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Get to know the Apple EarPods.

HATS-Front Image
HATS-Side Image

See that oval-looking thing on the side of the earbud? That's actually the speaker. It's meant to bounce sound off of your tragus and down your ear canal. It's not guarded by much, but due to the fact that the earbud sits outside your ear canal, earwax clogging is unlikely.

Speaker Image

Like usual, there really isn't much worthy of note on the backs of the .

Back Image

Measuring in at 3.93 feet long, the white cable of the is punctuated only by a neck split, and a remote with volume buttons and a microphone.

At the end of that cable is a basic TRS pin 1/8th plug for your mobile devices.

Cable Connectivity Image

Much like the older models, the have rather anemic cord guards. It's a little much to expect a set of headphones that cost less than $30 to be the most durable things in the world, but there are very real concerns at the weak points of the , especially when you consider that a lot of stress is placed at the weak point in the cables.

Like all headsets, there's a remote on the cable with a microphone. Also present are volume buttons. Very handy for smartphone users.

Additional Features 1 Image

Once bought, your come with assorted documentation, and a plastic thing that can be used as a carrying case in a pinch.

In the Box Image

If you intend for your headphones to last for years, these are not the ones you want to be using. With several weak points and poorly-guarded joints, if you tug at the cables, they will break after a while.

Despite the fact that they look a lot like the old Apple earbuds, the look is now almost a decade old, and frankly: boring. There are many out there that like the look still, so they may want to shell out the relative pittance it takes to get them, however.

Considering the relatively abysmal performance of their predecessors, we didn't really have high hopes for the . How wrong we were.

Despite the visible tracking error, the frequency response of the will satisfy anyone who likes the sound of the Monster Beats Pro, or similarly bassy headphones. The are a bit erratic in the mids and highs, but overall they stay within our ideal limits very well outside of a significant emphasis in the bass sounds. Overall, much much better, Apple!

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The only thing that we take issue with doesn't really appear in the graph below, and that's the response time and decay of sounds. What's that? Well, ever listen to music on a pair of crappy headphones and some of the sounds like drums just kinda echo or linger on too long? That's something the do with lower frequencies. Currently, we're working on a good way to show you this in the future.

Frequency Response Graph
[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Frequency_Response) Here too we're impressed: a super-low distortion measure from a pair of $30 headphones? _Damn_.
Distortion Graph
[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Distortion) Here's that blemish we saw earlier in the frequency response graph: the tracking of the is a little off. Because the error is over 2dB, audio enthusiasts will absolutely hear it, but overall the difference is relatively minor.
Tracking Graph
[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Tracking) Some things don't change. Though they have improved audio, the shape and fit of the basically ensures that virtually no sound is attenuated. This is unlikely to change unless the famed are given a dramatic redesign.
Isolation Graph
[Click here for more information on our isolation test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Isolation) Because they sit outside your ear canal, the leak sound into the open air like crazy. So, if you have to bump your tunes high to hear them over the bustle around you, be aware that you might be annoying everyone else with your music too. [Click here for more information on our leakage test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Leakage) If you're someone who likes to listen to your music at a high volume, the can handle a sound pressure level over what the iPod can output, at 113.03dB. Still, we like to caution all our readers that listening at high volumes carries a high risk for [noise-induced hearing loss](https://headphones.reviewed.com/News/Noise-Induced-Hearing-Loss-and-You.htm). [Click here for more on our maximum usable volume test](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Maximum Usable Volume) Because the have such an inflexible and oddly-shaped casing, how they fit varies from person to person in the extreme. For some, they fit great right in between their *tragus* and *antitragus*. For others, the little white jerks just won't stay in for any reason, and especially not if you move at all. Mixed results here.
Short-Term Use Image

You'll figure out how these headphones fit right away, and over time, they typically won't feel any different.

There is nothing that you can do to customize your short of breaking them and rebuilding them. We don't advise that.

As the are made for the new iPhone, it's of no surprise at all that they have a 1/8th inch plug, and no adapters. It doesn't really need any, so no big issue here.

While it's a bit risky from a durability standpoint, the can be shoved into a pocket without much lost space, or added bulk. You can take these headphones just about anywhere without having to worry about making extra space.

Should something ever break on the , your best bet is to just replace them. Honestly, at $30 and with no features to enhance durability, the were meant to be beaten on and replaced easily.

Remote & Mic

The remote for the hangs on the right earbud's cable. In addition to volume buttons, there's also a microphone that allows you to let your smartphone stay in your pocket while you answer your phone.

While the two are very similar in outward appearance, the new use a different speaker mechanism, and that's basically the main difference between the two in terms of design.

Without a doubt, the new will appeal more to the smartphone user, especially if they're bass lovers.

The take this one too, as they have an extremely low distortion measure.

Neither does well here, so neither gets the nod as the better of the two.

Neither attenuates much noise at all either.

Both are made from relatively the same form factor that sits in your tragus and antitragus, so any comfort complaints with one will end up being true for the other.

With far superior audio quality, the trounce their predecessor handily. Nothing was done to improve some of the most common complaints in fit, but all in all a much better showing. Stick with the .

By design, in-ear headphones are very different than... whatever Apple did with theirs. They're not as comfortable, but they are almost assured to stay in no matter what.

All things considered, the frequency responses of the Klipsch S4i and the are very similar, though what you don't see here is the ' tendency to let bass sounds linger on for much longer than they're supposed to. The S4is do not have this issue.

Both have crazy-good distortion levels.

By staying relatively even, the S4is offer a less distracting tracking response.

Not even a fair fight here, the S4is attenuate a bunch of noise, and the flat out don't.

This one varies from person to person, but the S4is are more likely to fit in your ears due to their in-ear nature. Still, if you have the opportunity, see if you can't try each on before you buy, as your individual anatomy is more important to the fit than anything else.

If you're okay with shelling out a bit more cash for the S4is, their audio quality is measurably better in many respects, and doesn't suffer from some of the issues the have. Still, it's hard to argue with free (or $30) if you have an iPhone 5, so there's that too.

Not only are the V-Moda Crossfade LP-2s far more customizable with face plates and the like, but you can also run them over with a tank and have them still work. Made from a solid aluminum casing, and with a detachable cable, the Crossfade LP-2s are some of the most durable cans out there. The , on the other hand, are not.

While many might see the graph and note that the ' is flatter, we'd like to point out that the Crossfade LP-2s don't suffer from the same decay or echo problems that the have, which is enough to impact music with a lot of bass.

Both the Crossfade LP-2s and the have virtually no distortion.

While it's not perfect, the tracking response of the Crossfade LP-2s is quite a bit better than that of the .

Where the don't isolate much noise at all, the Crossfade LP-2s actually block out a decent amount of outside sound.

Even though comfort is largely subjective, using the runs the risk of your earbuds falling out all the time, the V-Moda cans will not have this problem. See if you can try both out at a brick and mortar store, but chances are probably good that if you like on or over ears, you'll stick with the Crossfade LP-2s.

While the V-Moda cans are certainly much more expensive, what you get for that money is style, extreme durability, and decent audio quality. You don't even have to sacrifice compatibility with your iPhone!

The certainly don't hang tough with the high-end of headphones that well, but they definitely punch out of their weight class when it comes to audio quality. Not only do the give their users a decent amount of bass, but they also have a super low amount of distortion: a drastic improvement over the old earbuds. Despite their issues with clarity and potential fit problems, Apple is shipping a serious pair of budget earphones with their newest iPhone.

It's important to note that, like the old Apple earbuds, the also has some questionable durability. You may or may not care, due to how cheap these earphones are, but don't expect these to last very long. To maximize their lifespan, try not to yank on the cables to remove them from your ears: it puts a lot of stress on an easily-breakable joint.

If you'd like to try them out for your media player or smartphone, the can be had for $30 from Apple. They're a serviceable, inexpensive pair of earphones, especially if you're not sure you want to make the high-end plunge right away. Just keep in mind that they won't last that long with regular use.

Meet the tester

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging


A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

See all of Chris Thomas's reviews

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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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