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Following yesterday’s announcement of the new AirPods Max on-ear headphones and the opening of pre-orders, customers are already seeing shipping times slipping well into the new year, so if you were hoping to put a set of AirPods Max under the tree this year, it’s going to be a challenge, but there are still some ways you might be able to do it.
To be clear, AirPods Max are only available for pre-order right now, so they’re not expected to be arriving before next Tuesday, December 15th anyway. However at this point almost every version is showing arrival times well beyond that date.
While the Space Grey and Silver versions didn’t sell out quite as quickly, the more fun colours — Sky Blue, Green, and Pink — were already showing shipping times of 12-14 weeks by late yesterday afternoon, and now that appears to be the case for every colour option.
This means that if you’re ordering your AirPods Max from Apple they might not arrive until well into March 2021, but fortunately, there appear to be a few ways you might be able to get them faster.
Add Engraving to Your AirPods Max
As strange as it sounds, MacRumors has discovered that if you add engraving to your AirPods Max, the shipping times are actually being significantly reduced for at least some colours.
This still appears to vary based on the colour chosen, but in the case of the Space Grey, Silver, and Pink versions, that’s reducing delivery times down to 7–8 weeks, while as of this moment the Green only sees a drop to 10-12 weeks and getting the Sky Blue version engraved doesn’t change things at all.
Although these numbers seem to be increasing as time goes by, we’ve observed a couple of examples where they were briefly even shorter, with the engraved pink AirPods Max falling to a potential Dec 30–Jan 7 delivery date after originally showing 4–6 weeks, before jumping back up to 7–8 weeks about an hour later, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the shipping times as it’s still possible that they could move downward as Apple shuffles things around.
It’s an odd distinction, as you would think engraved products would take longer to deliver (and they usually do), but it’s also important to keep in mind that Apple’s engraving isn’t done in a separate location, but rather right at the factory before the products are even packaged, so while it’s an extra step, it’s a relatively minor one.
For this reason, engraved products also always ship directly from the assembly line, which is really the only reason they often take longer to arrive; while Apple might have plenty of stock in a local Apple Store or a nearby warehouse, it’s going to take longer to ship a product from China or Vietnam.
In the case of AirPods Max, however, at this point it’s likely that all of the pre-orders are coming straight from the factory; it remains a mystery of Apple’s inscrutable logistics as to why engraved versions should be shipping faster, but there it is.
AirPods Max In-Store Pickup
That said, if you really want to get your hands on AirPods Max in time for the holidays, you’re probably not going to want to take the risk of ordering them online, no matter what Apple is promising in terms of delivery times.
Fortunately, if you live near an Apple Store, you’ll very likely be able to take advantage of online ordering with in-store pickup when the new headphones go on sale next week. For obvious reasons, Apple always reserves stock for its retail stores, and chances are those shipments are already on their way to your local Apple Store.
If the last 24 hours of online ordering are any indication, however, you’ll want to be super fast, and we recommend using the online ordering with in-store pickup option as early as possible on Tuesday morning, as once you’ve placed the order and paid for it, you’re pretty much guaranteed that you’ll have a set of AirPods Max waiting for you at the store — something you can’t be sure of even if you’re willing to line up outside that same morning, especially since it’s impossible to know for certain how many units each Apple Store is going to get its hands on.
While Apple has been swamped with pre-orders, it appears that third-party retailers may still have stock available. At this point, Best Buy still has the Space Grey and Silver AirPods Max available for ordering online, listed as shipping by Dec. 15th. On the other hand, the Pink, Green, and Sky Blue versions are already sold out entirely.
Presumably you’ll still be able to find them in Best Buy and maybe even some other retail stores next Tuesday, but again like Apple Stores, it’s going to be hit and miss, as it’s unbelievable how popular Apple’s new headphones have become considering their $549 asking price.