As of the second-generation AirPods Pro’s introduction, the AirPods Max was Apple’s oldest still-current-generation AirPods product. Some of the most promising clues about what to anticipate from the next-generation AirPods Max can be found in the second-generation AirPods Pro, which introduced numerous new capabilities including Adaptive Transparency and the H2 chip.
Few reports have surfaced in the over two years after the release of the first AirPods Max regarding a potential sequel. In May 2021, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Apple was considering releasing new colour options for the AirPods Max, and that was the last we heard about the next-generation model.
At least eleven features from the AirPods Pro might make it into the second generation of the AirPods Max, including additional colour choices and updated audio technology.
Apple’s H2 chip, a specialised silicon chip made for earbuds and headphones, is used for the first time in the second generation of AirPods Pro.
AirPods Pro’s sound quality is enhanced by the H2 chip’s computational audio, and the battery life is extended thanks to increased efficiency. Since the AirPods Max are Apple’s top-tier wireless headphones, an H2 chip in each earbud is a virtual certainty for the next iteration. Any enhancements to the audio hardware of the device are likely to revolve around these components.
Bluetooth 5.3 Connectivity
The new AirPods Pro have Bluetooth 5.3 in addition to the H2 chip, a feature that is also included in the iPhone 14 and the Apple Watch SE, Series 8, and Ultra. Consequently, it is expected that the new AirPods Max would also use the most recent version of Bluetooth. Important improvements have been made to Bluetooth 5.3’s reliability, connection speed, and battery consumption.
With the third-generation AirPods and the second-generation AirPods Pro, Apple claims to have significantly increased battery life. Providing Apple doesn’t reduce the capacity of the internal battery, the second-generation AirPods Max might achieve a comparable battery life improvement by leveraging the efficiency benefits of the H2 processor, Bluetooth 5.3, and skin-detect sensors.
As if MagSafe, Qi wireless charging, and Lightning weren’t enough, the case for the second-generation AirPods Pro adds the ability to charge via an Apple Watch charger.
It’s too soon to tell if the next-gen AirPods Max will have a different charging method like MagSafe, but if they do, it will require significant design modifications. The fact that the AirPods Pro can be charged in four different ways suggests, however, that Apple is cognizant of the advantages of such a setup and may wish to extend it to its premium headphones.
Active Noise Cancellation
The H2 chip in the latest iteration of AirPods Pro makes the device’s Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) up to twice as effective.
The AirPods’ inward-facing microphone listens for sounds approaching the ear, while the outward-facing microphones pick up sounds from the surrounding area for analysis. Then, 48,000 times per second, the new AirPods Pro adjust the sound signal that reaches the ears, making it impossible for any outside noise to be heard.
The redesigned motor and enhanced acoustic algorithms in AirPods Pro 2 further decrease ambient noise. Since the original AirPods are the only AirPods with ANC, it stands to reason that the new AirPods Max, powered by the H2 processor, would also include improved ANC.
In the third generation of AirPods, Apple debuted their skin-detect sensor technology, which has since been rolled out to the AirPods Pro. The AirPods Max is the only current-generation AirPods product to lack this technology. Infrared optical sensors are still used in the latest generation of AirPods Max to determine when they are put over the user’s ears.
Playing is less likely to be triggered on a surface or in a pocket with the AirPods Max, but skin-detect sensors might still aid with faster and more precise pausing and resuming of playback. The AirPods Max might benefit from the increased efficiency and longer battery life of the skin-detect sensors as well.
Second-generation AirPods Pro include a brand-new Adaptive Transparency mode that lets in essential ambient sounds like conversation while drastically lowering distracting background noise from sources like traffic, construction, or event speakers.
Apple claims that this enhancement was made “for more comfortable everyday listening.” The H2 chip will certainly enable enhancements to ANC, and it’s expected that the next-generation AirPods Max will also have Adaptive Transparency.
Conversation Boost is now only available for the AirPods Pro, but it’s probable that it may be added to the AirPods Max as well.
The beam-forming microphones on the AirPods Pro are used in Conversation Boost to amplify the sound of the person speaking immediately in front of you, making it easier to hear what they are saying for those with modest hearing impairments.
U1 Chip and Precision Finding
Like the AirTag item trackers, the second-generation AirPods Pro come with an Apple U1 chip in the MagSafe Charging Case for use with the Find My app’s Precision Finding function.
Even while the current generation of AirPods Max has some Find My functionality, a U1 chip in the next generation might offer a far more precise way to detect the headphones even when they are in close proximity.
Sweat and Water Resistance
Both the AirPods 3 and AirPods 2 Pro, as well as their charging cases, are sweat and water-resistant to an IPX4 rating. Apple has gradually increased the sweat and water resistance rating of its different earbuds, although the original AirPods Max lacked this function.
In light of Apple’s recent emphasis on health and fitness, it’s likely that the next-generation device will be certified as sweat- and water-resistant. Since Apple Fitness+ debuted a day before the original AirPods Max on shelves in 2020, it’s not out of the question that the second-generation model would place a greater emphasis on fitness by being sweat-resistant.