Despite their $550 price tag and awkward design, the AirPods Max have managed to shake up the premium headphone landscape and set a new standard for sound quality and ANC. But Apple’s top-of-the-line headphones have common battery drain and charging issues, which makes them difficult to recommend. If you’ve got your heart set on AirPods Max, you should wait for a firmware update or 2nd gen product that resolves the battery drain problem.
Unlike other wireless over-ear headphones, the AirPods Max do not have a power button. Instead, they enter a low-power mode when placed in their carrying case. But shortly after the AirPods Max launch in December 2020, customers began complaining that their AirPods Max blow through a full battery while sitting in the charging case, indicating that the headphones aren’t entering the low-power mode like they’re supposed to.
Shoutout to my AirPods Max that decided to have a lower charge this morning than they did when I plugged them in on Friday.
For some reason, they stopped charging over the weekend and then had a battery drain while sitting in its case. A+ product.
— Justin Duino (@jaduino) January 20, 2021
Reports of AirPods Max battery drain have only increased over time, and three of the staff at Review Geek have experienced battery-drain while storing their AirPods Max in the carrying case. Other tech outlets (iMore, MacRumors, 9to5Mac) report a similar experience, and a quick search for “AirPods Max Battery” on Twitter reveals that AirPods Max battery drain is a common (and often reoccurring) issue.
While leaving the AirPods Max plugged in seems like an easy fix for this problem, multiple customers report that their AirPods Max randomly stop charging while in their carrying case. It’s possible that the AirPods Max automatically stop charging to preserve battery health, which would be a nice feature if the low-power mode were more reliable. Still, the Review Geek staff have run into charging and drain issues without the carrying case, which could indicate a larger problem.
Some speculate that AirPods Max battery drain is a firmware issue which could be solved by a future update. But until Apple releases such an update or unveils a 2nd gen AirPods Max design, it’s hard to recommend these headphones over cheaper alternatives like the Sony WH-1000xM4 or Bose NC 700, which sport similar ANC technology and a sound quality that’s comparable to AirPods Max.