AirPods Max Hidden Feature Hints at Customization Potential
It has been discovered that AirPods Max has a hidden feature allowing users to easily remove the headband with just a standard SIM card ejector tool, hinting at the possibility of interchanging headbands to achieve a unique look.
As mentioned in iFixit's teardown of AirPods Max, it is possible to easily remove the headband from AirPods Max without any disassembly of the headphones. Users simply need to remove the magnetic ear cushions, fold the earcups flat, and insert a SIM card ejector tool into a small hole above the speaker.
Here's the trick, and the best part: despite the joint's complexity, you can detach the entire headband from AirPods Max with just a SIM card removal tool or paperclip, without even opening the ear cup.
When fully assembled, a little poke in just the right place compresses two tiny springs inside the joint, freeing the clamp that secures the headband.
Once removed, the spokes on either side of the headband reveal a small lightning-style connector for transferring power, and potentially data, between the earcups.
Before being announced, it was speculated that AirPods Max would offer customizability with interchangeable headbands and earcups, repeating the concept behind Apple Watch bands. Amid significant delays, Bloomberg correctly predicted that Apple would drop the concept of a replaceable headband to accelerate production:
Apple has also scaled back some of the interchangeable functionality of the headphones that were a hallmark of the initial concept. The latest version of the product is likely to lack a replaceable headband, but could still include interchangeable ear pads.
It is therefore possible that this well-developed system for easily removing the headband is a remnant of the original, more modular approach to AirPods Max. On the other hand, this hidden feature may exist simply to aid repairability and could not be intended for general user interaction at all. Nevertheless, it is extremely unusual for headphones that transfer power over the headband to make the part so easily removable.
In December, MacRumors showed the large variety of AirPods Max ear cushion color combinations when it became clear that they were magnetically attached and available for sale separately. With the possibility of swapping headbands as well as the magnetic ear cushions, it seems that users may be able to heavily customize the look of their AirPods Max.
In light of this, it does not seem inconceivable that Apple could capitalize on the customizability built into AirPods Max at some point in the future much like it has done with the Apple Watch, with more options available at the point of purchase via an Apple Watch Studio-style webpage, or even alternate headbands being made available separately.