AirPods Max 2 may not arrive next year after all — but this should be coming

AirPods Max worn on head
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The AirPods Max are already starting to fall behind Apple’s AirPods Pro 2, but it sounds like we won’t be getting a fully upgraded version for a while. In fact, according to Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, a new version of the AirPods Max may not be arriving until late 2024. To make matters worse, it apparently won’t feature much in the way of upgrades.

Gurman said all this in the latest installment of his Power On newsletter. Apparently the next AirPods Max will come with USB-C, in place of Lighting, along with some new colors. But much like the USB-C AirPods Pro 2, those will apparently be the only things Apple is actually going to change.

This is disappointing, to say the least. AirPods Max currently cost $550, and they’re already missing out on features on account of their aging hardware. The AirPods Pro 2 now offer Adaptive Audio, which includes Adaptive Noise Control, Personalized Volume, and Conversation Awareness. Unfortunately, these features are powered by the H2 chip, which the AirPods Max lacks.

Gurman says there are currently no plans to add the H2 chip to the AirPods Max by the time the new model launches. However, he notes that plans could “possibly” change over the coming months. 

I wouldn’t hold out too much hope, though, since it sounds like this will be the Max-equivalent of the new USB-C AirPods Pro 2. While the AirPods Pro 2 does offer some changes, including slightly better audio quality, it sounds like the "new" AirPods Max are coming simply to satisfy EU regulations about USB-C.

Why Apple would wait a whole year to do such a thing isn’t clear. It seems far more sensible to make the change sooner rather than later, unless there are more substantial upgrades in the works. 

Thankfully, word is that the rest of the AirPods line-up should be getting some much-needed upgrades by this time next year. That includes fourth generation AirPods, complete with ANC, a new design and case, plus better audio. AirPods Pro 3 are reportedly coming in 2025, with a new design and another chip. Perhaps this time Apple can throw headphone users a bone and add that chip to AirPods Max.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.