Apple Prototyped Hundreds of AirPods Max Designs, Says Smart Case is Designed for Storage Efficiency
In a recent interview with Japanese website Casa BRUTUS, shared by Mac Otakara, Apple's VP of industrial design Evans Hankey, VP of product marketing Bob Borchers, and industrial designer Eugene Whang reflected on the new AirPods Max.
The interview is in Japanese, but with a translation, some key points can be gathered. For starters, Hankey said that Apple prototyped hundreds of AirPods Max designs over a lengthy development period, as the company worked to balance comfort and sound quality. Apple's design team conducted a significant amount of research on the shape of the headphones to ensure they are comfortable to wear while delivering a tight seal.
The interview also reveals that Apple tested touch controls for the AirPods Max, as exist on some over-ear headphones from competitors like Sony and Bose, but Apple ultimately settled with a larger version of the Apple Watch's Digital Crown, offering precise, tactile volume control. The headphones also have a noise control button for switching between Active Noise Cancellation and the more natural sounding Transparency mode.
AirPods Max come with a carrying case called the Smart Case, and many reviewers and customers have criticized the case's peculiar design. Whang, who apparently oversaw design of the case, said that while many headphones come with a large, cumbersome case, the Smart Case was designed to be storage efficient. Whang added that it was not necessary for the headband to be covered since it was built to be strong.
AirPods Max are designed with magnetically-attachable memory foam ear cushions, stainless steel telescoping arms, and a headband with a "breathable knit mesh" that distributes weight to reduce on-head pressure, according to Apple. Priced at $549, the over-ear headphones are available to order on Apple.com with a lengthy 12-14 week delivery estimate.