The AirPods Max don’t have a 'condensation death' problem, say Apple lawyers

Two pairs of Apple AirPods Max headphones on a grey background
(Image credit: Apple)

Almost straight after the Apple AirPods Max launched in December 2020, some users began complaining that there was an issue with condensation getting inside the ear cups and causing damage – but now Apple's lawyers are hitting back.

As reported by 404 Media, the legal team at Apple is arguing that it has been consistent in telling users not to get water inside the headphones, and that the issue is simply "more noticeable" than in other over-the-ear headphones because the ear cups are magnetically attached and can be easily removed.

In other words, Apple's position is that this condensation is normal, to a certain extent – and something users should be careful to watch out for. In a lawsuit currently going through the courts, Apple's lawyers suggest the plaintiff in the case hasn't told the full story about how the AirPods Max have been used. For example, they say the plaintiff "omits details" about a walk that caused condensation.

Condensation happens when warm air meets a cold surface, and it appears that strenuous activity and exercise – and the resulting body heat – can cause issues with the AirPods Max, which have metal surfaces inside. From Apple's point of view, the headphones shouldn't be used for a long time in these scenarios.

'Like wrapping your head in kitchen foil'

AirPods Max

(Image credit: TechRadar)

We first reported on the issue back in January 2021, and based on social media posts and threads on Reddit, the problem hasn't gone away. As the headphones get older, it's possible that 'condensation death' is becoming more noticeable – especially in the sweltering summer that many regions have had.

We've asked Apple for its response, and will update this article if we hear back. Without any official statement, it's difficult to get a handle on how widespread the issue is, and there's a lot of variation in terms of how much condensation users are noticing and whether or not it actually affects the functionality of the AirPods Max.

TechRadar contributor Carrie Marshall (who’s owned the AirPods Max for two years) said: "I don't wear my AirPods Max for long enough to encounter the condensation problem, but I'm not surprised it happens: they fit much more tightly and give me much hotter ears than the headphones I prefer for long recording sessions, the BeyerDynamic DT-770 Pro."

"I think that's probably because of Apple's aluminum outers: aluminum looks brilliant but it's not exactly breathable. It's a bit like wrapping your head in kitchen foil."

It's possible that the relatively low sales of the AirPods Max – in comparative Apple terms – mean the problem has gone under the radar to a certain extent. What's certain is that you don't have to look far to find online complaints about this issue – so we'll have to wait and see if they're addressed with the AirPods Max 2.

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David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.