Are Apple AirPods Max a good fit for Windows users?
Expensive and missing features
There are two immediate barriers to Windows users seriously considering the AirPods Max. The first is the price. At $549 this is a pair of headphones that costs more than a Surface Go 2, or even an Xbox Series X — for one pair of headphones. Obviously the AirPods Max aren't targeted at the average headphones buyer, but it's still a lot.
The other, perhaps killer blow, is that the full feature set isn't available if you're using the AirPods Max with something that isn't an Apple device. Transparency is still available, but the killer spatial audio is not, and neither is the nifty wireless pairing. And if you're paying out this much, you surely want everything the product has to offer.
The only reason you'd consider using them on Windows, really, is if you're a heavy iPhone and iPad user and investing more for use with those devices. You can use them on Windows, but it's far from the ideal choice.
Better choice for Windows
Neither of these two big negatives apply to Microsoft's own Surface Headphones 2. For one, the regular price is just $249, which is still a fairly significant investment, but a significant savings over AirPods Max. The feature set is comparable, too, with similar battery life, active noise cancellation, transparent audio capabilities and good sound quality.
The case is also superior, and it doesn't matter which platform you choose to use the Surface Headphones 2 on; you have access to the same features. You have a companion app on Windows, as well as iOS and Android, to help you get the best from your headphones, but the overall experience is consistent across them all.
The difficult second album comes off with flying colors
Microsoft put its Surface design and build quality into a pair of headphones, tossed in voice actions and ANC, and made something your ears will love. And at less than half the price of the AirPods Max.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine