AirPods Max Announced Three Years Ago Today

Apple's AirPods Max were announced three years ago today, marking the company's first push into the high-end over-ear headphones market under its own brand name.

AirPods Max 3 Years Feature 1 Red
Rumors about Apple's work on a pair of high-end headphones, at the time believed to be called the "AirPods Studio," heated up throughout 2020. They were announced abruptly via a somewhat unexpected press release on December 8, 2020 and went on sale the same day. Orders started arriving to customers one week later on Tuesday, December 15.

The ‌AirPods Max‌ offer many popular AirPods features such as the H1 chip, easy pairing, Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency, automatic switching, Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking, but in a premium over-ear design for the first time. They also offer a headband made of a flexible mesh canopy, replaceable magnetic earcups, a Digital Crown for volume control, a button for switching between ANC and Transparency, and a Smart Case for storage and to put the headphones into a low power state.

Demand for the ‌AirPods Max‌ was high immediately after launch, with shipping estimates that stretched out several months. Initial reviews of AirPods Max were favorable, applauding the headphones for being "more than enough to compete with other high-end headphones." While the recommended retail price remains at $549, the ‌AirPods Max‌ are often available with discounts of over $100.

The ‌AirPods Max‌ have also been subject to criticism since their launch, including for their price relative to rival sets of high-end over-ear headphones, the design of the Smart Case, condensation inside the earcups, poor battery life (something that was later fixed via a software update), and ANC strength being reduced over time.

While the ‌‌AirPods Max‌‌ are now three years old, the next-generation may only introduce a small number of upgrades consisting of a USB-C port, Bluetooth 5.3, and new color options.

Related Roundup: AirPods Max
Buyer's Guide: AirPods Max (Caution)
Related Forum: AirPods

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Mock iPhone 16 Feature Gray

Revealed: iOS 18 Works With These iPhone Models

Monday June 10, 2024 3:57 am PDT by
iOS 18 will be compatible with the same iPhone models as iOS 17, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS updates. iOS 18 will be compatible with the iPhone XR, and hence also the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models with the same A12 Bionic chip, but older iPhone models will miss out. Here is the full...
ios 18 tile summary

Apple Announces iOS 18 With New Customization Features, Redesigned Photos App, and More

Monday June 10, 2024 10:17 am PDT by
Apple today previewed iOS 18, the next major update to the operating system for the iPhone, with new customization features, a redesigned Photos app, and more. iOS 18 features new customization tools for the Home Screen. App icons now feature Dark Mode and users can tint them with a color to create a unique look. Apps can also now be placed anywhere on the Home Screen freely. The Control...
WWDC24 Live Coverage Article

WWDC 2024 Apple Event Live Keynote Coverage: iOS 18, Apple's AI Push, and More

Monday June 10, 2024 9:20 am PDT by
Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) starts today with the traditional keynote kicking things off at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. MacRumors is on hand for the event and we'll be sharing details and our thoughts throughout the day. We're expecting to see a number of software-related announcements with a focus on Apple's efforts to infuse AI throughout its operating systems and apps....
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Massive iPhone Upgrade Coming This Week But These Devices Will Miss Out

Sunday June 9, 2024 1:25 pm PDT by
Apple is planning a major AI overhaul in iOS 18, with a feature set it is referring to as "Apple Intelligence." However, these new features will not work on older iPhones, even if they do appear on the new operating system's device compatibility list. Apple's initial AI roadmap for iOS 18 is said to come in two parts: Basic AI features that will be processed on-device, and more advanced...
Next Gen CarPlay WWDC24 1

Apple Provides Updated Look at Next-Generation CarPlay at WWDC 2024

Monday June 10, 2024 7:11 pm PDT by
Apple today shared a few WWDC 2024 coding sessions related to its upcoming next-generation CarPlay system ahead of its launch later this year. The sessions include lots of updated next-generation CarPlay images, with one revealing new Vehicle, Media, and Climate apps in action for the first time. MacRumors previously discovered evidence of these apps in the iOS 17.4 beta. Next-generation...
m3 macbook air purple

Amazon Introduces Record Low Prices on Every M3 MacBook Air

Sunday June 9, 2024 7:57 am PDT by
On Friday we tracked new all-time low prices on the 13-inch M3 MacBook Air, and today Amazon has expanded this sale with record low prices on the 15-inch models as well. Thanks to these additional deals, every single model of the M3 MacBook Air is now available at an all-time low price. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may...

Top Rated Comments

sunapple Avatar
27 weeks ago

I am surprised Apple still has this product for sale. The Beats Studio Pro is so much better.
Not having tried the Beats I can safely say this comment is false.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
javanate Avatar
27 weeks ago
Needs to support lossless, have usbc, new case, and function with cord and no battery.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JustAnExpat Avatar
27 weeks ago
I am surprised Apple still has this product for sale. The Beats Studio Pro is so much better.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Wizard_of_Woz Avatar
27 weeks ago

I haven’t seen a single person use these in public in those 3 years.
You need to get out more! ?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jmovie Avatar
27 weeks ago
I love my AirPods Max. While all of these criticisms are fine, I think most of them don’t really apply. They feel great, they sound great, most of you could never tell the difference between lossless and otherwise, it’s an excellent product, one of my favorites, every single time I put them on.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
urahara Avatar
27 weeks ago
I had AirPod Max - broken within 20 months.

After that I chose Sony MX-1000-M5 thanks to their much superior voice isolation and background voice reduction. My counterpart on the call can hear me so much clearer and more natural than on Apple.
I am actually surprised how much better Sony MX-1000-M5 is than AirPod Max in this regard.
Looks like Apple dropped a ball here.

I had 2 Beats in-ear pairs - both broken within 12-18 months.
And I still consider AirPods Pro as in ears. Am I crazy for still wanting headphones from Apple?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)