NEW YORK: Apple on Tuesday (Dec 8) unveiled its new AirPods Max, a set of wireless over-ear headphones at US$549 apiece, pricier than some of its other popular phone and tablet products, in a measure likely to boost sales over the December holiday period.
The new AirPods, which will have up to 20 hours battery life, will be shipped from next Tuesday, Apple said.
They are priced at S$849 in Singapore and will be available for order soon, according to Apple.
Because over-ear headphones create a seal around the ear, they are capable of delivering higher audio quality than in-ear devices and remain the standard form factor in professional studios. The AirPods Max model will compete with high-end headphones such as Bose's Noise Cancelling 700 units, which retail for US$340 with holiday discounts.
At US$549, AirPods Max headphones are more expensive than Apple's entry-level iPhone, iPad and Watch models. The company also said on Tuesday that pricing for its base, in-ear AirPods model and AirPods Pro model would remain the same at US$159 and US$249, respectively. In Singapore, AirPods start at S$239 and AirPods Pro are available for S$379.
The company said the AirPods Max contains nine-microphones and two of its H1 chips, Apple's custom-designed audio processor. The microphones help reduce wind noise on phone calls, provide noise cancellation and also adjust audio levels in real time using microphones inside the ear cups.
The company's last quarter results showed a rise in sales in its accessories unit, even as revenue from its flagship iPhones dropped 20.7 per cent, the steepest quarterly drop in two years. For the company's fiscal 2020, accessories sales were up 16 per cent at US$53.8 billion, while iPhone sales were down 3 per cent at US$137.8 billion.
Apple had launched its newest iPhone range with faster 5G connectivity in October, a month later than its usual September release, due to pandemic-linked delays.
The company also said Apple Fitness+, its US$10 per month fitness subscription service, will be launched on Dec 14. Shares of Pelton Interactive Inc, which also offers virtual fitness classes, were down 2 per cent in before-market trading.