Waterfield Designs’ pricey AirPods Max case is in high demand


The Max Shield in blue.

David Carnoy/CNET

When Apple released the AirPods Max, the company got a lot of grief about the headphones’ unusual protective covering. In addition to drawing its fair share of bra and purse comparisons, the Apple case was criticized for not fully protecting the headphones. I wasn’t as down on it as others, but I knew we’d soon see a bunch of third-party cases. Several have already arrived, including Waterfield Designs’ $89 Max Shield case.

Apparently, the case in high demand despite its high price, with several “batches” already sold out. The San Francisco-based company is known for its hand-crafted bags and protective sleeves for a variety of electronics, and it’s the equivalent of a small-batch distillery in the spirits world. The next available batch — the 11th — is shipping on Feb. 26. The Max Shield is available in eight color variations. 

Aside from its swanky design, what makes it different from all the $20-$25 generic cases showing up on Amazon is that it has a “magnetic butterfly” that puts the AirPods Max in low-power mode just like the magnets on Apple’s cover do. With other cases, you stick the AirPods Max (with their cover on) in the case — they don’t have magnets. 

The Max Shield is designed to house the AirPods Max either naked or wearing their cover, and has an inner pouch for storing the included USB-C-to-Lightning charging cable or the optional Lightning-to-3.5mm audio cable for wired listening. There’s also an exterior zippered pocket, as well as an exterior stretch mesh pocket for storing additional items. 


The butterfly magnets wedge between the earcups, separating them. 

David Carnoy/CNET

There’s nothing wrong with the case other than it’s pretty pricey. It doesn’t add too much weight to the headphones and it definitely protects them better than Apple’s included case. All that said, one reason Apple designed the case the way it did was to not make the headphones seem any bulkier than they already are. When you move to a traditional case like this, the package certainly does seem bulkier. 


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More AirPods Max accessories and cases are on the way and I’ll have a full roundup of the best ones in the coming weeks. We should see several more cases with magnets in them — Intelli just launched one for $40 that ships on Feb. 25 — and lots of earcup covers are available. As with the AirPods and AirPods Pro, Apple has once again spurred a cottage industry of accessories for one of its accessories. 

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