Just like the cases that come with most other noise canceling headphones, the Shield case folds around the AirPod Max and closes, providing complete protection. You can store the headphones alone or with the Apple Box, if for some reason you prefer. Inside, you will find plush lining to avoid scratches; It’s the same very soft lining that Waterfield uses in laptop bags as the Leather Messenger. (I own that bag and I can assure the plush liner is ridiculously soft.) There’s also an inner mesh bag that can hold a 20-watt power brick and charging cables.
There’s also a smart feature on AirPods Max inside: a magnetic “butterfly” that separates the two earbuds and unleashes the low-power mode on the headphones. While the AirPods Max eventually switches to low-power mode, it’s good that the Waterfield’s Shield Case replicates the only useful feature that Apple’s included in its own box.
On the outside, two zippers lock the Shield case, which means you can leave it slightly open and plug in an AirPod Max to charge it. There is also a grip handle on top, making it easy to pull the bag out of the backpack. The box also contains two extra bags on the outside: a mesh back pocket for quick access and a front zip pocket for things you want to secure. This exterior comes in brown leather with a tarpaulin trim, or in red, blue, or black leather with black ballistic nylon trim.
I have Waterfield products have been in use for years, So I’ll admit I’m probably biased – but I also have experience knowing that they make really smart decisions in their designs, whether it’s a general-purpose laptop bag or a bag made for a specific gadget like this one. It’s not cheap at $ 99, but the company handmade everything in small batches and the quality has always been consistent and excellent. There aren’t many other third-party cases on the market yet, but that should change soon if you want something less expensive. But the Waterfield’s Shield Case looks like a cleverly designed product for headphones that definitely needs more protection than what Apple has to offer.