Hands-on: WaterField’s AirPods Max Shield Case is a compelling alternative to Apple’s Smart Case

The controversial Smart Case for AirPods Max has arguably received more attention than the over-ear headphones themselves. The Smart Case has been criticized for not providing adequate protection for AirPods Max and for its awkward design. WaterField Designs is aiming to solve those problems with its new AirPods Max Shield. Read on for a closer look at the first third-party AirPods Max case.

Design

On the surface, the WaterField Designs case for AirPods Max looks like a normal headphones case. It fully encloses the AirPods Max and is made from full-grain leather. On the front is a small zipper pouch where you can store cables and accessories, such as a Lightning cable or a 3.5mm audio cable. There’s also a back mesh pocket for more accessories, and another small pouch on the inside.

The Shield Case is available in four different colors: chocolate leather + waxed canvas, black leather + black ballistic, blue leather + black ballistic, and crimson leather + black ballistic. I chose the black leather case, and it’s quite gorgeous and the handmade touches are apparent.

The other colors do have quite a bit more “pop,” though:

If I have one complaint about the AirPods Max Shield Case from WaterField, it’s that it’s a tad bulkier than I’d like. This isn’t necessarily WaterField’s fault, but rather more of an issue of the AirPods Max design itself. Unlike other pairs of over-ear headphones, the AirPods Max don’t fold up compactly.

This design choice by Apple inherently means that cases need to be big enough to accommodate the full size of AirPods Max. Here are the dimensions of the case:

  • 9.50” (l) (at widest point) x 2.25 ” (w) x 9” (h)
  • 24 cm (l) (at widest point) x 6 cm (w) x 23 cm (h)

The Shield Case features a “Magnetic Leather Butterfly,” which will put the AirPods Max into low-power mode like Apple’s Smart Case. Although, we’ve since learned that this isn’t quite as important for battery life as we initially thought it might be. WaterField also touts that if you position the zippers correctly, you can charge the AirPods Max while they’re in the case.

Finally, the case is also designed such that you can use it in conjunction with Apple’s Smart Case if you so desire.

How will I use the AirPods Max Shield Case?

For me, WaterField’s Shield Case will be used for when I transport AirPods Max to and from different places. I don’t anticipate placing AirPods Max in the Shield Case every time I’m done using the headphones, just like I don’t put them back in the Smart Case after every time I’m done.

Ultimately, the WaterField Designs Shield Case provides ample protection for when my AirPods Max are in my backpack, which is a crucial advantage over the Apple Smart Case. Stay tuned for a full review and a giveaway of the AirPods Max Shied Case from 9to5Mac in January.

In the meantime, you can learn more about the AirPods Max Shield Case on the WaterField website. The case costs $99 and orders placed today will ship in February, the company says. What do you think of the AirPods Max Shield Case from WaterField Designs? Is it the case Apple should have included? Let us know down in the comments!

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