The Apple EarPods are simple yet well-designed and comfortable earbuds for casual listening. They're not the most versatile headphones as their open fit lets in a lot of noise, and they're a bit too unstable to run with (unlike the AirPods). But, on the upside, they're very easy-to-use, fit in almost any pockets, and have a decent if slightly bass-lacking sound.
- Great portable design.
- Simple and easy-to-use controls.
- Poor isolation from ambient noise.
- Easily falls out of your ears.
Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.
The Apple EarPods are sleek-looking and comfortable earbuds with a one-size-fits-all design. They're lightweight, easy-to-carry-around on your person and come with a stylish case that's portable enough to fit into most pockets. They're fairly sturdy, but the audio cable is a bit thin, making them not as durable as some of the other earbuds we've reviewed. Unfortunately, although the unique fit is incredibly comfortable, it's also quite unstable, which is not ideal for running or exercising.
The EarPods have a simple and sleek design reminiscent of most Apple products. The smooth finish and elegant form factor gives them a premium appeal to match their price. Furthermore, the understated and minimal aesthetic will work for some. They won't stand out in a crowd, despite their bright white color scheme, as they look like regular earbuds once in your ears. Unlike the AirPods which look a bit awkward without the cables.
The EarPods like the AirPods have a one-size-fits-all design that's quite comfortable provided you can achieve a good fit. They're super lightweight, and the smooth finish and form factor of the earbuds makes them barely noticeable once in your ears. You can wear them for hours and not feel the fatigue or soreness that some other earbuds induce.
The EarPod's control scheme is straightforward and efficient. They provide the essential functions; Track skipping, call/music, and volume controls. The buttons deliver a satisfying click when pressed, they're easy to use and sufficiently well-spaced out, to not cause any missed inputs.
The EarPods have a unique fit that doesn't always accommodate different ear shapes and sizes. That and the lack of any additional tips for stability makes them relatively loose in the ear canal even for those able to achieve a good fit. While this is good for comfort, it's not ideal for stability as even the lightest tug on the cable will pull the earbuds out of your ears. The AirPods mitigate this issue by being truly wireless, but unfortunately, the EarPods are not stable enough to run with and may even slip out of your ears during regular activities.
These are very portable headphones. They're lightweight, and like most in-ear/earbuds they have a small footprint, which means they will easily fit into almost any pocket or bag. They additionally come with a pretty good case that's also quite portable.
Comes with a transparent hard case that feels dense enough to protect the headphones from minor falls, scratches and water damage. However, the hard plastic used for the case is a bit more susceptible to cracking under moderate physical stress, unlike some of the other hard cases we have reviewed.
Design-wise the EarPods are similar to the AirPods, however putting the two headphones side by side you can see the improvements in both build quality and design. A lot more premium materials were used, and the plastic casing of the AirPods feels sturdier and thicker than that of the wired model. That and also the fact that the EarPods have a pretty flimsy cable makes them about average for their build quality and on par with some other in-ear/earbuds we've reviewed.
The EarPods have a decent sound that is nearly identical to that of the AirPods, but they perform less consistently due to their wired design which makes the fit less stable. They also have a decent Mid Range performance but lack low-end thump and rumble. The Treble Range pushes instruments and vocals a bit too forward in the mix which tends to make the overall sound a bit sharp and piercing. Also, although open sounding, they do not have much Soundstage and won't be the most immersive headphones for more critical listeners.
Poor Bass Range performance. The EarPods, are not designed to create an air-tight seal and because of that, struggle in low-bass. High-bass is overemphasized by about 3dB, which adds a bit of excess warmth to the sound but doesn't quite replace the lacking low-bass. It should also be noted that the the difference in Bass response and score between the EarPods and AirPods is mainly due to the EarPods being wired which has negative effect of stability and consistency of their fit.
Decent Mid Range performance. Low-mid shows about 3dB of overemphasis, which is the continuation of the high-bass bump. As mentioned in the Bass section, the EarPods perform very similarly to the AirPods and the difference here is mainly due to the fit/placement of the earbuds. Additionally, high-mid shows about 5dB of over-emphasis which tends to make the sound of these headphones forward and harsh, especially on voice and snare drums.
Average Treble Range performance. High-treble has an average of 5dB of over-emphasis which is the continuation of the bump from high-mid. This results in a noticeably bright sound that could border on being harsh, especially if the source material is already bright. The EarPods could also sound a bit sibilant and piercing to those with hypersensitive ears.
Poor Consistency. The EarPods, unlike the wireless AirPods, suffer from stability and fit issues which result in inconsistent Bass and Treble responses. In the Bass Range, the maximum deviation at 60Hz is about 5dB, which is noticeable and could be inconvenient. In the Treble Range, the maximum deviation increases to about 6dB at 3KHz and 9dB at around 9KHz. This amount of deviation in the Treble Range means that depending on the fit, the sound of the EarPods could shift from being relatively neutral to overly-bright.
Poor Soundstage. Since earbuds don't interact with the pinna, the EarPods perform poorly in the PRTF test. This means their Soundstage tend to be perceived inside the listener's head as opposed to in front. However, these earbuds are very open and as a result sound open and spacious since they let the outside ambience be mixed with the music. On the other hand, their minimal leakage means that they don't excite their environment in a way that loud open over-ear headphones tend to do.
Decent Imaging. The EarPods show significant phase shift below 100Hz, but humans are not very sensitive to phase shift in the Bass Range. However, the amount of phase shift in the Treble Range could skew the stereo imaging slightly.
Average harmonic distortion performance. At 90dB SPL the EarPods perform very well across the range, showing a negligible difference from the AirPods. However, under heavier loads there is a significant rise in harmonic distortion below 100Hz, since, like the AirPods, open earbuds struggle with producing a lot of low-end at high volumes.
The EarPods have a open fit that lets in as much ambient noise as an open-back over-ear headphone. They're not the ideal earbuds to use in loud, noisy environments and you may struggle to hear what's playing through the headphones when traveling or commuting via public transit. However, the lack of isolation does let you monitor your surroundings for traffic, and due to their small size, the leakage level is barely audible to the people around you except at high volumes.
Poor isolation. These earbuds are not designed to create an air-tight seal, and therefore, isolate very little. They only start to attenuate outside noise at around 2KHz, achieving an average of 9dB of attenuation in the Treble Range which is quite poor.
Decent leakage performance. The EarPods leak very little below 1KHz. Above 1KHz, they show a narrow peak of 70dB SPL at 4KHz which means people around you are going to hear high frequency S and T sounds leaking out of your earbuds. However, the level of leakage drops off quickly above and below 4KHz, making these headphones leaky only in the sibilance range and not overly loud.
- 100% SpNR
No active features.
No compatible app.
In the box
- Apple EarPods Headphones
- Carrying Case