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A Longterm review of Apple EarPods

A few months back I replaced my old pair of EarPods which I’d had since I got my iPhone 5s with a brand new pair of EarPods. These were not the first headphones which I’ve bought since I got those headphones, however I decided that getting a new pair of EarPods was a worthwhile investment of my money as I found them to be my “golilocks” headphones.

As such, I though I’d write a long form review of Apple EarPods in the style of MinimallyMinimal’s long form reviews with plenty of images. This isn’t short [it’s around 1000 words] so if you want to save it for later then go ahead. Alternatively you can skim and browse the images to decide if you want to come back later to read it.

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It is broken up into

  • History
  • The Good
  • The Bad
  • Conclusion

History

Apple EarPods were announced in September 12, 2012 to go along with the iPhone 5 and 5th generation iPod touch. They replaced the Apple earbuds which were now in their third revision after adding a remote for playback features, then a microphone and finally a revised design and control shape. Over two years later, the EarPods are still Apple’s default headphones and have been emulated by Amazon’s “premium” headphones.

At the time Apple said

From the moment you see them, you’ll see their beautiful and they’re unlike any headphones you’ve seen before.

A breakthrough in both comfort and audio quality.

Unlike traditional, circular earbuds, the design of the new Apple EarPods is defined by the geometry of the ear. Which makes them more comfortable for more people than any other earbud-style headphone.

Basic facts about EarPods

  • require iOS 2.2 or later for all features
  • come with iPhone 5, 5s, 6 and 6+ as well as iPod touch 5th generation and iPod nano 7th
  • cost $29.99 or £29.99
  • Come with a storage/travel case

Apple EarPods lying flat in box

The Good of Apple EarPods

When I first put in my Apple EarPods, I knew they were on to something. The shape of the headphones made them fit a lot better than any headphones I have previously tried. They didn’t suffer from the issues of a plastic seal which tried to slowly push its way out of the ear or a horrible tangle of wire over the top of my ears. I was also living in the hot climate of Spain at the time and my more expensive over the ear headphones were just too hot and sweaty for the weather. The EarPods were a perfect, discrete change.

The sound quality of the EarPods is also superb. They have an excellent amount of base that Meghan Trainor would be happy with. This is due to the ports which allow more air to pass through the device and create a deeper base.

Apple EarPods remote control
The three way controls are now a standard on most headphone sets, they add important functionality to pause and change volume settings easily while on the go and without pulling your phone out. What separates the EarPods from rivals in the contours of the controls. There is a large gap in the centre which often acts as a pause option in different music apps and can also be used to snap a picture from within the camera application. There is then a fairly sharp (but not dangerous) ridge which clearly identifies where the volume up and down controls are. This is different from other systems, many of which have three separate similar buttons which can be difficult to distinguish resulting in pressing the wrong button and pausing music when you want to turn the volume down or up.

Finally, there is a good enough microphone in the controls which allows you to make telephone calls, dictate, activate siri and generally use your voice without bringing your device out of your pocket.

The Bad side of EarPods

These headphones are not perfect though, the have their faults and over time they can become more apparent. The biggest issue I have experienced is the connector to plug into your phone or device. Apple went for a straight connector which sticks out straight from your phone. This starts ridged and then becomes flexible. If you put your phone in your pocket then your movements can end up bending, stretching and generally causing wear and tear on the joint. Many rival headphones have introduced measures to counter this issue such as the simple L joints to plug in to more complicate flexible options for your joint. This design fault lead to my original pair breaking at this joint and stopping working.

Apple EarPods openThe iconic colour choice of the headphones that certainly helped contribute to the iPods success with the EarBuds also leads to collecting dirt and sometimes dye from clothing. This can mean that your once pristine white EarPods eventually become a grimy grey.

Finally, although the headphone come with a “carry case” they do not travel well. They often get tangled and putting your EarPods back into their case can be a real challenge. Some rival headphones have introduce flat wire headphones which help prevent tangling and others also provide good traveling options as well (of course there are options like cord tacos).

A look to the future of Apple EarPods

There are rumors that the next generation of iPhones will drop the audio jack completely in favour of either Bluetooth audio or using audio via the Lightning port (something which has been supported for a while). It’s possible that Apple will update the EarPods to plugin via the Lightning port, or even possible create a Bluetooth version.

Conclusion

EarPods aren’t without their faults, they can degrade overtime, losing their white glen and slowly damaging the connection port, however they provide great sound with a very comfortable (for me at least) fit into my ears. They may not have as good sound as very high price headphones but for free in ear headphones which come with your device they are hard to beat.

What has been your experience of EarPods or rival headphones

About Chris Wilson

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