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 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 10/2/2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here
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 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 AirPods which look a bit awkward without the cables.
The AppleEarPods, 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 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 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 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 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.
The Apple EarPods are a mediocre sounding pair of open-back earbuds. Their bass is tight and punchy but lacks quite a bit of sub-bass. Their mid-range and treble are pretty good but they sound a bit forward on vocals and are a bit bright. Overall, they are not the best choice for bass-heavy music such as EDM, hip-hop, and film scores. But perfectly adequate for other genres such as classical, 70's rock or audiobooks/podcasts. Also, like most other in-ears and earbuds, they don't have a large and out-of-head soundstage.
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.
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.
Sub-par frequency response consistency performance. The Apple EarPods, unlike the wireless AirPods, 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 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.
Good harmonic distortion performance. The overall amount of harmonic distortion in the mid and treble ranges are quite low, regardless of the level, and within very good limits. However, in the bass range and under heavier loads, there is a rise in THD which suggests the EarPods struggle with producing those frequencies at very loud volumes. This also means that they won't respond well to an EQ boost in the bass range.
The Apple EarPods have an 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. Also, due to their small size, the leakage level is barely audible to the people around you except at high volumes.
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.
The Apple EarPod's in-line microphone has a decent performance. Speech recorded/transmitted with this mic in a quiet environment will sound a bit thin, but quite detailed, clear and easily understandable. In noisy situations however, they will have a hard time separating speech from background noise in relatively loud environments such a busy street.
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.
- 100% SpNR
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.
The Apple EarPods are passive and have no active features.
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 AirPods instead.
- 10% Bluetooth
- 32% Wired
- 10% Base/Dock
- 22% Wireless Range
- 25% Latency
The Apple EarPods are passive, wired headphones, so they only connect to other devices via their 1/8" TRRS audio cable. Unfortunately, the non-detachable cable is optimized for iOS and only provides audio compatibility with console controllers but no microphone input.
- 79% Multi-Device Pairing
- 20% NFC
- 0% PS4 Compatible
- 0% Xbox One Compatible
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 AirPods.
- 13% Analog
- 9% USB
- 26% PS4 Compatible
- 26% Xbox One Compatible
- 26% PC Compatible
These headphones have a 1/8TRRS audio cable with an inline remote microphone that is not compatible with consoles.
- 4% Optical Input
- 22% Line In
- 4% Line Out
- 22% USB Input
- 4% RCA Input
- 9% PS4 Compatible
- 9% Xbox One Compatible
- 9% PC Compatible
- 2% Power Supply
- 13% Dock Charging
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.
The Apple EarPods are wired and do not have a wireless range.
The Apple EarPods have negligible latency because they have a wired connection.
In the box
- Apple EarPods Headphones
- Carrying Case
Compared to other Headphones
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.
The Apple AirPods are the truly wireless variation of the EarPods. They're more stable since they do not have a cable that clings or gets hooked on your clothes. They're also one of the better designed truly wireless headset. However, since they are wireless, they have a bit of latency. If your use case is really latency-sensitive and you're on a tight budget, then the EarPods are a decent option, but for everything else, the Airpods are vastly superior and truly wireless.
The Beats X are versatile headphones with a good sound. They have a lot more active features and are better suited for more use cases. If you have the budget, then the BeatsX are a much better headphone than the EarPods, but since they're wireless, they do have a bit of latency.
The Samsung Level U Pro have a lot of features that make them better than the Apple Earpods. They sound better and isolate a bit more in noisy environments. You can also customize their sound profile but only on Android, which is a bit limiting for iOS users. If you're watching a lot of videos, then they may not be the best option because of their wireless latency but for everything else, the Level U Pro are a much better headset and they're not as pricey as some of the other wireless in-ear/earbuds.
The Mee Audio M9B are a budget wireless headset that isolates better and have a bit more bass than the Apple Earpods. However, they do not have an as comfortable fit, and since they're wireless, they have a bit of latency. If you need a budget headphone for sports, then the M9B are a good choice. Unfortunately, their short battery life may be a deal breaker for some, especially since the EarPods do not require power and can be on you at all times.