the price in line with the competition.
Basically, turn them into a reasonably priced, normal pair of headphones, please. Putting the Beats brand to one side, this would finally provide Apple with a self-branded pair of over-ear headphones which could become as ubiquitous as their white earbuds.
This was one wheel that didn’t need reinventing.