AirPods Max 2: Release Date, Features, Price & Colors

The successor and second generation of the popular and only over-ear headphones produced by Apple — the AirPods Max 2 — is expected to hit the market later this year.

Rumors about the new AirPods Max 2 have been circulating online for the past year, picking up speed since Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg, said that the new AirPods Max would be released in late 2024.

While Apple has not given any official information on the headphones, Techopedia managed to put some pieces of this puzzle together based on AirPods Max 2 news, documents, and external sources.

New features are expected to include a USB-C charging port in the case and a range of colors.

Key Takeaways

  • Officially, Apple has not released any communications on the AirPods Max 2.
  • Based on analysis, sources, and investigation, specific changes for the AirPods Max 2, like new colors and the switch to a USB-C port, seem inevitable.
  • Patents also reveal that Apple could radically modify and replace the “Crown Dial” — the primary user control center on the AirPods Max —  for hand-gesture and touch-surface technology.
  • Whether Apple will upgrade the AirPods Max 2 with an H2 chip leans towards a “no-change H1 chip” scenario.
  • However, if Apple does decide to upgrade the chip for the new AirPods Max 2, the headphones could offer new features and better performance.

When Will AirPods Max 2 Come Out?

Release Date (Expected): Second Half 2024—First Half 2025

While there is no official confirmation of the AirPods Max 2 release date, it is expected that the AirPods Max 2 will be presented alongside the 2024 Apple new AirPods launch sometime between 2024 and 2025.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that the new AirPods Max and new AirPods will likely begin global shipment in the second half of 2024 or the first half of 2025.

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Analyst Jeff Pu also confirms he is expecting a late 2024 launch window, with USB-C as the major new feature.

He says Luxshare ICT and Hon Teng in China will assemble the AirPods Max. Luxshare is a key supplier of the Apple supply chain and has assembled several Apple products, including the iPhone, Apple Watch, and the new Vision Pro.

Many technology products today have been impacted by supply chain squeezes and deficits of key components like chips, so any pushback could delay the launch of the AirPods Max 2 to 2025.

When Techopedia asked an Apple employee in-store, they replied:

“We’ve heard the rumors that there is a new one [AirPods Max] coming, but nothing official.”

What 1st Gen Issues Do the AirPods Max 2 Aim to Fix?

The AirPods Max are marketed as premium headphones with a hefty price tag of $549. However, the poor carrying case has been widely criticized for its design and lack of functionality, offering minimal protection and failing to cover the headband. This leaves users wanting a more practical solution without splurging further on aftermarket options.

Additionally, excluding a standard audio cable for wired listening on an airline’s entertainment systems for the dreaded red-eye flights adds another layer of inconvenience. There is also the inconvenient truth that the first version of the AirPods Max over-ear headphones is ridiculously heavy and quickly becomes uncomfortable when worn for several hours.

Finally, the reliance on a proprietary Lightning connector instead of the universal USB-C is already dating the first version. These are a few obvious examples that could dramatically improve the user experience in future iterations of Apple’s AirPods Max.

So, what can we expect from AirPods Max 2?

AirPods Max 2 Tech, Specs, & Features

The USB-C Connector

One thing is certain: to comply with European Union laws, the new AirPods Max 2 will need to have a USB-C connector instead of a Lightning-based connector, designed to give users in Europe the possibility for all mobile devices to be charged with a single charger — specifically USB Type-C port.

But this is not the only change, and patents filed by Apple hint at something else.

Will Gesture and Touch-Surface Replace the Crown Dial?

The first and only AirPods Max — released in December 2020 — could be radically changed if a patent discovered by Patently Apple moves from concept to reality for the upcoming Max 2.

The original AirPods Max had a ‘Digital Crown’ as the main control center, an Apple concept that is also key in the design of the Apple Watch.

The original AirPod’s digital crown. (Apple)
The original AirPod’s digital crown. (Apple)

In the original AirPods Max 2, the digital crown is turned and pressed like a button to do all kinds of actions like playing or stopping music, unmuting users on calls, ending calls or skipping through songs, and controlling the volume.

However, the Apple patent application number 20220038820 shows that the company may have been working on replacing the digital crown in the new AirPods Max 2 with touch and gesture technology.

The patent reveals a technology that uses several components to deliver gesture processing and touch-sensitive surfaces. If this patent is applied to the AirPods Max 2, the headset will have a touch-sensitive surface, sensors, at least one processor, memory storage, and new software.

Users could simply make gestures or tap on a specific surface to do all kinds of things, from summoning Siri to turning up the volume or ignoring a call.

Will this technology come to the AirPod Max 2? We don’t know. However, because this is a 2022 patent, Apple has had the time to develop this into their future product range.

Hopefully, an H2 Chip

The current generation of AirPods Max is powered by dual H1 chips, with one chip housed in each ear cup. This setup contrasts with Apple’s subsequent adoption of the H2 chip in the second generation of the AirPods Pro. The H2 chip is recognized for significantly improving audio processing, energy efficiency, and overall performance.

As anticipation grows, many are debating online whether Apple will incorporate the H2 chip into its next iteration of the AirPods Max. While the consensus among most tech reporters leans towards the absence of the H2 chip in the new model, there’s a notable argument that excluding this advancement could be considered a misstep.

This perspective is shared by some in the tech community, underscoring the potential missed opportunity for enhancing user experience and device performance.

Integrating the H2 chip into the AirPods Max 2 could elevate the device’s capabilities, aligning it with the latest technological standards set by its in-ear counterparts. This upgrade would be an attractive technical enhancement and a strategic move to maintain consistency across Apple’s range of audio products.

Apple AirPods Max houses two H1 chips in each ear section. (Apple)
Apple AirPods Max houses two H1 chips in each ear section. (Apple)

The AirPods Max 2 is going to need H2 if it is going to be comparable with its smaller AirPods Pro siblings, including:

  • Adaptive Noise Control: Creates a blend between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode. This feature allows the users to remain immersed in their music but still be aware of changing sounds happening in the world around them.
  • Personalized Volume: Another feature made possible thanks to the H2 Chip. This feature allows AirPods users to tweak the media volume based on environmental conditions and volume preferences. Interestingly, the technology can learn a user’s listening preference to better fine-tune settings depending on the situation.
  • Conversational Awareness: This H2-driven feature detects when a user is talking to someone while wearing AirPods. It automatically lowers the volume seamlessly and enhances the voices in front of the user. When the tech detects the conversation is over, it automatically turns up the volume and returns to set noise control settings.

Other feature enhancements that the H2 can optimize include Spatial Audio, which the AirPods Max already offers thanks to tiny gyroscopes and sensors that feed into a dynamic head-tracking system to adapt sound.

While it is evident that a chip enhancement would benefit users, Apple is keeping its chips close to its chest.

Analyzing Apple’s “New Color” Strategy for the AirPods Max 2

There is no lower cost strategy when introducing new generation tech models than throwing in a couple of new colors.

Apple’s “New Color” Strategy for the AirPods Max 2
Source: MacRumors

Adding new colors to a technology product requires no interior engineer restructuring or interior component changes. Additionally, when color variations hit the right spot, they can become very popular among users and drive sales. Apple has turned to this strategy over and over again, for example, for the launch of its iPhone 15 and 15 Plus, the launch of its iPhone 14 and 14 Plus, the Apple Watch, Mac computers, and many more products.

Considering the historical “new-color” business strategy that Apple has repeatedly applied, the probability that the new AirPods Max 2 colors and new colors for accessories are rolled out is high.

The New AirPods Max 2 Case

If there is one thing users have complained about the AirPods Max, it is its case. Complaints about the case range from its aesthetic design to the fact that it does not house the entire headset (and therefore does not fully protect the headphones) and issues related to battery charging.

A slightly revealing case does not fully protect the original AirPods Max. (Apple)
A slightly revealing case does not fully protect the original AirPods Max. (Apple)

Conversely, AirPods Pro fans love that their AirPods and the case are dust, sweat, and water-resistant. However, the AirPods Max 2 does not offer these protections.

Rebuilding the Max 2 headset to be water and dust-resistant would require a significant and costly change in design. However, if Apple had been listening to user feedback and decided to update the case, making it more like the classic AirPods Case would have made many people happy.

What Will the Battery Life of the AirPods Max 2 Be?

Compared to the AirPods 3rd generation, which has 30 hours of listening time, and the AirPods 2nd generation, which exceeds 24 hours of listening time, the 20-hour battery life of the AirPods Max is not that impressive.

One reason new AirPods have longer battery lives is that the H2 Chip uses computational algorithms to deliver efficient battery life. While the AirPods Max has two H1 chips, it still cannot offer the battery performance that H2 chips offer.

Naturally, if the Apple Max 2 comes with the H2 chip, its battery life would dramatically increase.

However, there are other ways besides enhanced processors to increase battery life when releasing the next generation of products — even simply by adding more battery if necessary.

The Price of the AirPods Max 2

Estimated Price: $449 – $549

Currently, Apple sells the AirPods Max for $549, a hefty price compared to the $169 that the AirPods 3rd generation costs. For several reasons, such as the components and size of the product, the AirPods Max 2 price will be higher than any AirPod.

But the price for the new Apple over-ear headphones could go slightly down. For the past years, Apple has also been producing low-entry (cheap versions) of iconic product lineups to attract new customers and markets, with success.

For example, as Bloomberg reported in September 2023, this strategy works well for Apple, with sales of its cheapest iPhone 15 hitting high demand.

Additionally, Apple has used a low-price strategy to boost sales for the AirPods Max on numerous occasions. As Yahoo reported in 2022, Apple offered them under a promotional price of $449, and as Variety reported in 2023, Apple offered the same promotional price for the AirPods Max.

This series of AirPods Max promotional price campaigns has led several experts to suggest that the new AirPods Max 2 could be cheaper than its first-generation model.

However, as AirPods Max sales were consistent despite its hefty $549 price tag, a low-cost AirPods Max 2 sounds more than unlikely. Media, including Sound Guys, reports that Apple has kept the price the same for its first and second-generation AirPods Pro, “…so it would make sense for the first and second-gen AirPods Max to share the same price, too.”

This does not rule out the chance for future “promotional price” campaigns for the Apple AirPods Max 2.

The New AirPods Max 2: Bridging Expectations with Reality

Before getting too excited with the latest rumors and speculation surrounding the AirPods Max 2, you should consider reigning in your excitement to avoid disappointment. Those more grounded in their predictions believe that AirPods Max could debut alongside the iPhone 16 in September. While transitioning to a USB-C port is a step toward universal charging compatibility, it’s crucial to note that significant leaps in technology, such as Adaptive Audio, might not materialize with this release.

Many believe the AirPods Max 2 will keep the H1 chip after all. This suggests that this innovative feature, which fine-tunes sounds based on external noise levels, will likely remain exclusive to the second-generation AirPods Pro.

The absence of such a feature in the upcoming AirPods Max 2 could be seen as a missed opportunity for enhancement, but it’s essential to recognize the strategy at play. Apple appears to prioritize consistency and satisfaction with the existing AirPods Max specifications, opting for a more conservative update.

While some may long for the cutting-edge experience Adaptive Audio promises, Apple’s decision suggests a broader satisfaction with the current performance and market position of the AirPods Max. While a change in port type and potential new color options hint at a nod to consumer desires, the AirPods Max’s core experience could remain unchanged.

The Bottom Line

Like most Apple products, the development and design of the AirPods Max 2 is concealed behind meticulous secrecy. Officially, only those working on the project know exactly what the new headphones look like and what they can do. What happens at Apple’s HQ in Cupertino stays in Cupertino.

However, several changes seem inevitable, including a USB-C charger, a consistent price strategy, and new accessories colors.

If Apple takes the jump and replaces the H1 with H2 chips, the new Max 2 could bring significant upgrades, including longer battery life and existing features for AirPods users, such as Adaptive Noise Control, Personalised Volume, and Conversational Awareness.

Whether or not Apple will change the AirPods Max case is unknown, but if they do, it would be an essential enhancement that would please its users.

Finally, Apple may also surprise everyone by presenting new technology for the Max 2 that benefits users with gestures and touch surface innovation.

The final official word on all these upgrades will come when Apple decides to launch the AirPods Max 2. Until then, Apple fans and everyone else will have to wait.

FAQs

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Ray Fernandez
Senior Technology Journalist

Ray is an independent journalist with 15 years of experience, focusing on the intersection of technology with various aspects of life and society. He joined Techopedia in 2023 after publishing in numerous media, including Microsoft, TechRepublic, Moonlock, Hackermoon, VentureBeat, Entrepreneur, and ServerWatch. He holds a degree in Journalism from Oxford Distance Learning, and two specializations from FUNIBER in Environmental Science and Oceanography. When Ray is not working, you can find him making music, playing sports, and traveling with his wife and three kids.