Apple iPod In-ear Headphones Review
Our in-depth review of the Apple in-ear headphones.
Tour & Design
These headphones are so commonplace that doing a tour is almost unnecessary. These are in-ear headphones that are a little more than 3.5 feet long. There are two ways to fit the headphones into the ear that Apple recommends; with the cable over the ear (on the left) or in front of the ear (on the right).
The buds themselves are predominantly white, with a metal ring placed just below the nozzle, and a metal meshing over the sound elements. The sleeves are shaped a bit differently compared to most: the top juts out a bit further than the bottom. This shape allows the sleeve to conform to the uniquely-shaped bud.
From the buds to the neck split, the cord is a bit thin. After the split, the two cords join into one round wire. The neck split is adjustable.
On the end of the cord opposite the buds is a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The plastic piece after the jack is thin and doesn't have a bend in it. This attribute allows these headphones to pair with devices that keep their ports at the bottom of a well that's recessed into the plastic.
In the Box
The iPod headphone box is sparsely inhabited. It comes with the headphones, three sets of sleeves (small, medium, and large) for different ear shapes, and a small square carrying case that holds everything together. This case also provides a cable wrap around the edge, which helps to keep the cable from getting tangled or twisted.
These are not very durable headphones, for reasons we'll mainly get into in the second paragraph. There are a few mediocre aspects to get out of the way before the debilitating ones, however. For starters, the cord is moderately thick and feels like it should survive some tugging and pulling. The neck split and neck slider are both made of a rubbery material, and will therefore stretch if you pull on their cords. Regardless of their malleability, they will both stretch if you pull the two bud-cords apart, but we didn't get the sense they would tear easily. Likewise, while the cord holds a bend slightly, there's no chance of it getting overly wrinkled and knotted. The sleeves stay on well, and seem to be durable.
Though the aforementioned characteristics aren't anything to necessarily worry about, the cord guards – specifically at the plug – are basically for show. At the ear buds this might not be a huge issue, but we remain confident the majority of these headphones will prematurely break because of issues with the plug. Picture your iPod or what-have-you pitching and rolling around in your pocket. Given that the headphones want to remain taut since they're attached to your head, the main point of stress is where the cable runs into the plug. Some plugs have a 90º bend or a robust cord guard for exactly this situation. The Apple In-ears, on the other hand, can bend incredibly sharply along the plug, causing internal wear-and-tear damage. Now, we don't expect a $30 pair of headphones to last forever, but several people in the office have had their Apple In-ears break either because of the internal wires fraying at the plug (wiggling the cord around at the plug would restore or remove functionality) or from the plug shearing clean off.
The iPod in-ear headphones suffer from Motorola Razr syndrome: they're omnipresent. When these first came out, they were nice-looking, matched the devices they were released for, and looked slightly different from other generic headphones. Since they've been given out like candy since then, they've saturated the market. Nothing can become so commonplace and not have its aesthetics suffer somewhat. We're sure many people prefer non-white headphones, just so they don't look like just another iPod user. iPod politics and market saturation aside, these are sleek and clean.
Also, like all in-ear headphones, there really isn't a lot visible to judge aesthetics on. If you don't mind the 'I'm on my iPod!' look, or want to assume/maintain it, these headphones will obviously do the trick. If you don't belong in this camp, you're probably actively avoiding white headphones.
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