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AirPods Max 2: specs, potential price, and other latest rumours

The latest on the AirPods Max follow-up, expected to launch late 2022

AirPods Max are due an update. The first generation of the premium Apple headphones first launched in 2020, with not much more said since, but Apple has launched lossless Apple Music streaming since, which it’s most expensive headphones don’t support.

As a result, we’re expecting AirPods Max 2 in late 2022 with a slightly refreshed design and improved specs.

We gave the existing headphones 4/5 in our AirPods Max review thanks to the impressive sound, but the case and some other more practical aspects disappoint . We’d expect a step up from this in AirPods Max 2. But what else do you need to know about Apple’s next-gen headphones? Let’s find out.

AirPods Max 2: potential release date and price

The latest AirPods Max 2 release date news comes to us from Apple analyst Mark Gurman, via his Power On newsletter for Bloomberg. In it, he predicts an Autumn 2022 launch for the updated version of Apple’s headphones and a sequel to AirPods Pro as well – you can find out all the details about that in our AirPods Pro rumours roundup.

“Look out for new AirPods Pro in the fall. The current model has been on the market since fall of 2019, so the batteries are already probably in trouble for some early adopters. Also look out for an AirPods Max refresh with new colors (and, we hope, a price drop—$550 is absurd for those headphones).”

Mark Gurman

Gurman has one of the strongest track records for Apple leaks, so his report should be considered quite highly. It does, however, contrast to a different report from iDropNews, suggesting an early 2023 release.

Looking at Apple’s history of events, the former looks like the more likely date for the release. In recent years, Apple has held two events in the Autumn – one in September and one in October. The original AirPods were launched in Autumn, as were AirPods Pro and AirPods 3; so another autumnal AirPods launch seems likely.

As for the price, there’s not too much to go on. In Gurman’s report, he mentioned he hoped for a price drop, but offered no information on whether there would be one. AirPods 2 debuted at the same price as the original AirPods, so we might get the same luxury with the Max successor. AirPods Max currently retail for $549/£549, so expect a figure in the same ballpark.

AirPods Max 2 design

Here’s where things get a little more interesting. Gurman’s report outlined that we should expect new colours on the updated AirPods Max. The original device debuted in Space Grey, Silver, Green, Pink and Sky Blue, so the product isn’t shy to a splash of colour.

While Gurman didn’t expand on what to expect, we can look to the 2021 iMac for inspiration. Expect brighter colours, in the same pastel shade. Yellow? We see you. Red? Yes, please. Purple? Come here. iPhone 12 and subsequent iPad models have featured a purple option, so we’d hedge our bets on this one.

According to a patent Apple holds, the company is working on touch controls rather than the Digital Crown. Apparently, this featured was intended for AirPods Max the first time round, but Apple couldn’t get it quite right. Assuming Apple is working on this again, expect the loss of the Digital Crown to be a big design differentiator.

Finally, who could talk about AirPods Max without mentioning the controversial case. While designed for convenience, the bra/purse-like design has received much criticism. Admittedly, the case does look a little silly, and doesn’t offer much in the way of protection. As this was the biggest criticism of the device, we’d expect (and hope) Apple to make some changes here.

AirPods Max 2 features and specs

As mentioned above, Apple is working on touch controls for AirPods Max 2, which would be a brand new feature to the headphones. Should Apple decide to tweak the case too, we could be looking at a way to turn the headphones off, without the daft magnets in the case and a “low power” mode.

Other new features could include improved active noise-cancelling. Thanks to another patent, we can see Apple is working on tweaking its ANC to better avoid audio howls and feedback. While we haven’t seen any complaints of these issues, we welcome any improvements to the already impressive noise-cancelling feature.

Yet another patent (spotting a trend?) explains that Apple is working on new optical audio transmission technology. It’s a fancy new alternative to Bluetooth, which would allow Apple to deliver lossless audio wirelessly. We’d expect this on Apple’s highest end headphones, especially since Apple Music supports lossless audio. Other alternatives for lossless audio support include an AirPlay-esque feature.

Naturally, Apple might not pursue any of these patents. But if we’re to see them anywhere, we’d expect AirPods Max 2, thanks to the premium offering. Since this update is set to be a minor refresh, we wouldn’t expect too many more new features. Expect a spec bump in the drivers behind the headphone, improving the already stellar audio quality. And be prepared for a cheeky extra feature hidden up Apple’s sleeve.