The Apple EarPods are simple but decent earbuds for casual listening. They're well-built, comfortable but not the most versatile headphones as their open fit lets in a lot of noise. They're also a bit too unstable to run with (unlike the Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless). But, on the upside, they're very easy-to-use, fit in almost any pockets and have a decent if slightly bass-lacking sound.
Decent for neutral and casual listening. They're comfortable and moderately well balanced in the mid-to-high frequency ranges, reproducing instruments and vocals with an above-average fidelity. That and the open fit give the impression of a wider soundstage that's good if you're listening in a quiet environment. However, they lack quite a bit of bass for those looking for slightly more punch in their audio.
Subpar for commuting. They are open headphones that barely block any noise, so they won't be suitable for the loud environments involved in commuting. Their only redeeming quality is that they're very portable and passive (no active features or battery life) so you can have them in your pocket at all times.
Average for sports. Although they're very portable headphones with an easy-to-use control scheme, they're a bit too unstable to be used for sports. They will quickly fall out of your ears during more intense exercises.
Mediocre for office use. They're comfortable to wear for long listening sessions and don't leak much, so they won't distract any of your colleagues. Unfortunately, they're also open headphones, which won't prevent noise from seeping into your audio. You can only receive audio when connected to a PC too, which is a little disappointing if you also need to take virtual calls at work.
Average for gaming. They have a wired connection, so they have negligible latency which is suitable for gaming. They also have a decent microphone and a comfortable design you can wear for hours. Unfortunately, they lack a good app to customize their sound profile and like most gaming headsets, their mic is not compatible with consoles.
The Apple Earpods are very comfortable earbuds with a decent build quality. They lack a bit of bass but should sound good enough for casual listening, and they're very portable. Unfortunately, they have no convenient active features, like wireless or noise canceling and their open one-size-fits-all design isn't as versatile as some of the other in-ear/earbuds. See our recommendations for the best earbuds, the best earbuds for bass and the best wireless earbuds for iPhone.
The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are significantly better earphones than the Apple EarPods. The EarPods have an open-back earbud design that delivers very little bass and isolates hardly any noise. This can actually be a good thing if you like to listen to podcasts while running outdoors, but if you prefer a better-balanced sound for listening to music, and need to block out external noise, the Pro are the way to go.
The Apple AirPods (3rd generation) Truly Wireless are better for most purposes than the Apple EarPods. The AirPods are truly wireless earbuds with better build quality, a more stable fit, and an IPX4 rating for water resistance. They also come with a more compact, sturdier case and have more extra features for Apple users, like virtual surround sound and head tracking. However, some may prefer the EarPods’ wired design. They have volume controls, unlike the AirPods, and their mic has a much better overall performance.
The Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless are better headphones than the Apple EarPods if you want a wireless design. The EarPods are wired, so they do not have the range and convenience of the wireless AirPods. On the upside, this also means they have no latency when watching movies. You also do not have a battery life to worry about since the EarPods are completely passive, unlike the AirPods. The AirPods, on the other hand, are a bit more stable for most listeners thanks to the absence of an audio cable. The AirPods are also a bit more practical for everyday casual use since they are truly wireless headphones with good battery life and a stable wireless connection.
The KZ ZSN are better-mixed usage and critical listening in-ears than the Apple EarPods. The KZ are noticeably better built, including more premium materials and a nice braided, detachable cable. The KZ have poor treble, while the Apple have poor bass performance. However, most people will find the Apple to be slightly more comfortable due to their one-size-fits-all design and microphone, which is useful for calls.
The Apple EarPods are slightly better for mixed usage than the Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds. The Apple earbuds are more comfortable and provide more accurate, open audio reproduction. They're also compatible with a greater number of devices courtesy of their analog audio connector, as the Google earbuds can't connect to devices that lack a USB-C port, such as iPhones. However, the Google headphones have a more stable fit, slightly better audio leakage performance, and a marginally better in-line microphone.
The Sony MDR-XB50AP Extra Bass are more versatile headphones than the Apple EarPods due to their closed-back design that isolates more ambient noise, which makes them more suitable for commuting. As their name suggests, the Sony have a very bass-heavy sound profile, while the Apple's open-design lacks sub-bass, but don’t lack detail in the treble range like the Sony do. Also, the Apple are more comfortable, if you can find a good fit. They have a decent in-line remote with volume control, which the Sony don’t have, disappointingly. The Apple have a decent microphone for calls, while the Sony are a more stable option for sports.
The KZ ZST are better headphones than the Apple EarPods. The KZ sound is better, and they also feel noticeably sturdier. However, some will prefer the one-size-fits-all design of the Apple, which seem to be more comfortable than the in-ear fit of the KZ. Also, the Apple have an open design, so this means they don’t block noise well and won’t be a good option for commuting. On the upside, they have an in-line remote and microphone, which the KZ model we’ve tested is lacking, though there is a variant that has them.
The Beats urBeats3 Earphones are better-mixed usage headphones than the Apple EarPods thanks to their great passive isolation. The Beats closed-back design blocks noticeably more ambient noise than the open-ear Apple, which makes them the better option for commuting and offers more bass. On the other hand, the Apple's one-size-fits-all design is fairly more comfortable. The stability fins of the Beats could help you find a better fit for sports activities.
The Bose SoundSport Free are better headphones than the Apple EarPods. The Bose are truly wireless, which is very convenient and portable, and have a great audio reproduction that is accurate and well-balanced. The Bose are also better-built and don’t have a plastic feel like the Apple. On the other hand, you don’t have to manage battery life with the wired Apple, and their design is very comfortable if you can find the right fit. They have a better microphone for calls, and their wired connection doesn’t have any latency, which is great for watching videos. If you’re looking for casual, everyday in-ears, the Apple are a decent option and might offer better value, but for sports or critical listening, the Bose will be better.
The Samsung Level U Pro Wireless are wireless headphones that are a bit more convenient for day-to-day casual use than the Apple EarPods, but the Apple are a decent option if you prefer wired headsets to wireless ones. The Apple have practically no latency when watching movies or gaming due to their wired design. They are a bit more comfortable, especially for those used to the Apple earbud fit. On the other hand, the Samsung are a lot more versatile. Since they're wireless, they have a greater range and support low latency codecs, so they're not as bad as some other Bluetooth headsets for watching videos. The Samsung also have a better-balanced sound that you can EQ with the Level app.
The Apple 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 Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless which look a bit awkward without the cables.
The AppleEarPods, like the Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless, 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 Apple 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 Apple EarPods are incredibly breathable headphones. They have no tips, and there are very few contact points with your ear. This makes them a bit less stable than other in-ear/earbuds, but they're also slightly more breathable. Overall, the temperature difference caused by the earbuds is very negligible even after a long and intense work out session.
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.
The Apple Earpods 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 Apple EarPods are similar to the Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless. 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 make them about average for their build quality and on par with some other in-ear/earbuds we've reviewed.
They have a unique fit that doesn't always accommodate different ear shapes and sizes. That and the lack of any additional tips for stability make 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 Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless 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.
Sub-par frequency response consistency performance. The Apple EarPods, unlike the wireless Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless, suffer from stability and fit issues which result in inconsistent bass and treble delivery across multiple re-seats and users. In the bass range, the maximum deviation at 60Hz is about 6dB, 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 could shift from being relatively neutral to overly-bright.
The bass of the Apple EarPods is sub-par. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 70Hz, which is mediocre. Accordingly, their low-bass is lacking by 12dB, which is due to their open-back and earbud design. This means they have very little sub-bass, and may not be able to produce the thump and rumble that is common in EDM, hip-hop, and film scores. On the upside, most genres of music don't have much sub-bass, and sub frequencies are quite hard to notice regardless. Because of that, the lacking bass won't be as bad as it looks in the graph. Additionally, the overemphasis in high-bass could make the sound a bit muddy and boomy but this usually happens if the buds are stuck or pressed up too much against the tragus of the ear. Also, their bass delivery varies significantly across users, and is sensitive to the quality of fit and seal. The response here represents the average bass response and your experience may vary.
The Apple EarPods have a good mid-range. Low-mid is quite flat and the 3dB overemphasis is actually the continuation of the high-bass bump. This could make the vocals a bit thick and the overall mixes a bit cluttered. The bump in high-bass adds some excess projection and intensity to the mid-range which will mostly affect vocals and lead instruments by nudging them towards the front of the mix.
The treble performance is good. The overall response is rather uneven and consistently over our target by at least 3dB. This gives emphasis to the vocals and lead instruments and makes the overall sound bright. However, they don't sound too sibilant (piercing on S and T sounds) like most in-ears, such as the X3 and the BeatsX, do. Also, their treble delivery varies noticeably across users. The response here represents the average response and your experience may vary.
The imaging is pretty good. Despite their small drivers and open-back earbud design, their weighted group delay is 0.28, which is within very good limits. The graph also shows that their maximum group delay (around 80Hz) is still below our audibility threshold. But note that the improved group delay below 80Hz doesn't really mean much here, since the earbuds can't really produce frequencies that low. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were quite well-matched which helps which the accurate placement and localization of objects (vocals, instruments, footsteps) in the stereo field.
The soundstage of the Apple EarPods, like most other in-ears/earbuds, is poor. This is because properly activating the resonances of the pinna (the outer ear) is one of the important factors in creating an out-of-head and speaker-like soundstage. Since in-ears and earbuds completely bypass the pinna, their soundstage tends to be perceived as small and located inside the listener's head. However, because of the open-back design, they tend to sound a bit more open and spacious that closed-back in-ears/earbuds.
The isolation performance of the Apple EarPods are poor. These earbuds are not designed to create an air-tight seal, and therefore, isolate very little. The don't achieve any isolation in the bass and mid ranges, which is important for cutting out engine noise and speech. In the treble range, which is important for reducing sharp sounds such as S and Ts, they achieve a poor 9dB of isolation.
The Apple EarPods have a decent leakage performance. Like other in-ears/earbuds, they don't leak below 1KHz. The majority of their leakage is concentrated around 6KHz, which is in the sibilance range and consists mostly S and T sounds. But because the level of leakage is rather loud, it will be audible to people around you if you blast the music. If you're looking for similarly-performing earbuds that do a better job of keeping audio from escaping, consider the Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds.
The recording quality of the Apple EarPod's in-line microphone is very good. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 285Hz, indicating a recorded/transmitted speech that sounds noticeably thin. However, their HFE (high-frequency extension) is at 13KHz, which is very good, and the range between LFE and HFE is quite flat too. This ensures a clear, intelligible and detailed speech transmission.
The noise handling capabilities of the mic are mediocre. In our SpNR test, they achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 14dB, which is below average. This suggests that this mic is best suited to quiet environments and may struggle to separate speech from ambient noise in louder environments.
These headphones are passive and have no battery life since they are wired.
These headphones have no compatible app and no active features. If you want a wireless headphone with a similar design and a few extra features on iOS, get the Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless instead.
The earbuds are wired and do not have a Bluetooth connection. If you want a similar design from Apple that has a wireless Bluetooth connection, then consider the Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless. See also our recommendations for the best sounding wireless earbuds.
The Apple EarPods have negligible latency because they have a wired connection.
Update 10/19/2021: Some users have mentioned that they can use their unit's microphone when connected to PCs. However, we tried this on multiple PCs and laptops and couldn't get it to work. We did find one solution online but it didn't work on our office PC. As a result, there hasn't been a change to our review.
You can connect these headphones to PCs via their 1/8" TRRS cable. However, they can only receive audio, so you won't be able to use their mic.
The Apple EarPods do not have a dock. If you need a headset with a dock that also has a wired connection for gaming or watching movies, then consider the SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition.