Online Forums Flooded With Reports of AirPods Max Dying

Broken AirPods Max due to condensation (From: Twitter/Donald Filimon)
Broken AirPods Max due to condensation (From: Twitter/Donald Filimon)

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Several reports of AirPods Max randomly dying and producing static sounds have been circulating online from 2020 until now.

Apple released the AirPods Max in December 2020, claiming to “bring the magic of the AirPods to an over-ear design.” However, almost three years later, reports of AirPods Max dying or not working the way they’re expected to flood the internet forums.

According to Reddit user, petercalmdown:

”These headphones have been the end of me over the past year. 3 separate models all bricking in some way. Horrible range of hardware and audio issues, just a really bad product.”

Another user, jordan-jay, states:

”When something costs £549, I expect it to last a LONG TIME! I’ve not misused my APMs, I’ve wiped the cups out when my ears got warm, removing accumulated sweat. I’ve treated them like an expensive item, never thrown them about, never dropped them, taken great care of them and they still broke.”

So, what’s the deal?

AirPods Max Condensation Issue

Several users report water accumulating inside the AirPods Max’ ear cups after extended use.

Airpods Max condensation after 7 hours of continuous wear in the UK (From: Reddit/lowellmco)
Airpods Max condensation after 7 hours of continuous wear in the UK (From: Reddit/lowellmco

According to SpektrumKid, who had two pairs of AirPods Max die because of the issue:

​​”My first pair stopped working all together, but was exhibiting a lot of ‘short circuit’ issues, like ANC turning off and off at random, disconnections happening during a song, stopping and starting music randomly. Eventually the battery started having problems and saying that it was only 1 percent charged no matter what I did.

At that time I didn’t suspect it to be condensation built up, but from what I’ve been reading, it’s a widespread issue for heavy users (people who wear them for hours at a time).”

Condensation happens when the water vapor from the air turns liquid – sort of like a reverse evaporation.

Gordon Kelly, a contributor at Forbes, says that this is likely a cause of the design flaw of using aluminimium in the ear cups.

This is a phenomenon that can be comparable with the condensation that happens with aluminium windows.

According to DehumidifierReviewsHQ:

”Materials such as metal, in this case aluminium, have a high U-value. In building parlance, a U-value relates to the insulating properties of a building material. The higher the U-value the lower its ability to insulate.”

This insulation issue means that while internal warm temperatures will easily pass through, preventing overheating, the aluminium itself will remain cold. As a result, the humidity between your ear pads and the aluminium speaker casing rises, especially when worn for long periods as this blocks airflow, causing condensation.

Condensation in AirPods Max results in various issues. For example, Reddit user tokyonathaniel reported experiencing issues in the ANC button, Automatic Head Detection not working, disconnection issues, sound issues, and even power and reset issues.

And, while Apple has yet to release an official statement about the AirPods Max’s condensation issue, AppleCare Services list these reports as “Liquid Damage”.

Liquid Damage diagnosis on AppleCare Service report (From: Reddit/tokyonathaniel)
Liquid Damage diagnosis on AppleCare Service report (From: Reddit/tokyonathaniel)

Static Noise and Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) Issues

The AirPods Max’s ANC is the best in class, according to a review by 9to5Toys. But, some Max owners have pointed out a flaw in the feature.

Take audiophile Youtuber DankPods’ experience with the headphones two weeks after its release. In his video, “My AirPods Max’s died…”, he shows a recording of the moment his Max’s started producing static noises due to ANC issues. And despite all troubleshooting attempts, the sounds remained.

Understandably, this left the Australian Youtuber frustrated that his $500 headphones were no good after only two days of use.

”Literally, the noise can be so loud, I have to take them off. It is so uncomfortable.”, stated DankPods

But while DankPods’ video was released in 2020, similar recent accounts litter online forums like Reddit, with many directly linking the static sound to the AirPod Max’s noise cancellation and Transparency mode.

Battery Issues and Phantom Drain

AirPods Max in Smart Case (From: Apple).
AirPods Max in Smart Case (From: Apple).

Several users on Apple Community have also shared experiences of having their fully charged AirPods Max headphones drain down to 1% battery overnight, despite being stored in the Smart Case. And this isn’t helped by the fact that you can’t turn off the AirPods Max.

According to Apple, the AirPods Max enters into “low power mode” when placed in the Smart Case or left stationary for five minutes. To further save battery life, the headphones go into “ultralow power mode” if left in their case for 18 hours or 72 hours if outside the case.

According to Alexander Leiminer, author of TheMaxStand, there’s no way to know “which power mode has been entered,” if at all.

However, a MacRumors video entitled “There’s Something VERY Wrong With the AirPods Max Battery…” attempted to shed some light on this issue by claiming that a software glitch could be preventing the headphones from going into low power mode, thus causing them to drain.

Other forums also reveal AirPods Max’s issue of the headband deteriorating after more than a year of use.

So, What’s Apple Doing About the Issues?

Since the AirPods Max’s release, Apple has released six firmware updates for the headphones. According to an article by 9to5Mac, one of these versions (3C39) addresses the battery drain issue by improving idle battery usage.

Regarding the audio issues, Apple has posted a troubleshooting guide for fixing crackling or static sounds on the AirPods Pro. However, whether these methods also apply to the AirPods Max is unclear.

When all else fails, disgruntled users can turn to Apple Support for a replacement.

Persistent static noises and battery drain issues should fall under manufacturer defects. So, if you have AppleCare+ or an Apple Limited Warranty, you can get your AirPods Max headphones replaced for free. Without a warranty, the replacement fee for AirPods Max is US$79.

Despite these “solutions,” these issues still plague some AirPods Max users. In fact, you’ll find posts as recent as a few days before the publication of this article still lamenting battery and sound issues.

iOS 16 logo (From: Apple Developer).
iOS 16 logo (From: Apple Developer).

On a brighter note, the upcoming iOS 16 update could change all that. According to Twitter user @ShrimpApplePro, an iOS 16 beta user confirmed LC3 audio codec support for the AirPods Max in the new update. This not only means better audio quality but also lower power consumption.

iOS 16 beta user report on AirPods Max' LC3 codec support (From: Twitter/ShrimpApplePro)
iOS 16 beta user report on AirPods Max’ LC3 codec support (From: Twitter/ShrimpApplePro)

However, whether this update will also fix the AirPods Max’s static and battery life issues remains to be seen. Hopefully, everything will be fixed in the next AirPods Max 2.


💬 Conversation: 5 comments

  1. When this happened to me, Apple identified my issue as “liquid damage” too. It turns out that Apple flatly refuses to repair this issue under warranty, because they decree all liquid damage to be accidental.

    They’re good headphones otherwise but, in the short term, AppleCare+ is essential for anyone considering a pair, and, in the long term, it’s possible Apple may have to pay compensation in response to legal action brought by customers of greater financial means than me.

  2. Mine are so annoying. i really enjoyed using them. But one day Bluetooth issues where it just disconnects while listening to music just makes too annoying to use anymore

  3. I’m convinced there needs to be a class action lawsuit for this. $300 to repair a $500 device that has a history of dying?

  4. My Apple Pro Max suddenly cannot be charged and do not pair anymore. After hours on line on Apple support chat and calls I was offered a 3% discount to purchase a replacement unit. Basically, these Pro Max headphones are unrepairable and do not even have trade in value. They are now a very USD 550 piece of junk.

  5. I bought the AirPods Max when they came out, and over the course of the following year, I went through about TEN PAIRS of AirPods Max until I gave up and asked for a refund.

    I still have serial numbers and receipts for most of the replacements.

    In my case, Apple replaced them each time without a problem, although they asked to send two pairs in for repair. But in most cases they just replaced them on the spot without even testing the broken device, probably because they know about the problem.

    I only ever used the headphones in an air-conditioned environment, never outside or during physical exercise. Condensation inside the ear cups was common, and failure usually began after a few weeks of use.

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