Apple AirPods Max Headphone Class Action

Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky announces it has filed a class action lawsuit against Apple alleging material defects in Apple’s new AirPods Max headphones.

The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco Superior Court on February 1, 2021 and is brought on behalf of consumers who purchased the AirPods Max headphones. 

Condensation in the AirPods Max

The plaintiffs allege that the AirPods Max was manufactured with a latent and material defect that causes condensation to accumulate inside the ear cups of the AirPods Max, often after only an hour of normal use.  In addition to affecting the overall experience and value of the AirPods Max, the defect also causes some consumers to experience performance problems such as:

  1. degraded or no sound in one or both of the ear cups;
  2. failure to detect the user’s ears and of the active noise cancellation (“ANC”) function; and/or
  3. battery charging issues.

The complaint alleges that Apple knew or should have known of condensation building in the metal ear cups of the device, including in and around the electronic components, but nevertheless sold – and continues to sell – the AirPods Max without alerting purchasers of the problem.

Complaints by AirPods Max Purchasers

The complaint states that, despite numerous complaints by AirPods Max purchasers, Apple has not publicly acknowledged the defect or even attempted to fix it.  Apple has not responded to purchaser requests, made within the one-year warranty period, to remedy or address the defect or damages.

Consumers expect that high-end, premium-priced ($549) wireless headphones will not repeatedly become wet with condensation, as this may ultimately damage or degrade the headphones after minimal use.  The lawsuit posits that reasonable consumers would not have purchased the AirPods Max had they known of this defect.

Plaintiff alleges that when the condensation and water in the AirPods Max were reported, he was informed water damage repairs would be available at $29 through their separate purchase of AppleCare+ for the product.  The retail price of AirPods Max is $549.  AppleCare+ for the product costs an additional $59.

Online, consumers report several issues with their AirPods Max:

  1. “So, uhh… my AirPods Max form condensation after extended use. They’ve never been used in any humid environment. The water gets inside the drivers and has caused ear detection problems. I’ve been wearing them inside sitting at a desk mainly, nothing crazy. Super concerning issue.”
  2. “Had exactly the same issue, with a light walk (40mn) and then again while watching a movie (1h30). Decided to return them after seeing that the water was also getting inside the driver and that the ring was getting red… too worrisome for me.”
  3. “I’m having the exact same issue. I’m in Bradenton Florida, I work inside a dr office and had my AirPods Max on for 2.5 hours. I just happen to remove the earmuffs while cleaning them and noticed all this condensation inside and the driver as well. And it’s weird because I’m not moving around at all. Really freaked me out.”
  4. “Today it happened to me, but after walking for 1 hour in the street, the weather was 0.”
  5. “Got mine today. Unboxed and using it while walking outside (the air temperature is around 10°C today) going from places to places for about 6 hours or so. Came back home, took the ear cups off wanting to see the magnetic magic, and surprised that I saw some condensation built up like OP’s. Started Googling, and now I’m here.”
  6. “Why am I seeing condensation inside my ear cups as well as on my drivers????”
  7. “So I’ve had my AirPods Max for just under a week and have noticed that after prolonged usage there’s a decent amount of condensation inside the ear cup. It’s quite noticeable when you detach the magnetic ear cushions from the ear cup.”
  8. “I actually noticed this after the 2 hour mark, but it was only in the right ear cup (left was completely fine). I want to assume its condensation, but it was quite a bit of liquid for it to be from condensation alone. I used an air squirter thingy I use on my camera to try to dry it off, but ultimately it took about 45 minutes for it to completely dry out. Some of the liquid actually got through the fine mesh and landed on the driver. I’m going to keep using them and see if it continues to happen at the same rate or if it goes away. But as of right now, I really can’t recommend these for working out. Edit: just realized now this post makes it sound like I worked out using the headphones. I haven’t and never planned to. It was more of a warning for those that suggested that they would do it (apparently people in this sub said they would still work out with them).”
  9. “Have same issue. After wearing them for an hour and a half watching a movie, in a 20 degrees Celsius living room. Space Grey also. Probably other headphones have same issue but you just can’t see it. Wondering what to do. Keep them or better return them.

AirPods Max are Not Waterproof or Water Resistant

Apple support forums have multiple threads about the AirPods Max condensation issues, which now have thousands of users flagging “I have this question too”.  In an article by Forbes, one customer stated:

“I chatted with Apple about the coverage and they also said it’s a $29 repair on top of the $59 purchase of the AppleCare. That’s $680 with tax where I’m at, for headphones and coverage. She told me to just make sure to wipe them down after every use. And I’m just like – I can get the moisture out of the inside part of the muffs area, but not in the driver’s area AT ALL. And that’s what worries me. Might just return them and wait for [the] second gen.”

Plaintiffs allege that Apple is putting the condensation problem on the customer, who cannot prevent the laws of physics from applying to their purchased AirPods Max.  Apple acknowledges in their own care instructions that “AirPods Max, and Smart Case aren’t waterproof or water resistant, so be careful not to get moisture in any openings” repeating the exhortation to “avoid getting moisture in any openings” and “make sure not to get any liquid in the openings”.

Schneider Wallace Class Action Attorneys

Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky represents consumers individually as well as on behalf of all others similarly situated via class action lawsuits.  A class action lawsuit is used when there is a common or general interest of many people, and it is impractical to bring each case before a court individually.

The current class is defined as all California citizens who purchased Apple AirPods Max headphones.