Apple iPod In-ear Headphones Review
Our in-depth review of the Apple in-ear headphones.
The iPod headphones are pretty comfortable, but this is mainly because they don't fit very far into the ear canal. If you're used to ear canal intrusions, these headphones will feel like they're always on the verge of falling out. In fact, if there's any kind of cord movement, the buds will start to pop out of your ears. These are not headphones for joggers or silent ravers.
If you don't plan on moving around much, however, you'll find these headphones are comfortable enough. They don't put too much pressure on the ear, and are very smooth.
For testing extended use, we simply perform the comfort test again, but leave them in for six hours instead of one. Like before, the discomfort didn't come from pressure, it came from the constant need to push them back in or readjust them. The longer you wear them, the more times you'll have to pop them back in, or readjust them. If, for you, the annoyance in such a situation doesn't increase exponentially, then they'll be fine for extended use.
The iPod headphones' cable is about 1.95mm thick from the neck split to the jack, and 1.33mm in diameter from the neck split to the buds. This means the cable is robust enough to avoid any serious tangles, and won't hold a shape easily -- you shouldn't have much of a problem balling these up and shoving them into a pocket.
The cord is a little more than 3.5 feet long, which is a bit short. The distance from the neck split to the jack is slightly less than 2.5 feet, which means you really don't have much of a tether. This length pretty much limits the iPod headphones to either a portable media player or a laptop. This portion of the score is where these headphones lose the most points.
The jack casing is very thin, meaning these headphones will be just fine with an iPhone or other device whose port is recessed a bit into the device. This is a good thing; it would be a bit embarrassing if Apple's own headphones didn't work with their own iPhone.
Unfortunately, fresh-out-of-the-box iPod headphones don't have many customization options. There are three different sizes of sleeves included: small, medium, and large. That's it for pack-ins. The only other customization option is the cord's adjustable neck-split slider. There aren't any different types of sleeves or cord extensions.
iPod headphones are built to be portable. First of all, they're small, in-ear buds, so there's no band or ear cups to take up space. Second, the cord is short and easy to manage. There is also an included case which can store all the buds and the headphones themselves. It's shaped like a rectangular fishing reel, so you can easily wrap the cord around it, then drop the top on to hold everything secure. The iPod headphones are just about as portable as cord-based headphones can be.
...in theory. When you think 'portable,' it typically means you'll be moving in some way. Unfortunately, the iPod headphones have a really bad habit of falling out of place at the slightest tug. Falling out of place is almost as annoying as falling out of your ear entirely. If your ears are somehow able to get a good grip on these, consider yourself lucky, or consider your ears very sticky.
The iPod headphones do not come with any cleaning tools, so you'll have to find your own sterilization instruments. The sleeves do come off, and are made of plastic, both of which make them an easy clean -- we just wish the set came with some duplicates for easy replacement. The only guard between a filthy ear and the sound element, however, is a tiny circle of metal mesh that you can't remove. This could easily get blocked if you have gunky ears, or if something gets past that, then it's just a part of the headphones for good. Really, there isn't much a user has access to in terms of cleaning.
These headphones aren't dependent on a battery or other external source of power. Batteries are a pain, so we award points whenever we don't have to deal with them.
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