AirPods Pro Versus AirPods Max Headphones

Apple’s AirPods Pro and AirPods Max are two very different products that both deliver excellent experiences. Are you struggling to decide between the two? This comparison review should clear things up and help you make the best decision.

What’s Different Between Airpods Pro and Airpods Max

The first thing to note in choosing between AirPods Pro and AirPods Max is that these are very different products. Despite some similarities (discussed later on), these devices are designed with differing priorities and use cases in mind.

Form Factor

The AirPods Pro are true wireless in-ear earbuds with silicone tips for a tight in-ear seal and a wireless charging case that provides extra juice (similar to most other true wireless earbuds on the market today). In addition, they boast numerous upgrades over basic AirPods, including active noise cancellation, upgraded audio quality, better fit and more.
In contrast, AirPods Max are wireless over-ear headphones with large, oversized earcups that envelop your ear and an eye-catching headband connecting the two. They produce a much more vibrant and open field of sound than the AirPods Pro simply because of what they are. They’re bulky — heavy, even — but the trade-off for that bulk is deeply impressive audio.


AirPods Pro retail for $249, which is a bit of a bump up in price from the $179 standard AirPods. AirPods Max, on the other hand, retail for $549, more than double the cost of AirPods Pro.
In terms of price, Airpods Pro are the better deal. However, you’ll miss out on the impressive, audiophile-friendly sound quality that the Airpods Max offer.


The latest AirPods Pro model includes a MagSafe charging case, meaning you can charge the earbuds and the case via Qi or MagSafe wireless chargers. There’s also a lightning port for charging via wire.
AirPods Max charge via Lightning cable and don’t support wireless charging. The case provides no additional battery and is, according to most reviewers, nearly useless. It’s supposed to put the headphones in an ultra-low power state (you can’t actually turn them off), but the functionality of that feature is debatable.


AirPods Pro feature an IPX4 rating, meaning they’re safe from occasional splashes of water (but not from dust). So if you want to jog or work out while wearing your AirPods Pro, they should be fine.
AirPods Max don’t feature any such rating. They aren’t designed for active use where water and sweat are a concern.

Battery Life

AirPods Pro will give you about 4.5 hours of audio time before they need to go back into the case. The case should provide multiple recharges before it dies itself. As such, AirPods Pro aren’t meant for all-day listening. Instead, the manufacturer expects users to listen with the AirPods Pro for an hour or two at a time, with breaks between sessions.
If all-day listening is your primary use case, the AirPods Max are the way to go, with over 20 hours of battery life on a full charge.

What’s the Same

These are both high-end Apple audio products, so there are plenty of similarities. Both use Apple’s latest H1 chip for advanced connectivity to Apple devices. Bluetooth 5.0 is on board, too, so you can use Apple’s headphones with other devices.
Both feature active noise cancellation and Transparency Mode, which pulls in ambient noise for safety purposes (such as during a bike ride). That said, the experience isn’t totally equal: given the extra size of the AirPods Max, they have room for additional microphones that provide much stronger active noise cancellation.
Spatial audio shows up in both sets as well, which is great for certain video content and on FaceTime group calls. In addition, both pairs have Hey Siri and can read your text messages to you, and they can sense when you remove them and automatically pause and resume playback accordingly.

AirPods Max Deliver Superior Sound for Multiple Reasons

If sound quality alone is the biggest factor in your decision-making, AirPods Max deliver superior results. This isn’t a surprise: a high-end set of over-ear headphones will almost always outperform earbuds, even good ones.
But there’s more to this sound superiority than form factor. Apple has loaded up the AirPods Max with some truly innovative features. For example, the telescoping arms and articulating earcups allow you to find a perfect fit. In addition, adaptive EQ uses additional sensors and microphones to detect where and how your ear is positioned in the ear cup and adjust the sound to the optimal balance.
And, of course, if you disagree with that balance, you can tweak EQ yourself, too.

Which Should You Get, AirPods Pro or AirPods Max?

So, which product is right for you, AirPods Pro or AirPods Max?
For many, form factor and price will be the primary drivers. Are you looking for something highly portable with water resistance? Do you prefer earbuds to over-ear headphones? Do you need wireless charging or one-ear operation? Then you should go with AirPods Pro.
On the other hand, if audio quality trumps anything else or you need all-day battery life — and you have the budget to handle a $549 pair of headphones — then AirPods Max are the clear winner.

Protect Your New AirPods with Upsie

Whether you choose AirPods Pro or AirPods Max, you need more protection than the case alone provides. Get an extended warranty plan that doesn’t overcharge you: choose Upsie for your extended headphone warranty.
Upsie’s plans are affordable and easy to use. They cost up to 70 percent less than other warranties, including AppleCare+. In addition, repairs are easy with Upsie. Customers with Apple products can take their devices into their local Genius pair or use Upsie’s free shipped repairs service.
Best of all, Upsie offers comprehensive protection against accidental damage, manufacturing defects, early wear and more.
Ready to get protected? Get Upsie today.

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* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.