I've been using Apple AirPods Max for nearly a year, and if there's one thing I've grown to detest about the $549 headphones (besides that price) over time, it's the dreaded carrying case.
Call it a caddy, call it sports bra — no matter what it looks like to you, it's still a practically pointless product. Does it protect the pricey headphones? No. Does it elevate their overall aesthetic? No, not if you ask me.
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OK, maybe I'm being a little harsh. Storage in the Smart Case does preserve AirPods Max battery charge by enabling an ultra-low-power state. AirPods Max get around 20 hours of playtime with ANC on, but the case can help save power whenever you're not listening to music or taking calls.
I've been spending more time out and about lately, though. And I'd like to bring the headphones I've used at home for a greater part of the last year with me, so I can channel the superb sound quality, easy Siri access and effortless noise cancellation wherever I go.
But I haven't felt like the included AirPods Max case makes for a truly portable pair of headphones, even if it turns the mesh headband into a sort of carrying handle. I'm not comfortable tossing the headphones in my backpack, weekend duffle or daily tote bag.
That's why I bought this $30 AirPods Max case on Amazon (opens in new tab). There are dozens of AirPods Max cases listed on the e-retailer, but I was most satisfied with the customer reviews on this model. It's shockproof (protective of drops) and waterproof, promising to keep my headphones safe, wherever I go.
Better yet, it comes with a magnet that claims to trigger the same AirPods Max low-power mode as Apple's Smart Case. That means my AirPods Max battery life should still persevere when I take them on a weekend trip.
The case zips entirely shut, meaning no part of my AirPods Max are exposed. It also has a little carrying strap, which I don't imagine using much, but could be useful for retrieving the headphones if they've fallen to the bottom of my bag.
Sure, it's not as premium-looking as the Smart Case. The plain grey finish I went with doesn't satisfy my eye for design, either. But I know what's inside, and no one else in the airport or coffee shop needs to see me flaunting my fancy headphones in a barely-there case, anyway.
You can take a full look at the case I bought in the TikTok below. This is also your sign to follow Tom's Guide on TikTok (opens in new tab), if you haven't already.
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Keep your $550 headphones safe 😤 #airpods #airpodsmax #apple #headphones #amazon #accessories #musthaves #amazonmusthaves #tech #technology #fyp♬ Adore You x Levitating Brian Lucero YT - lex ✨ (opens in new tab)
The one drawback of this Amazon case compared to Apple's Smart Case is that you need to take the AirPods Max out to charge them. The Smart Case offers a small gap to feed the Lightning port, through.
Still, I'll choose this added second of inconvenience over my AirPods Max breaking in my bag. Apple probably should've sold AirPods Max with a more substantial case, like the one the Bose 700 and Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones come with. But for $30 I'm glad I found an alternative for keeping some of the best headphones safe.