The Smart Case that came with Apple’s $549 AirPods Max headphones generated a lot of online discussion when it was first introduced last year due to its peculiar design and subpar overall protection when compared to the usual hard cases that are offered with other high-end headphones.
Apple’s widely mocked legal situation gave rise to a deluge of memes that irreverently linked the company to everything from body parts to lingerie to handbags. Many have questioned whether Apple may reconsider its design in upcoming models in light of the mixed reviews, and a recently approved patent may provide some insight into what Apple might do next.
The patent, which Apple submitted in June 2017 and which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved today, summarizes various applications of “Enclosures with flexible magnetic closures and clasps,” but the “merely illustrative” images that go with it make it clear to the reader which particular use case Apple has in mind.
A full-coverage two-part housing with a magnetic clasp at the top and a pair of magnetic “mating strips” that run along the seam are described in the patent’s example for a headphones case. A headband can be seen arching over the separator, which separates a pair of headphone earcups, within.
The photographs show the headphone case from the top, side, and perspective, and they all appear to have a far more conventional design than the current one-piece folded-over form, which led several critics to conclude that Apple sacrificed functionality in its quest for iconic fashion.
As with all patents, this one may turn out to be unfounded, but Apple may be preparing a new model of the AirPods Max to incorporate capabilities that the company apparently had to omit due to production and development difficulties.
The headphones were initially said to have adjustable headbands, touch pads for controls, and no distinct left and right orientation, but these features were not included in the finished model.
The feature that was excluded from the first launch version of the AirPods Max may be added in a later release, but for now, all we know is that new color options will be available.