Capra Leather is a Colombia-based company that makes a range of handmade leather accessories, including cases for the iPad and MacBook, as well as magnetic wallets for the iPhone 12, for over 100 countries around the world. One of Capra's latest products is an alternative to the AirPods Max Smart Case, which seeks to address some of the criticisms that have been leveled at Apple's own case that comes with its over-ear headphones.
Capra Leather's AirPods Max case is designed to safely store AirPods Max when they are not in use, and contains a pair of neodymium magnets, just like Apple's Smart Case, to put the headphones into their ultra-low power mode to preserve battery life. Unlike Apple's case, the Capra Leather case covers almost the entirety of AirPods Max, including the headband, for much better overall protection. My Capra Leather AirPods Max case is in tan, but it is also available in black, dark brown, navy, and green.
Capra's leather is fairly soft and supple, but thick and sturdy enough that I feel the case would protect my AirPods Max adequately during travel, and certainly better than when put in Apple's Smart Case. The design does not waste space and is as compact as you could reasonably expect a protective case for the AirPods Max to be.
Although the upper sides of the headband are not covered by the case, they are recessed far enough inside that I felt they were sufficiently well-protected. There is also a tiny amount of added padding in the flap over the headband for extra protection.
The bottom of the case reveals the two pockets used to stow each of the earcups and features a cable pass-through on the right earcup pocket for charging the AirPods Max in the case.
The entire design is based around an easy access flap that folds over the front of the case. This flap contains magnets, which are strong enough to keep it closed, but not so strong that opening the case requires excessive effort. The solution is very convenient and more user-friendly than the zippers that are commonplace on many other cases for headphones.
Inside, the AirPods Max's earcups are kept in separate pockets to prevent them from hitting each other and they fit in quite snugly. Capra says that there is suede inside, but it is a rather rough variety of suede that is much more akin to the natural underside of leather than the sort of soft-touch napped suede I am familiar with from clothing. Nevertheless, the inside is soft enough that I am not concerned about the AirPods Max getting scratched or scuffed.
Inside, there is a small, elastic cable holder, allowing you to carry a Lightning cable for charging your AirPods Max. While it is handy to be able to store a cable here, I found that the elastic was a bit too tight and it was a struggle to get a 1m USB-C to Lightning cable to fit in. I also found that it was a little difficult to remove the cable while the AirPods Max were in the case due to the mesh headband being so nearby, so most of the time you would want to take the headphones out first.
Capra lauds its use of hand stitching and locally sourced natural leather to make its products. I felt that the leather and stitching was good, but not impressive. In terms of quality, given its premium $99 price tag, I had expected slightly better.
It feels like the case has been made to last and will age well, but when it comes to paying $99 for a case, I expected an impressive finish that could stand up to the material quality of other premium leather accessories.
I was also disappointed with the pass-through for charging because the cutout was somewhat poorly finished and uneven. The suede flaps inside totally obscured the actual charging port, making it very difficult to actually get the Lightning connector into the AirPods Max without either scratching the headphones or pinching the suede between the connector and the surround of the port.
I found that the only way I could confidently charge the AirPods Max in the case was by turning the case upside down and trying to part the flaps with my finger while pushing the cable in with my other hand, but even when doing this I found that the suede often bunched up and got caught inside the case.
The biggest problem I had with the Capra Leather case was the fact that the AirPods Max have to be fully retracted to their smallest size in order to keep the case closed with the magnets. Although you can still fold the leather flap over the AirPods Max when extended beyond the smallest size, it will not magnetically stay down. This would have been easily resolved by putting a row of magnets inside the earcup pockets instead of just one on either side.
While for demonstration purposes I fully extended the arms of my AirPods Max to show how the flap fails to close, I actually only need a small amount of extension on my headphones to get them to fit, and even with this small extension, the flap would not close properly at all since the magnets no longer line up.
I feel that forcing users to fully retract their headphones every time they put them away, and then extend them again when they get them out to use, defeats the point of easy and quick access with the magnetic flap. In spite of the various limitations of Apple's own Smart Case, it facilitates all extension sizes so you can use your AirPods Max immediately without worrying about sizing. I can't help but feel this is something of a design flaw with the Capra Leather case, and it puts me off using it every day since it is inconvenient to find the perfect extension with the AirPods Max every time I want to use them.
The Capra Leather AirPods Max case is a viable alternative to Apple's Smart Case, and I appreciated the carefully aligned magnets for putting the headphones into their ultra-low power mode. The case is also excellent for travel and peace of mind when it comes to protecting the headphones.
Nonetheless, it must be said that the fact that the AirPods Max have to be fully retracted for the case to properly close and the charging pass-through seems to suggest that some aspects of the design were not very well thought through. In light of this and the unexceptional quality, I think that Capra Leather's AirPods Max case is quite expensive for its $99 price tag.
I can see the Capra Leather case being appealing to users who need something to store their AirPods Max in during infrequent travel, alongside Apple's Smart Case for daily use. Users who charge their AirPods Max outside of the case or do not need any amount of extension with their headphones will be able to easily look past the problems I experienced.
Apple's Smart Case has its own problems, but so does the Capra Leather case. If you strongly dislike Apple's Smart Case and are happy to pay a premium, Capra's case is a fair alternative that can offer much more protection, as long as you are comfortable with its design limitations.
How to Buy
The Capra Leather AirPods Max case can be purchased from the Capra Leather website for $99, and it is available in black, dark brown, navy, tan, and green.
Note: Capra Leather provided MacRumors with an AirPods Max case for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.