AirPods Max first impressions: Impressive build, ridiculous case

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AirPods Max first impressions: $549? Almost too cheap (apparently).
$549? Almost too cheap (apparently).
Photo: Marques Brownlee

The “first impressions” reviews of the AirPods Max are out, and, well, they’re pretty darn good.

From the high-quality sound to the stainless steel and other luxury materials to the neat use of magnets to connect the ear pads, the consensus is that the AirPods Max are a premium product in (almost) every way.

As for that wallet-damaging $549 price tag? “Judging from materials execution alone, the AirPod Max feels like it should be more expensive if anything,” says TechCrunch‘s Matthew Panzarino. Check out some of the other initial thoughts below.

There really isn’t much negative to say about the AirPods Max themselves. The sound quality is reportedly strong, with Apple’s spatially aware audio and noise-canceling tech built in. Siri is one Digital Crown tap away, and the headphones themselves are of strong build quality.

One interesting note is that the lack of foldability and the use of netting material in the headpiece make the headphones generally unsuited for travel or portability. That’s not too much of an issue for many in these COVID-19 times. But if you’re looking for cans that you can fold up and carry with you on your commute, you might want to think again.

People hate the AirPods Max case

If there’s a negative to the headphones so far, it appears to be the widely ridiculed Smart Case, which looks halfway between a tiny handbag and a bra. Marques Brownlee notes that, as cases go, this one’s a bit strange. Not just because it looks weird, but also because it doesn’t really protect your AirPods Max — and remains the only way to power them down. (They don’t even switch off entirely; they just go into a low-power mode.)

Here’s The Verge on the AirPods Max case:

“I have no idea what’s going on with the AirPods Max case, which is a goofy one-piece contraption that’s folded and glued over on itself to form a case. It looks very much like a purse when wrapped around the headphones, which is at once fun and clever and also not the point of a headphones case that needs to survive in a backpack. It does not appear very protective, feels like it will get dirty fast, and generally does not hold a candle to the nice hard cases that come with almost every other set of premium headphones. [The case] is one of the cheaper-feeling things Apple has ever made, in my estimation.”

And here’s TechCrunch again:

[T]he case is just as ridiculous as it looks. Sorry. The construction here is just as dodgy as the MagSafe Duo. It feels cheap, and like it will dirty easily, not exactly what you want from a ‘travel case’. And it looks like a butt.”

Full AirPods Max reviews coming soon

The full reviews will no doubt appear imminently, but — for now — these first impressions do just enough to get us excited. Not that most of us will be able to get our hands (or ears) on the AirPods Max anytime soon. Shipping times slipped soon after Apple unveiled the headphones Tuesday, and it seems likely that these won’t be available readily for a good while.

Are you planning to get some AirPods Max headphones? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.