AirPods Max teardown finds mystery chips, screwy screws and impressive engineering

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iFixit AirPods Max teardown finds much to like
An AirPods Max Teardown wouldn’t be complete without an X-ray of Apple’s new over-the-ears headphones.
Photo: iFixit

iFixit took a deep dive into AirPods Max, fully disassembling Apple’s over-the-ear headphones. What they found in the teardown was a startling number of different types of screws. But also a craftsmanship that helps justify the hefty price tag.

“And after tearing down some of the competition, we’re more understanding of that $550 price tag,” said iFixit. “Sony and Bose both charge less, but internally, the AirPods Max’s obsessive craftsmanship makes those other extremely capable devices look like toys by comparison.”

AirPods Max teardown finds much to like

These headphones a 6 out of 10 for repairability. For comparison, AirPods and AirPods Pro scored a 0. The new hearable got props for easily detachable ear cushions and headband. And “drivers and battery are secured with screws and use repair-friendly board connections,” notes iFixit.

But the repair company remarked, “the sheer number of screw types here is baffling.” And the earcups are kept closed with adhesives.

There’s a logic board in both earcups with so many chips that iFixit had to crowdsource all the silicon. And even then not every chip was fully identified.

Still, the AirPods Max teardown also turned up 8 microphones for active noise cancellation. And Bluetooth 5.0, plus a pair of 40mm dynamic drivers. And completely dissembling the product found just one Apple logo, under one of the removable ear cushions.

This process doesn’t say anything about audio quality, of course. That’s not what a teardown is for. But in Cult of Mac’s AirPods Max review, Lewis Wallace said these over-the-ear headphones “deliver sizzling, energetic sound.” And he called the noise cancellation “rock-solid.”