AirPods Max vs. AirPods Pro: This is how the Apple headphones

AirPods Max vs. AirPods Pro: This is how the Apple headphones

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With the AirPods Max, Apple has introduced another member of its AirPods series – and this is fundamentally different from the previous high-end model, the AirPods Pro. We have put together differences and similarities for you.

Design: in-ear vs. Over-ear

Even the design and construction couldn't be more different: While the Apple AirPods Pro are inserted into the ears, the new AirPods Max are classic over-ear headphones that rest on the ears. The first decision is therefore a taste-related one: would I prefer to walk around outside with the more discreet Pro version – or rather with the more massive Max version? The size also influences the sound, purely physically alone, the Max can deliver a much more voluminous and spatial sound than the tiny AirPods Pro.

apple-airpods-max-pink

The AirPods Max look comfortable – but are also heavy. Image: © Apple 2020

In other respects, too, Apple is setting other design accents with the new AirPods Max. The AirPods Pro are only available in plain white, the Max headphones have a greater variety of colors. There are five different colors to choose from: space gray, silver, green, sky blue and pink. Apple has carefully chosen the design from the headband to the ear cups in order to achieve the best sound.

AirPods Pro AirPods Max
True wireless in-ear headphones True wireless over-ear headphones
Noise Canceling Noise Canceling
3 microphones 9 microphones
H1 chipset H1 chipset
Pressure sensor Digital crown
More than 24 hours of battery life with activated noise canceling Up to 20 hours of battery life with activated noise canceling
5.4 grams (without case) 384.8 grams (without case)
White Space gray, silver, sky blue, green, pink
271.95 euros 597.25 euros

The translucent mesh fabric of the headband, which is made of sturdy stainless steel and should also be comfortable to wear over a longer period of time, ensures even weight distribution and thus less pressure on the head. As usual with over-ear headphones, you can adjust them to your head size.

Apple has attached the ear cups to the headband using a new mechanism so that the weight pressure can be ideally distributed. You can perfectly adapt each auricle to the contours of the head independently of each other. The ear cushions made of acoustic memory foam close the ear effectively – and have an advantage over the AirPods Pro with their open design.

The AirPods Pro, on the other hand, are held in a classic white, come in a smaller style than the normal AirPods – and with three different silicone tips. This ensures that the right size is found for each ear. A clever fit test will help you find the right size if you are unsure – practical.

Apple AirPods Pro Buy now at

Operation: pressure sensor vs. Digital Crown

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Control via Digital Crown: the AirPods Max take over an element of the Apple Watch. Image: © Apple 2020

Both headphones have integrated Apple's high-performance H1 chipset, which is responsible for sound processing and smart features, such as taking calls using the Siri voice assistant and controlling music playback. Of course, apart from using the iPhone, you can also control some functions directly on the headphones. Here, the AirPods Pro use sensor buttons at the lower end, which you can use to pause playback. But: Unfortunately, you cannot control the volume with it.

The AirPods Max are different: Apple installs a digital crown here, which you may already know in a comparable form from the Apple Watch. With it you can control the music playback, interact with Siri – and also change the volume. The Digital Crown seems made for it. This gives the AirPods Max an advantage over the AirPods Pro.

Sound: David versus Goliath

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A powerful 40 mm driver is used inside the AirPods Max. Image: © Apple 2020

Sure, a real comparison is out of the question here. On the one hand, because both headphones address different target groups and thus needs by their design. On the other hand, because we haven't been able to test the AirPods Max ourselves – which means we can only rely on the technical specifications for the time being. According to the first impressions of well-known US tech media, the sound of the AirPods Max is excellent.

Apple installs a dynamic 40 mm driver in the AirPods Max. The mids should sound precise, the highs crystal clear and the bass full, with harmonic distortion of less than 1 percent within the audible spectrum. The chip's ten audio cores can perform nine billion arithmetic operations per second.

The AirPods Pro, on the other hand, are equipped with a high excursion woofer and an amplifier with a large dynamic range. In the test , the sound of the AirPods Pro was almost completely convincing, especially considering the compact dimensions. With 3D audio, the sound is even more immersive – which pays off especially when supported content is viewed via Apple's TV app and other streaming services. Of course, the new AirPods Max are also equipped with it.

Features: noise canceling, 3D audio and more

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The connection with the iPhone is seamless thanks to the H1 chip. Image: © Apple 2020

Both headphones score with a simple setup in combination with an iPhone – thanks to the H1 chipset. The AirPods Max also connect automatically to the iPhone after unpacking – simply hold the headphones near the iPhone, confirm a corresponding sequence on the screen, that's it. No more is necessary, the AirPods Pro connect in the same way. Of course, both headphones also work with other smartphones and devices, but the uncomplicated setup process is only available in Apple's ecosystem. When it comes to the basic sound features, the two headphones hardly differ:

  • Adaptive EQ: With the AirPods Max, the sound is automatically set for each auricle. For this purpose, the sound signal is measured and adjusted in real time for the low and medium frequencies.
  • Active Noise Cancellation: Three outward-facing microphones on each auricle pick up ambient noise, while an inward-facing microphone monitors the sound that is delivered to the ear. In this way, noises are actively suppressed.
  • Transparency mode: If you want to hear music and ambient noise at the same time, activate the transparency mode. You can switch between noise canceling and transparency mode at the push of a button.
  • 3D audio: Using dynamic head tracking, sounds are reproduced three-dimensionally in order to achieve immersive sound – the sound is aligned with the location of the iPhone or iPad.

Battery life: Slight advantages for the AirPods Pro

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The AirPods Max hardly use any battery power in the case. Image: © Apple 2020

Both headphones impress with their decent battery capacity, although the AirPods Pro are slightly ahead here. Mainly because they receive additional energy from the charging case, while the AirPods Max have to be charged via the Lightning connector.

AirPods Pro:

  • Up to 4.5 hours with activated noise canceling
  • Together with the case: more than 24 hours of playback
  • 5 minutes of charge for 1 hour of playback

AirPods Max:

  • Up to 20 hours with activated noise canceling
  • 5 minutes of charge for 1.5 hours of playback

The AirPods Max come in a special smart case. If the over-ear headphones are in it, they automatically switch to standby mode – and, according to Apple, use almost no battery capacity.

Colors and release: AirPods Max with a variety of colors

With the AirPods Pro you have no choice – they are only available in white. According to Apple, the price is 217.95 euros, but the headphones can now often be found on the free market for around 200 euros.

airpods-max-green-2

The AirPods Max are available in green, among other things. Image: © Apple 2020

Apple offers significantly more color variety with the AirPods Max – you can choose between space gray, silver, sky blue, green and pink. Of course, the corresponding case is also available in the desired color. In terms of price, the headphones are well above the AirPods Pro – and many other competing products. Just under 600 euros are due, exactly: 597.25 euros. The release is due on December 15th.

Apple AirPods Pro Buy now at

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