Apple launched its first over-ear headphones and added them to its AirPods range. While the new headphones share the naming scheme, everything else, from price to design, is very different. Hence, you may be wondering which ones are best for your new iPhone. Here’s a comparison between AirPods Max and AirPods Pro to help you make an informed purchase decision.
AirPods Max vs AirPods Pro: price
Let’s start by comparing the price, as they are both in different segments. The AirPods Max costs $ 549, a lot more than its direct competitors who typically only sell $ 300. On the other hand, the AirPods Pro launched for $ 249. However, this is not the price you are paying now. The headphones have since dropped to $ 199. Hence, it’s a competition between $ 549 and $ 199.
AirPods Max vs AirPods Pro: design
Comparing the design of the AirPods Pro with the AirPods Max is not the ideal differentiation. They offer different form factors. The most noticeable difference between the two devices is obviously the design.
While the AirPods Max are over-the-ear headphones with memory foam cups, the AirPods Pro have an in-ear attachment with exchangeable earplugs for the perfect seal of your ear canal. The former should technically form a seal around your ears and deliver quality sound.
With the AirPods Pro, you can forget about having them in your ears after hours of use. However, with the AirPods Max, you can’t forget that you spent $ 550 on it as you will feel it on your head with prolonged use. One benefit the latter has is that it won’t accidentally fall out of your ears. I keep losing my AirPods Pro. And I lose them in the house because they are so small. In contrast, this will not be the case with his Max sibling.
height and weight
You can’t adjust the size of the AirPods Pro. On the other hand, you can adjust the length of the AirPods Max with their telescopic arms. And don’t forget, the Pro comes with interchangeable earbuds to give you the best possible fit.
As for the numbers, the AirPods Max is a lot heavier than its Pro sibling. The former weighs 384.8 grams, which is even more than the competition like Sony WH-1000XM4, which weighs 253 grams. Meanwhile, the AirPods Pro weighs just 5.4 grams each, which equates to 10.8 grams in your ears.
The AirPods Pro is available in a single color option. However, with the new AirPods Max, Apple has taken the route of the iPhones and iPads for color offerings. The Max is available in five color options: Silver, Space Gray, Sky Blue, Pink, and Green.
The AirPods Max is not one of the usual touch-controlled offers. Apple has decided to bring the Digital Crown of its watch to its newest product. The headphones have this crown and a dedicated noise-canceling button to toggle between ANC on / off and transparency mode.
In contrast, the AirPods Pro has pressure-sensitive stems. You can press them on both ears to play / pause music, skip tracks, enable / disable active noise cancellation, and much more. It should be noted that you cannot control the volume on the Pro while the Digital Crown easily handles it on the Max. To change the volume on the AirPods Pro, you either have to ask Siri to do so or use the volume rocker on your iPhone.
Let me tell you right away that the AirPods Max case serves no purpose. It’s smaller than the competition, but it’s frankly useless. It serves no other purpose than to keep the headphones in standby. Yes, these headphones don’t have an on / off switch and they never turn off. In this case, you cannot take any cables or other accessories with you. Unlike the AirPods Pro, it doesn’t add any features like wireless charging. With the AirPods Pro, the charging case is part of a fairly simple accessory package that is included. The earphones also get additional battery life.
Water and sweat resistance
The highest quality AirPods from Apple don’t offer any water or sweat resistance whatsoever, which is quite surprising. On the other hand, the AirPods Pro offers IPX4 sweat and water resistance, so you can use it even in light rain. The Max will likely handle some sweat, but don’t wear it when it’s raining.
AirPods Max vs AirPods Pro: performance
Both AirPods come with a variety of features. They have active noise cancellation, spatial audio, premium audio quality and much more. Let’s focus on all of these aspects one by one.
In general, headphones sound better than headphones. Hence, the AirPods Max can be expected to deliver better sound than the Pro. After all, the Max has 40mm drivers in the ear cups compared to the tiny driver in the AirPods Pro. Apple also used a specially developed 40mm dynamic driver for the AirPods Max. They vibrate to the beat in a way that doesn’t put off the music or video, and make the sound more immersive than the Pro.
In addition, the memory foam ensures that your ears are sealed, resulting in better sound quality. The Max also has a dual neodymium ring magnet motor that is supposedly modeled after those you find in high-end floorstanding speakers. On paper, you get spatial audio on both devices, but it’s really amazing on the Max.
The AirPods Max don’t dominate everything, however. They’re good for phone calls, but aren’t necessarily as good at picking up your voice as the AirPods Pro. Additionally, the Max can track your head movements to anchor the sound output so that it appears to be coming from a consistent source point, even as you look around.
Active noise cancellation (ANC)
Active noise cancellation effectively suppresses background noise. Both audio devices have ANC. The AirPods Pro is named the ANC gold standard for TWS earbuds. However, in the words of our own Jaime Rivera, ANC is “epic” on the AirPods Max, which was expected given that headphones generally offer batter-ANC.
The AirPods Pro uses an external mix on each earbud to measure and cancel outside noise. On the other hand, the AirPods Max have six such microphones on the outside and two on the inside, so a total of eight microphones work together for noise cancellation.
There is also a transparency mode on both devices. For strangers, Transparency lets you hear outside noises, along with everything that’s playing on your headphones. And here too, the number of microphones helps the Max. Jaime says that transparency with the AirPods Max is the best of the devices he has tested so far. To trigger ANC on the AirPods Pro, you have to long press the stem while on the AirPods Max you get a dedicated button for the function.
Battery and charging
Unsurprisingly, the AirPods Max has better battery life than the AirPods Pro because of its size. The former is said to last up to 20 hours on a single charge with ANC and spatial audio enabled. In the meantime, the Pro counterpart is said to last up to 4-5 hours on a single charge. In contrast to the AirPods Max, however, the Pro comes with a charging case, with which the earphones can be charged several times with a total battery life of 24 hours.
As mentioned under “Case”, the AirPods Max never turns off, and you put it in the case to put it on standby. In addition, they lose about 2% of battery life per hour if left outside the case when not in use. Both headphones are charged via Lightning cables. However, the AirPods Max comes with a Type C USB cable to the lightning.
AirPods Max vs AirPods Pro: Which Should You Choose?
Switching from AirPods Pro to Max is quite a jump in price. Therefore, price is one of the most important deciding factors when comparing the AirPods Max to AirPods Pro. The AirPods Max offer better sound, spatial audio, and ANC, but are a bit messy to carry as they don’t fold up. On the other hand, the AirPods Pro is compact, offers a similar battery life as the case, sweat and water resistance, and support for wireless charging. You can’t go wrong with either.
I’ve been in the tech industry since 2014 when I created my first blog. I worked with Digit, one of the largest tech publications in India. I am now working as a news editor at Pocketnow, where I get paid to write about cutting-edge technology. You can contact me at [email protected]