AirPods Max Missing Rumored Features: $350 'Sport' Model, Swappable Bands, Touch Controls
Earlier in the year, a report from Bloomberg said that AirPods Max, thought at the time to be called "AirPods Studio," had suffered several development challenges leading to multiple delays and scaling back of functionality. The product failed to appear at any of the most recent three Apple events despite a plethora of rumors about the product.
In September, the design of AirPods Max leaked in a video, indicating that the launch was likely to be soon. The headphones were meant to go into production in mid-2020, but production was pushed back due to development issues, such as problems with the headband, which was found to be too tight during testing.
It was believed that AirPods Max would offer unique customizability with interchangeable headbands and earcups, repeating the concept behind Apple Watch bands. Amid these delays and frustrations, Bloomberg correctly predicted that Apple would drop the concept of a replaceable headband to accelerate production.
In addition, it was believed that AirPods Max would have touch pads for controls on the sides of the headphones. This appears to have been replaced by the Digital Crown from the Apple Watch in the final product.
After the announcement of AirPods Max earlier today, Mark Gurman mused on the fact that Apple had dropped a large number of features to get the product released at long last.
Looks like they made some changes on these to get them out the door as was deemed likely after several development set backs over the past many months — not seeing swappable bands, and Apple Watch Digital Crown instead of touch panels, and left and right sides aren’t reversible. — Mark Gurman (@markgurman) December 8, 2020
Other rumors about Apple's over-ear headphones also failed to come to fruition. Mixed-record leaker Jon Prosser repeatedly said that AirPods Max would come in a "sport-like variant" for $350 and a "luxury variant" for $599. While Prosser's $599 was not far off the final $549 price tag, the cheaper $350 "sport variant" has yet to emerge.
9to5Mac also incorrectly claimed that AirPods Max would have a "neck detection" feature and adaptive audio channels for switching between the right and left side, allowing users to use the headphones either way around.
Last week, MacRumors correctly predicted that Apple would announce a new product today using an AppleCare-related internal memo. With AirPods Max finally announced, it is possible that Apple may look to revisit some of these rumored features for a second iteration of the product, or shelve them entirely.