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I love Gucci but under no circumstances does this $980 AirPods Max case work

Gucci AirPods Max case
(Image credit: Gucci)

The House of Gucci film might've been a flop but the latest Gucci launch is more of a... flap. As in, a flap that secures Apple's $549 AirPods Max headphones inside a dedicated designer case that doubles as a Gucci purse.

Gucci just released a $980 AirPods Max holster, which is officially the most expensive alternative to the Smart Case that comes with the high-priced headphones. The "Ophidia case for AirPods Max (opens in new tab)" is an online exclusive with a GG-donned canvas exterior and neoprene interior. It also features leather details, gold-toned hardware and an adjustable shoulder strap.

This nearly-$1,000 designer case is a big departure from the the $30 Amazon one (opens in new tab) I reviewed a few months ago. I found the affordable travel case makes Apple's headphones way better, offering real protection so I can toss the headphones in my backpack without concerns of damage or discoloring. 

Gucci's case doesn't appear to provide much more security than Apple's Smart Case, but then again, it's not meant to be hidden in another bag. It is the bag, even if nothing else but AirPods Max fit inside. As long as your clothes have pockets for essentials like your iPhone, wallet and keys, the Gucci case is totally practical.

There is one problem with Gucci's attempt at turning tech into fashion, though. I'm somewhat of a handbag collector myself, but I usually opt for neutral designs that complement a wide variety of outfits. My salmon-colored AirPods Max headphones are neither an ideal match for the Gucci's brown insignia nor the iconic green and red stripes. 

I can't imagine any other AirPods Max color but Space Gray would pass the vibe check. And even then, the aesthetics clash. Though Gucci is no stranger to bold collaborations (Disney and The North Face are the first that come to mind) the AirPods case isn't self-aware enough. The only detail that honors the unlikely alliance is the word "Hodiernum" printed on the inside. Hodiernum is a Latin word that translates to, "belonging to the present day."

Though one could argue the AirPods Max have more of a retro look, Apple as a whole is known for modern design. The company's devices are clean and simple, and Gucci just isn't that. I think Coach, Balenciaga or even Prada would've been a better fit. Alternatively, the headphone case-handbag hybrid might match the Sony WH-1000XM4's classic color options. But what do I know? I'm not a fashion designer, just a tech writer with a self-proclaimed sense of style.  

(P.S. If the Gucci AirPods Max case has awoken a desire to deck out the best wireless earbuds, there are plenty of vendors on Etsy that sell designer-inspired AirPods Pro cases for much, much less than $980.)

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account (opens in new tab), which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.