Don't buy the Apple AirPods Max until they're under £450 - here's why

Apple AirPods Max
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Have you seen more and more people wearing the AirPods Max recently? I have. Whether it's on the commute into London or walking around the city's streets, I've certainly seen a noticeable uptick in people wearing Apple's premium over-ear headphones.

This is surprising, not just because they're a rather pricey pair at £549 RRP, but also because they certainly weren't this popular when they first launched in December 2020. Over time, it seems like it's become just a little bit more acceptable to splash a considerable amount of money on a premium pair of stylish headphones that actually sounded really rather very good. 

Or, maybe these people simply found a really good deal. Deals on Apple's AirPods models are few and far between, with Apple's official website sticking firmly to that original £549 pricing. However, we've seen plenty of times when retailers such as Amazon UK and John Lewis have dropped big discounts on these Apple headphones. 

And with another big Amazon Prime Day sales extravaganza coming up in mid-July, you too might be tempted to take the plunge and not miss out any more on wrapping those sleek AirPods Max around your ears. 

But wait: don't get tempted by a few paltry pounds off and think it's as good a deal you're ever going to get. The AirPods Max have been available for £499 at Amazon UK for the last few weeks, and while that's a decent £50 off the original launch price, it's definitely not the lowest price that team What Hi-Fi? has seen them before. During last year's Black Friday and Christmas sales, we saw the price go down as low as £449 – that's a whole £100 off. And while that's still quite a lot of money to spend on a pair of headphones (that come with a very silly 'case'), it's a pretty significant discount.

So can we expect to see the AirPods Max reach this sub-£450 price once again this Amazon Prime Day, or even lower? I think there's a strong case for this to happen. I'd certainly expect to see the current £499 price on Amazon UK drop further, and we'll bring you the news the second it falls even further still.

AirPods Max Amazon prices on CamelCamelCamel

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

A look through price trackers like CamelCamelCamel shows that the Max have dropped to a lowest-ever price of £399.99 back in October/November 2021 on Amazon, and then stayed at £450 for the first quarter of 2023. The price has hiked back up in recent months, but that could always be a ploy to make a Prime Day saving seem even bigger than it really is. Bear in mind also that a big discount can sometimes apply to a specific finish only, so make sure you check through each of the five finishes that Apple offers. If you don't mind wearing headphones that come in a shiny pink or green colour, you could grab them at a solid deal.

What happens if the price doesn't go as low as before? If you can bear to wait even longer, the discounts during the Black Friday and the Christmas gifting period are even bigger than Amazon Prime's summer sales, so you might well see a better deal on the AirPods Max later in the year. But if you didn't want to wait that long to buy these Apple headphones – and you've waited this long already and the FOMO is really getting strong now – then keeping a lookout during the Prime Day sales (and keeping your wallet ready) couldn't hurt.

Are AirPods Max worth it? Any better alternatives?

Not only did the AirPods Max receive a five-star review from us (Apple's first for any headphones), they also went on to win a What Hi-Fi? Award in 2021 – that's how much they impressed us. The pristinely-machined build quality of the Max are exceptional and they're comfortable to wear over long periods (battery life lasts for 20 hours). While ANC is effective, it's the stunning sound quality that elevates these headphones enough to justify the premium price tag. Precise, organised, energetic and authentic – we lauded them as delivering "a more transportative experience: it feels as if you’re sitting in the room as the musicians play around you".

We said in our review: "AirPods Max are among the very best wireless headphones you can buy. Their authenticity, detail, crispness and spaciousness elevate them so far above the previous crop of wireless noise-cancellers deemed 'premium' that the comparison starts to become a little redundant, and you instead begin to consider them alongside proper hi-fi products."

The competition since the AirPods Max's launch has gotten even tougher at this premium level, with newer B&W Px8 (£599) and Focal Bathys (£699) headphones offering audiophile-standard quality. They are admittedly a fair bit pricier, though, and with fewer deals around. 

Instead, the best alternative to the AirPods Max is the superb Sony WH-1000XM5. A reigning Product of the Year champ, these ANC headphones offer all the features you'd expect for a flagship Sony product, at over £150 cheaper than the AirPods Max. Originally launched at £380 and regularly hovering around the £300 mark (or even lower at times), these top Sonys offer terrific performance per pound value (and they come with a proper carry case, too). Musical, rhythmically engaging and clear, the XM5s are hugely entertaining. 

Whichever headphone you opt for in the end, we guarantee it'll be money well spent on these solid five-star stunners. Now to just sit and wait for a decent deal to appear...


Read our full five-star Apple AirPods Max review

Want in-ears instead? Here are the best AirPods deals

Don’t buy the Sony WH-1000XM5 unless they're under £300 – here's why

Sony WH-1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Max: which headphones are better?

Check our all our best hi-fi deals and best headphones deals currently live

Amazon Prime Day 2023 UK: everything we know about the summer's biggest sale

Kashfia Kabir
Hi-Fi and Audio Editor

Kashfia is the Hi-Fi and Audio Editor of What Hi-Fi? and first joined the brand over 10 years ago. During her time in the consumer tech industry, she has reviewed hundreds of products (including speakers, amplifiers and headphones), been to countless trade shows across the world and fallen in love with hi-fi kit much bigger than her. In her spare time, Kash can be found tending to an ever-growing houseplant collection and hanging out with her cat Jolene.