Redesigned AirPods Max Smart Case Potentially Revealed in Apple Patent
When Apple unveiled its $549 high-end AirPods Max headphones last year, the included Smart Case stirred up plenty of online chatter for its odd appearance and poor overall protection when compared to the traditional hard cases that come with other premium headphones.
Apple's much-lampooned case birthed an avalanche of memes, which have irreverently compared it to all sorts of things, from handbags to lingerie, and even body parts. The mixed reception has led many to wonder if Apple will rethink its design in future models, and a newly approved patent may offer a possible idea of where Apple could take things next.
Filed by Apple in June 2017 and approved today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the patent summarizes various implementations of "Enclosures with flexible magnetic closures and clasps," but the accompanying "merely illustrative" images leave the reader in little doubt about the specific use case Apple has in mind.
In its example for a headphones case, the patent describes a full-coverage two-part housing that opens and closes via a pair of magnetic "mating strips" that run along the seam, and a magnetic clasp at the top. Meanwhile inside, a separator divides a pair of headphone earcups, while a headband can be seen arching over the separator.
The images offer a top and side view of the headphone case, along with a perspective view, and they all look like a much more traditional design compared to the current one-piece folded-over design, which left some reviewers feeling that Apple de-prioritised function in its pursuit of iconic fashion.
As with all patents, this one could well come to nothing, but Apple may well be planning a new version of AirPods Max for the company to include features that it reportedly had to leave out because of development challenges and production issues.
Early rumors indicated the headphones would feature interchangeable headbands, touch pads for controls, and no specific left and right orientation, but these features did not make it into the final product.
It's possible that a future version of the AirPods Max will include the functionality that was left out of the first launch version, but all we know so far is that additional color options are in the works for a future launch.