Headphones and water don’t mix.
Less than a month ago, Apple launched their first over-ear AirPod headphones, the AirPods Max. These speakers promised unparalleled comfort and sound quality for users (for a price tag rivaling some major smartphones), but while users certainly got that for a time, they started getting a lot of something else: water.
Users across multiple social media platforms, as well as Apple’s own forums, have been reporting worrying buildups of condensation in the ear cups of the AirPods Maxes (or whatever the plural of that would be). According to an analysis by Forbes, the culprit of this watery build-up is the ear cups beneath the foam padding, which are made of aluminium rather than the plastic you’d typically see on over-ear headphones.
Unlike plastic, aluminium is a pretty lousy insulator, so the combined heat from both the device itself and a wearer’s body heat causes condensation droplets to form within the ear cups. This is a potentially catastrophic problem, as the AirPods Max, unlike their in-ear contemporaries, are not waterproof. If a single drop of condensation worms its way into the driver, the integrity of the device could immediately start degrading.
Had exactly the same issue, with a light walk (40mn) and then again while watching a movie (1h30). Decided to return them after seeing that the water was also getting inside the driver and that the ring was getting red (or maybe I was overthinking it). Anyway too worrisome for me
— Calvin (@klemanet) December 29, 2020
Apple has not publicly commented on the matter, though according to one Reddit user, their tech support department is aware of it, and is willing to fix it… for a price.
“I chatted with Apple about the coverage and they also said it’s a $29 repair on top of the $59 purchase of the AppleCare. That’s $680 with tax where I’m at, for headphones and coverage. She told me to just make sure to wipe them down after every use. And I’m just like – I can get the moisture out of the inside part of the muffs area, but not in the drivers area AT ALL. And that’s what worries me. Might just return them and wait for [the] second gen.”