Apple AirPods Max vs Beats Headphones: Worth the Premium?

Apple AirPods Max vs Beats Headphones

Apple AirPods Max vs Beats Headphones: Worth the Premium?

Choosing the best wireless headphones is quite a tough decision. Not only do they grow more and more technologically advanced by the year, but they also continue to pop up in ever-increasing numbers annually. Today, two of the most preeminent competitors in the wireless Bluetooth smart headphones space are Apple AirPods Max vs Beats headphones.

How do these two close rivals actually compare to one another, though? (Especially considering that both fall under the Apple umbrella.) Let’s compare and contrast the two to find out which option is better.

Apple AirPods Max vs Beats Headphones: Side-by-Side Comparison

Apple AirPods MaxBeats Headphones
BrandAppleBeats by Dre
First ReleasedDecember 15th, 2020July 25th, 2008
Latest Model1st Gen. AirPods MaxBeats Studio3 Wireless
Latest Release DateDecember 15th, 2020September 4th, 2017
Battery LifeUp to 20 hoursUp to 22 hours
Charge TimeFully charged in around two hoursFully charged in around an hour and a half
BluetoothBluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 4.0
Compatible DevicesBluetooth, iOS, and Android devicesBluetooth, iOS, and Android devices
Size6.64 in. x 7.37 in. x 3.28 in.6.3 in. x 8.94 in. x 4.72 in.
Weight13.6 oz.9.17 oz.
ColorsSilver, Space Gray, Sky Blue, Pink, GreenMatte Black, Black-Red, Red, White, Blue, Midnight Black, Shadow Gray

Apple AirPods Max vs Beats Headphones: What’s the Difference?

Now that we have a good understanding of the basic specs between the Apple AirPods Max and Beats headphones, let’s take some time to look a little deeper at this particular debate. How do these two wireless smart Bluetooth headphones compare to one another where it matters most?

We’re talking about things like battery life, charge time, size, weight, connectivity, advanced features, pricing… all those factors that play a key role in your final decision between the Apple AirPods Max vs Beats Headphones. Let’s take a look.

Battery and Charging

Firstly, there’s the power to consider. What does the battery life look like on a pair of Apple AirPods Max vs Beats headphones? Apple claims their AirPods Max will last up to 20 hours between charges, while Beats and their Studio3 Wireless headphones claim a battery life of 22 hours. (You can add another 18 to that number if you turn off Active Noise Cancellation, too.)

Best for Apple Users/ Over-Ear
Apple AirPods Max (Space Gray)
  • Apple-designed dynamic driver for high-fidelity audio
  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Transparency mode
  • Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking
  • Designed with a knit-mesh canopy and memory foam ear cushions
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
09/20/2023 04:04 am GMT

As far as charging is concerned, AirPods Max will be fully charged in about two hours. Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones will get there in less time: only about 90 minutes, tops.

Physical Specs

Secondly, we should examine the physical specs of the Apple AirPods Max vs Beats headphones. The AirPods Max measures out to be 6.64 inches across, 7.37 inches tall, and 3.28 inches deep. The Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones, by comparison, measure 6.3 inches across, 8.94 inches tall, and 4.72 inches deep.

They’re a lot larger by direct comparison. However, they’re also a lot lighter. The Apple AirPods Max weighs 13.6 ounces, while the Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones weigh just 9.17 ounces in total. So, bigger, but also lighter.

Internal Specs

Going hand in hand with physical specs are internal ones. How do these two stack up against each other in terms of software and features?

As it turns out, both the Apple AirPods Max and Beats headphones have noise cancellation. That being said, the AirPods Max has a more advanced noise cancellation feature than the Beats Studio 3 Wireless headphones.


Lastly, before making a final decision, we should account for the price. It is after all, drastically different between these two wireless Bluetooth smart headphone offerings. The AirPods Max came onto the market in 2020 with a price point of $549. In the more than two years since launching, they have not come down from that price whatsoever.

The Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones have similarly stuck with the same price for years now. However, that price is significantly lower than that of the AirPods Max: $200 lower, to be exact. They’re priced at $349.95.

The History of Apple AirPods Max

Despite carrying the same AirPods branding as Apple’s wireless earbuds, the Apple AirPods Max is actually a pair of wireless, over-ear headphones. First announced by Apple on December 8th, 2020 — and arriving after more than two years of rumored development that had previously gone unconfirmed — the Apple-banded headphones were officially released the following week on December 15th, 2020.

Before consumers and critics even got their hands on the AirPods Max, it was clear they represented a major step up from all other AirPods models. “Hype” doesn’t even begin to describe the feelings and attitudes surrounding the Apple AirPods Max at the time of their release.

But, once people actually got their hands on the product, it became clear that not everything was as perfect about them as had seemed at the time of the announcement.

For one, they came at a price of nearly $550 — a true premium price, even for wireless noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones. Additionally, they felt quite large (not to mention quite heavy) when worn. Plus, there wasn’t even a physical power button on the ear cups. 

Despite these shortcomings — which also included problems with battery life, connection issues, and lack of EQ customizations — the AirPods Max were nonetheless praised for their Active Noise Cancellation, their spatial audio features, and their comfortable and stylish over-ear design.

After a major software update in the spring of 2021, which amended many of the most pressing battery, connectivity, and EQ problems, the AirPods Max became even more appealing than before. Even with such a hefty price tag, the Apple AirPods Max continues to dominate the headphones market.

How Beats Headphones Compete

The most interesting thing about the Apple AirPods Max vs Bose Headphones debate? The fact that Apple owns Bose. They’ve been in charge of the headphone brand since 2014, back when the tech giant forked over close to $3 billion for Beats Music and Beats Electronics.

Beats by Dre was originally founded in 2006 by namesake Dr. Dre — a famous rapper and music producer — and Jimmy Iovine, a music executive. The company’s goal was to create high-quality audio products that combined style and functionality. Given that pricy sale, it goes without saying that they accomplished that goal.

Awesome Calibration
Beats Studio3 Wireless
  • Pure adaptive noise canceling
  • Real-time audio calibration
  • Up to 22 hours of battery life
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09/19/2023 07:52 pm GMT

Beats released its first product in 2008: the Beats by Dre Studio headphones. Because they were strategically and ingeniously endorsed by many famous musicians and athletes, such as Lady Gaga and LeBron James, they were an instant sensation in the music industry. Good word of mouth isn’t enough to make a company a billion-dollar success, however.

The Beats by Dre Studio headphones also needed high-quality sound. Luckily for them, they had it. In the years that followed, Beats expanded their company’s product line to include earbuds, portable speakers, and even a streaming service. 

Beats’ high-profile sale to Apple in 2014 broke the record for the largest acquisition in the tech giant’s history. It gave Apple a major leg up in the premium headphones space, which had grown increasingly competitive and cut-throat in the several years leading up to the sale.

Apple smartly kept Beats a separate brand but made sure the products integrated seamlessly with their phones, tablets, and computers. This successfully allowed them to develop the Apple AirPods Pro alongside the Beats product line with little to no confusion.

5 Must-Know Facts About Apple’s Audio Technology

  1. While heralded as a leader in the smartphone and computer industries, one thing Apple doesn’t get enough credit for is the company’s long history of being a pioneer in the audio technology industry. This history began all the way back in 1976 with the Apple I computer, which included a built-in audio cassette interface for data storage.
  2. Apple’s history as a trailblazer in the audio technology industry continued with the launch of iTunes in 2001. A digital music platform that revolutionized the music industry, iTunes (and, of course, the iPod) allowed users to purchase and download individual songs and albums to their MP3 players.
  3. The iPod was released in 2001, and the iPhone was released in 2007. Together, these two audio technology offerings from Apple became cultural phenomenons the likes of which the world had never seen. The iPod allowed users to carry their entire music library in their pocket, and the iPhone took it a step further than that by combining cell phones and MP3 players into one.
  4. Apple earbuds have been a staple product for the brand for decades now, but it wasn’t until the acquisition of Beats in 2014 that the company truly entered the premium headphones market. For $3 billion, Apple brought its expertise to Beats’s beloved fashion and style, effectively taking an iconic line of headphones and making them even higher quality.
  5. Apple’s AirPods were introduced in 2016. They were the first truly wireless earbuds to hit the market, single-handedly popularizing the form factor as a result. Apple’s AirPods were an immediate hit and have since become one of Apple’s most popular products, spawning several new iterations and competitors from other companies, including Google and Amazon.

Apple AirPods Max vs Beats Headphones: Pros and Cons

Pros of Apple AirPods MaxCons of Apple AirPods Max
High-quality soundSome of the most expensive headphones
Advanced noise cancellation technologyLarge and weighty, which can be uncomfortable
Cozy over-the-ear designNot many physical controls on the headphones
Revolutionary spatial audioDoesn’t allow for wired listening
Pros of Beats HeadphonesCons of Beats Headphones
Comfortable on-ear listeningBeats have not put out new headphones in years
Excellent bassOn the more expensive side of the marketplace
Long battery lifeNot a very durable build
Fast charge timesVery few sound customizations

Apple AirPods Max vs Beats Headphones: Which Ones Are Better?

So, despite both technically being Apple products, is there a way to name a true winner between the Apple AirPods Max vs Beats headphones? Looking over everything we’ve discussed so far, the answer seems to be a resounding yes.

The Apple AirPods Max is a far superior product when it comes to audio technology. The Beats are lighter, less expensive, and have a longer battery life, but they haven’t seen a major upgrade in years. The Apple AirPods Max have superior sound specs, better build quality, and are all-around more advanced than even the Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones.

  1. Apple AirPods Max (Space Gray)
  2. Apple AirPods Max (Space Gray)
    • Apple-designed dynamic driver for high-fidelity audio
    • Active Noise Cancellation
    • Transparency mode
    • Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking
    • Designed with a knit-mesh canopy and memory foam ear cushions
    Buy Now on Amazon

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    09/20/2023 04:04 am GMT
  3. Beats Studio3 Wireless
  4. Beats Studio3 Wireless
    • Pure adaptive noise canceling
    • Real-time audio calibration
    • Up to 22 hours of battery life
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    09/19/2023 07:52 pm GMT

Apple AirPods Max vs Beats Headphones: Worth the Premium? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Can you work out with Beats Headphones?

Yes, unlike many other wireless headphones on the market, you can safely work out with a pair of Beats Headphones on without having to worry about sweat. Some Beats models are sweat and water-resistant, making them perfect for working out.

(You might not want to go for a swim with them on, of course, but that’s another matter.) They’re also designed to fit snugly and securely on your head, making it so that you don’t have to worry about them falling off mid-workout.

How long does the battery last on a pair of Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones?

Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones have an advertised battery life of 22 hours before needing a charge. However, that’s with active noise cancellation activated.

If you turn off this feature, you may find your Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones lasting almost twice as long as that. Some have reported battery life of up to 40 hours between charges with ANC switched off.

Are Beats worth the money?

Whether or not Beats are worth the money depends entirely on your personal preference and your intended use for the headphones. Beats headphones are known best for their bass-heavy sound and their stylish signature design.

If that’s appealing to you, then they’re definitely worth the price. However, if you would rather have a more natural sound or a more customizable audio profile, perhaps consider another brand of wireless headphones instead.

What's the difference between Beats Studio and Beats Solo headphones?

The key difference between the Beats Solo and Beats Studio lines of headphones is the amount of noise cancellation available for each product. In other words, Beats Studio headphones have active noise cancellation, while the Beats Solo headphones do not.

Beyond this, the Beats Studio headphones have larger ear cups and a more premium build quality, which results in a more immersive listening experience. (Kind of like the one you’d get in a music studio, hence the name.)

When will they make a second generation Apple AirPods Max?

Whether or not Apple pursues a second generation of the AirPods Max depends on a number of factors. They have yet to be officially announced, first and foremost.

Their future as a part of the Apple AirPods family depends on continued sales figures, advancements in audio technology, and enthusiasm from Apple customers (among other things, such as research and development). Ultimately, it’s a real “wait and see” situation.

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