Advertisement
Engadget
Why you can trust us

Engadget has been testing and reviewing consumer tech since 2004. Our stories may include affiliate links; if you buy something through a link, we may earn a commission. Read more about how we evaluate products.

An Apple modder added a USB-C port to the AirPods Max, and you can buy a kit to do the same

Ken Pillonel previously made USB-C versions of the iPhone and AirPods charging case before Apple did.

Billy Steele/Engadget

It's no secret that Apple is slowly transitioning away from the Lightning connector and embracing USB-C after the European Union forced its hand. While many accessories, the iPad and even the iPhone now use USB-C, the AirPods Max are still mired in Lightning land. However, engineer Ken Pillonel (who previously brought USB-C to the iPhone and AirPods before Apple did) has created a USB-C connector for the headphones.

Pillonel found that it was easy to knock out the Lightning connector AND leave a perfectly sized hole for a USB-C cable. Then, he designed a custom circuit board and found the right connector to make everything work. Pillonel managed to charge the AirPods Max via USB-C on the first try.

Unfortunately, wired USB-C audio isn't feasible through this mod. Pillonel notes that doing so would require a chip from Apple's own adaptor, which costs $35. At that point, you may as well just buy a USB-C headset. So, this mod is only really worthwhile if you really want to charge your AirPods Max via USB-C, meaning there's less of a reason to carry around a Lightning cable.

The AirPods Max are three years old and they're probably due for an upgrade. Any future model is likely to have a USB-C connector to comply with EU regulations. However, if you're willing to tinker with your existing headphones (or perhaps even replace a busted Lightning connector), you can download the circuit design and buy all the other parts you need. Everything's listed in the description of Pillonel's YouTube video and directions are on his website. Alternatively, you can buy a kit directly from Pillonel's store.