Apple EarPods Review: Better, But Still Garbage

Pretty soon millions — tens of millions! — of suckers will own a pair of Apple EarPods. If you hated the old Apple buds because they sound terrible and don't fit, good news is that these are better. And they still come free with a device. The bad news is that they're still a pretty poor way to experience music.

What Is It?

The earbuds that come with the iPhone 5 and iPods. They also sell separately for $30.

Who's It For?

Everybody. Nobody. Your junk drawer, eventually.

Design

Little white plastic dots with an ergonomic new bulb shape. The speaker pokes out of the side of the buds, which is supposed to improve sound quality.

Using It

The EarPods fit into the cartilage of your ear and nuzzle their way just into where you ear canal begins. They (still) constantly fall out.

The Best Part

Better sound than the old buds.

Tragic Flaw

Universal plastic buds will never ever fit properly.

This Is Weird...

We want to thank Apple for trying to improve the earbuds of choice for people who don't know better.

Test Notes

  • Tested on my iPhone using, you know, the music on my iPhone.
  • The old buds were a tinny, muddy mess. On the EarPods, the high end still sounds crispy, but at least there's some bass in the mix now.
  • The new Pods also sound incrementally clearer than the buds. You'll hear more details.
  • They still hurt your ears, physically.
  • More than sound quality, what people really hated about the old buds was an improper fit. This made them basically unusable unless sitting perfectly still. Could we get a little rubber to help them stay in place? So much for music on the go.
  • EarPods. Weird name, right? Ear. Pods. EarPods.

Should You Buy It?

To be fair, this is a freebie accessory. Other device makers don't bother to bundle products with quality accessories. so why should we expect Apple to? If you buy an iPhone 5 or iPod, you won't have a choice. You will involuntarily own them. That's fine — they're a fine backup pair, on par with that pair of Skullcandy buds someone left at your house one night.

But! We advise against purchasing individually packaged Apple EarPods from your neighbourhood Apple Store. They're a little better than before, but they're still among the worst hardware Apple has ever made.

Apple EarPods

• Price: $US30

• Gizrank: 2


Comments

    EarPods? Like, the Cybermen, right?

    Apple's "upgrading" the human race. I knew it!

    I actually didnt mind the last version of apples earbuds, sure they're not the best but they're better then most headphones you get with a phone. The ones you get with the Samsung Galaxy 3 are awful.

      +1. The one's that came with my HTC Desire, SG2, GNex are beyond crap. I'm still using my 1.5 year old iPhone 4 earphones.

      Say what - the SGS2 buds are at least noise isolating!

        The ones from my SGS2 are great, even more so since they're included free.
        Oh, and they actually stay in my ears too.

          I cannot get the SG2 pods to stay in my ears, no matter how hard I try.

            You tried glue?

            Then you ain't trying enuf.

      Agreed, the headphones I got with my iPhone 4 sound better than the ones I got with my HTC One X, which is surprising considering one of the One X's selling points is its Beats Audio. Those earbuds felt cheap and didn't sit anywhere near as nicely as the iPhones ones.

    Every phone ive purchased has come with headphones, my htc headphones are pretty good

    I disagree that other vendors don't bundle their products with quality accessories. The stock Samsung galaxy headphones are much better than the crap you get from apple, which cost $30 but are of a $2 quality.

      +1. My Galaxy Nexus headphones are very clear, go in my ear and stay there and haven't crapped out on me yet (Only had the phone for 2 months). The iPhone headphones actually hurt like mad to put in so I wound up giving them to someone else.

        No dramas with my Sony ones.

          the best earphones i ever owned came bundled with a sony ericsson walkman phone, i think it was called a w995, they were in ear, the noise cancelling type and sounded really punchy, and it wasnt even advertised on the box. when it comes to sony they sure know their way around headphones

            Yeah Sony have experience in the field. Apple aren't exactly known for audio products.

    Meh, is anyone surprised that EarPods are better but below average? It's pretty much what we all expected.

    That said - is anyone able to recommend any in-ear earbuds which:
    - Are less than $50-60
    - Sound "reasonable"
    - Have an in-line remote/mic
    - Don't have cords prone to tangling, twisting or kinking
    - Don't suffer from unbelievable amounts of microphonics (I'm looking at you a-Jays)

      I think your budget is a bit low. You can find Ajays and Klipsch from importers around that price occasionally, but you've said you don't like Ajays, and the Klipsch are very thin cords that get tangled easily. Phillips make a cheap set I've seen in JB but I doubt they'd be very good. Apple also sell premium earbuds, but I've never considered these because the stock pair are so awful.

      Look up to $80 and I'm sure you can find more options.

        headphones.com.au, read the forums. they have an extensive list of recommended phones based on types and price.

        Dude, seriously? Why the hell are people so inept at sourcing something thats of reasonable quality?!

        Ebay. Sennheisser. I got mine for like, $23 with FREE POSTAGE.

          reasonable quality...Ebay... Sennheisser.... Choose two out of three, but not all three

          Yea, I've bought "brand name" headphones for 1/3-1/4 of the price twice on ebay now, and if they're not fakes, they're warranty returns that are flogged back out. Terrible.

        the premium in ear apple ones suprised me, they were actually decent, felt the buyers remorse though, 120 felt too much for what they were, esp as the cord broke relatively easy - but then again i treated em like crap like you would with normal apple headphones. i wouldnt rush out to reccommend them purely on the price you get similar ones for less.

        I love my klipsch s4i's that cost me around $100 (but I think can be found a little cheaper now).

      I havI a pair of Sennheiser CX-200 ear phones, they've lasted me over 3 years, gone through the wash once and are still showering my ears in phat beats. They were the $70 ones at the time though.

      Sony make very good ones, if you don't mind buying from eBay, anything from their MDREX range you should be able to get at that price and their very good- I've owned a few pairs going back 7-8 years now and always very pleased.

      You should look into the sennheiser ones. Top notch, top quality. Around $70-80. I have a pair that lastest two solid years and are still going!

      Kicker have an amazing pair for $50, great sound, great bass, look good, doesn't tangle, and should last :)

      I found ultimate ears to be pretty good and at a reasonable price, and logitechshop.com.au tend to have pretty good prices

      I agree with the Sennheiser recommendations. I bought a pair of CX 300s, accidentally left them in my jeans and put them through the wash. Didn't notice until they fell out of my jeans on the line as they were drying.

      Still work as well as they did before.

    The Sony ones I got with an experia are very decent.

      You would hope so since they make audio devices etc. Good to know though.

        apples make or break product was an audio device.... its beyond me how they ever gained traction with such shitty headphones, at least sony thought it through

      Im quite pleased with my Xperia ones as well though disappointed they don't work properly with my s9

    I haven't even taken the plastic one size fits all headphones out of the packet from my Lumia 800. They're all awful to wear and awful to listen to.

    Rocking the Ajays.

    Best ear bud headphones I've gotten with a phone/tablet were the ones that game with the original Samsung Galaxy tab. I found them to be simply great- way better than the strangely oversized stuff that comes with HTC devices, and better than the Apple cheapies. I used them with all my phones till the wires developed a connection problem near the plug. :(

    $30? That's pretty cheap for a pair of Beats.

    I didn't there were different types of garbage. Is there such thing as a better garbage? If it's garbage, it's garbage.

      I didn't know*

    Try Yuin branded earbuds. Tradition earbud fitted earphones. Great fit using again traditional foam covers. No isolation but very easy to take in and out. Sounds amazing and comes in cheap pk3/ok3 models to higher end models. No inline mic but you can still talk on the phone by speaking to the mic near the home button with the earphones in your ear.

      I had a pair of those a couple years ago, they were good besides looking cheap but I found the cable housing to not be very durable in the long run.

    What is it you want ?? 1000 dollar boze headphone ? The old ones were fine ! This is why sone people are stuck behind dreay desks winging all the time , never ever work or make millions in the worlds most sucessfull company ! There is a reason u r not working there !

      They make millions convincing suckers like you their earphones are good. They are $2 shop quality crap.

        looks like another reason why some one else doesn't work there . hmm???

        Some of the crap posts on here deserve this treatment. A bunch of winey nobodies who may have done a journalism degree think they know better than the best companies on the planet. I agree with Voice , there is a reason why some people sit back and carry on like they know everything, and others sit back and make their companies very successful with products most people are happy with.

        HOW much profit would they make if they included 100 dollar headphones ? some one needs to go to business school and learn how things are done.

        This is not a review, this was an expectation of 100 dollar headphones for 20 bucks? its like going to Macdonoalds and expecting a top class meal, and COMPLAINING they paid 5 dollars for lunch and it didn't taste like a 100 dollar lunch!!? O M G !!

    I actually quite liked the old apple earphones and was surprised at how good the sound was (for a freebie) and never felt the need to replace them.

    Most people can't actually tell the difference between good and average sound quality, that's how iPods became so popular.

      Thought it was more the fact they became popular because Apple marketed them correctly and they were seen as trendy, but each to their own I guess.

    iphone headphones are rubbish. I'm constantly forced to play my music louder to drown out they noise coming from an iphone/pod user who doesn't realise/care how clearly and and loudly I can hear their tunes.

    regardless how bad it is.. this looks like a direct hate post for all the apple users..

      Even apple users know the bundled headphones are garbage, only hardest core zealots try & defend them.

    OMG it's is amazing! I cant believe they only invented this now. Man my ways of listening to music will be revolutionised!

    Looks like I'll keep my quad BA driver custom moulded earphones from Unique Melody. :p

    Not sure why they can't do market research on all of their stuff.. clearly they do a lot of market research for the iPhone, iPad and iPod (etc) but why not the accessories too? Those magic mice are pretty nifty.. the tablet surfaces they have also pretty nifty.. how can they continue to fail so horribly on the headphones?

    Sigh. I was hoping they had managed to nail it and figure out a way to make decent sounding earbuds without sealing your ear off from outside noise completely. I love my in-ear headphones but I would love to be able to get that kind of sound while also being more alert to my surroundings when out and about (without having to resort to big open-backed headphones that share my music with everybody else around me).

    I don't think the fact is really that Apple have made crappy sounding earbuds, but rather that all earbuds are going to sound crap, compared to proper circumaural or in-ear headphones or a decent hi-fi system. It's just a limitation on how they work. I did believe Jony Ive's hype for a second and wondered if they had managed to crack it after all, but I guess they haven't.

    Don't forget, tim cook said these are made to send the sound directly into the users ear!

    Obviously they are not Garabage as you boasted about the good points e.g the better sound quality. Whovever wrote this article is definetly a nob.

      A little better than garbage can still be garbage...

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    Just to add a bit of balance here ...
    IMHO these ear buds are excellent ..They do not have the hyped up exaggerated eq curve like say Bose and others and give a very honest sound ..The trick is how far you place them into your ears ..Too far in and the bass takes over
    I use these a lot with a Shure in ear monitoring system and find them more usable than the $600 3 way Shure ones on offer

    Pros very loud and don't have the tinny hearing aid based sound of some others
    very comfortable and stay in your ears without pushing them into your brain
    Very reasonably priced for what you get

    Cons Sound is determined by how far you insert them in your ears

    I'm sure there are better ones out there but these are definitely not rubbish and are the best I have found for the Shure IEM system without going to custom ear inserts
    I gave up buying ear buds based on reviews as the results were disappointing ----- for example Westones.. I guess different people hear things differently and want different things

    Love yuse all ..BlaMM

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