The AirPods Max ear cushions are comfortable and easily swappable, thanks to their magnetic clamping mechanism, but you should take care to hold on to them as Apple’s AirPods Max warranty replacements don’t include the cushions unless absolutely necessary.
Twitter user Damien Menn shared photos of his own warranty replacement unit, showing that the new AirPods Max — sent to replace a pair with a broken digital crown — didn’t include new ear cushions.
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As Menn notes, this replacement policy contrasts with that of the AirPods Pro, which will include new silicone tips when you receive a warranty replacement. However, this also doesn’t seem like a particularly greedy move on Apple’s part: while you don’t get a new pair of cushions, you also don’t need to return your old ones.
Indeed, the box Apple provides for sending in a faulty pair of AirPods Max under warranty includes visual instructions for removing the cushions before placing the headphones in the box. The idea is clearly that if there’s nothing wrong with the cushions themselves, you can just snap them on the replacement headphones.
My AirPods Max had an issue with the Digital Crown. I received a replacement pair today! They come inside those little “sockets”. Also, no ear-cups included, unlike the AirPods Pro that ship with new silicon tips. @9to5mac pic.twitter.com/JYoyBmGCuiJanuary 11, 2021
As for replacing the cushions themselves, it looks like Apple support considers cushion replacement a separate process to replacing a whole set of AirPods Max, so you may still be able to replace a damaged set at no or reduced charge. You’d just have to send Apple the faulty cushions by themselves, unless perhaps both the headphones and the cushions were faulty at once.
In any case, this doesn’t look like a case of Apple trying to trick AirPods Max users into stumping for a $69 pair of ear cushions. Just be careful, if you do own the AirPods Max and ever need to get them replaced under warranty, that you don’t mail your ear cushions away by mistake.