Apple’s AirPods Max over-the-ear headphones were released on December 15, 2020, and almost immediately, some owners complained of issues with condensation in the ear cups.
AirPod Max owners who wear the headphones for a prolonged amount of time said they see noticeable condensation inside the ear cup. The condensation reportedly happens no matter what the temperature is, and while some users see it after several hours of use, others report seeing it after just an hour or two. One user claimed the issue has led to issues with Active Noise Cancellation. Since the AirPods Max are not water-resistant, users are concerned that the condensation may affect the life of the headphones.
Now, after nearly three years on the market, AirPods Max users are still reporting condensation issues with the headphones, and some users believe the issue is causing units to fail.
Tech news outlet 404 Media reports about several complaints from AirPods Max users across Reddit, YouTube, Twitter (now X), as well as Apple’s Support Community about water droplets forming inside the over-ear headphones due to humidity. Some users claim that the condensation has migrated inside the speaker holes, damaging the drivers.
A pinned post on the AirPods Max subreddit claims that “most hardware issues originate from condensation issues.” The issues are said to include AirPods turning off randomly, refusing to play audio, refusing to connect, requiring restarts and factory resets to work, and losing audio quality,” among other problems.
Some afflicted users refer to the issue as “condensation death.” The report says that in an effort to resolve the issue, some users have taped up the pinhole to prevent water from getting inside, or they regularly clean the connections to keep the headphones in working order.
404 Media mentions a class-action lawsuit brought against Apple in California two years ago by plaintiffs arguing that “a latent and material defect causes condensation to accumulate inside the ear cups of the AirPods Max, often after only an hour or several hours of normal use.”
The plaintiffs are reportedly negotiating a settlement with Apple. While Apple has not disputed that condensation can accumulate inside the cups, the company’s lawyers are said to have argued that this is “simply more noticeable” than in over-ear headphones from other companies, since the AirPods Max sports magnetic and removable ear cups.