The Apple AirPods Max have finally been launched, having been the subject of rumor for quite some time now.
The first Apple over-ear headphones were quietly announced via a press release posted the Apple newsroom, and according to Apple, they boast "incredible high-fidelity audio, Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, and spatial audio", like the AirPods Pro..
They'll be available to buy from December 14 (though you can preorder them now), and will set you back AED 2,399 – far pricier than most of the best headphones on the market today.
Currently, the Sony WH-1000XM4 over-ear noise cancelling headphones are our top pick of the bunch, and audiophiles have plenty of alternatives to pick from. Spatial audio, automatic switching, and cool Siri features could separate it from the pack, and we know that Apple never does something by halves.
The Apple AirPods Max come with a minimalist-yet-luxurious design that's typical of the tech giant, with sleek lines and a stainless steel build - and they come in a range of stylish colors, including space gray, silver, sky blue, green, and pink.
The headband frame itself is made from stainless steel, with "telescoping headband arms" that can be extended so you can find a good fit.
Memory foam padded earcups should also help keep the AirPods Max comfortable during long listening sessions; these earcups are attached to the headband with a mechanism that "balances and distributes ear cup pressure, and allows it to independently pivot and rotate to fit the unique contours of a user’s head".
On-ear controls are minimal; interestingly, Apple has reprised the Digital Crown dial of the Apple Watch, which provides "precise volume control and the ability to play or pause audio, skip tracks, answer or end phone calls, and activate Siri".
The Apple AirPods Max feature "up to 20 hours of high-fidelity audio, talk time, or movie playback" – which wouldn't seem a huge amount if it wasn't with "Active Noise Cancellation enabled".
In terms of connectivity, these are wireless headphones, so there's no headphone jack to speak of that we can see. That's not surprising, though, given how much Apple has done to popularize wireless technology through its flagship smartphones, true wireless earbuds, and wireless charging pads. Still, it could put off hardcore audiophiles who prefer the fidelity of wired listening and don't want to pay for an additional adapter.
An Automatic Switching feature will enable users to easily switch between iPhone, iPad and Mac, when jumping between music listening and taking calls too, and one-tap setup will mean you can get started with your new cans pretty swiftly. You'll also be able to share audio between two sets of AirPods on pretty much any Apple source device – even Apple TV 4K or the iPod Touch.
As ever, Apple has included support for its smart assistant Siri too, meaning you can use voice commands to "play music, make phone calls, control the volume, get directions, and more. Siri can also read incoming messages as they arrive with Announce Messages with Siri."