Skip to main content

Apple replaces iconic earbuds with ‘sound-funneling’ EarPods

earpods iphone 5 ipod iphone 5 earburdsFull Coverage From Apple's 9/12 iPhone 5 Launch EventThe little white earbuds Apple has been packaging with its iOS devices will be celebrating their 11th anniversary this October, but we don’t think anyone will be going to that party.  Not only are they some of the most reviled headphones ever made, but Apple just announced it will be replacing them with what it is affectionately calling the “EarPods,” and it’s about time.

The EarPods feature two obvious changes from their predecessors. First, rather than blasting sound at the outer ear the way the old ‘buds did, the new EarPods will channel sound toward the ear canal. Second, the EarPods are vented to allow air to escape as the little drivers (speakers) inside move back and forth. A vent on the back of the EarPod is said to improve midrange while dual vents at the bottom of the stem is intended to improve bass response. 

You can’t tell by looking at the EarPods, but according to a video posted on Apple’s website,  Apple performed a 3D scan on hundreds of ears in order to find some commonality among them in order to develop a form that would be suitable for a broad range of ears. “The shape of the EarPod is actually defined by the geometry of your ear,” says Apple’s Senior VP of Design Jon Ive, also noting that the EarPods were not designed to create a seal the way in-ear headphones do. Also different is a conspicuous lack of rubber and metal. The EarPods are made entirely of plastic. 

earpods iphone 5 ipod large iphone 5 announcementThe earbuds made their debut alongside Apple’s first iPod in October of 2001 (yes, it’s been that long). Initially, the white pieces of ear torture didn’t receive much criticism,  possibly because folks were so enamored with the novelty of the iPod itself . But once the honeymoon period was over, the public started crying out for something — anything — to replace them. Eventually, Apple’s stock earbuds became the butt of many a headphone reviewers jokes (yours truly included). It’s a wonder Apple didn’t jump on redesigning its bundled headphones years ago just to save itself some embarrassment.

Or is it? One could argue that, like the cheap cables that used to be bundled with our VCRs and DVD players, these “throw away” headphones may have, in a roundabout way, helped nurture what has become a massive after-market headphone market. Whatever the case, we’re glad to say goodbye to the old. Whether we welcome in the new will depend on how they sound. We’ve got a pair of EarPods on our way and we’ll be sure to let you know what we think of Apple’s redesign. 

Caleb Denison
Digital Trends Editor at Large Caleb Denison is a sought-after writer, speaker, and television correspondent with unmatched…
How long do Apple AirPods last?
Profile of a man wearing the Apple AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C and MagSafe case.

Apple AirPods are among the most popular (and most deservedly loved) wireless earbuds and headphones on the market. But wire-free listening, exceptional sound quality, and cutting-edge noise cancellation are laurels that wouldn’t be laurels without battery power. 

The lithium-ion cells that run your Apple buds and cans are finite energy sources, and not every AirPods battery behaves the same. So now you’re probably wondering how long your Apple AirPods are going to last. Our helpful guide answers that question and several others. 
Battery life of the AirPods 

Read more
Apple AirPods Pro will get head gestures and better calling with iOS 18
A person wearing the Apple AirPods Pro 2.

Along with a slew of new features for iOS 18, Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference keynote has given us a sneak peek at how the AirPods Pro will evolve come the fall.

One of the big changes is how you can respond to Siri's verbal options. For instance, when a call comes in and Siri asks if you'd like to accept, you can nod your head to do so or shake it to decline.

Read more
Apple AirPods 2 are $60 off at Best Buy right now
A person wearing the Apple AirPods Pro 2.

It’s no mystery that wireless earbuds are far more convenient than wired headsets, but they can also get pretty expensive. That being said, Apple and Best Buy are offering a solid markdown on the AirPods Pro 2 for a limited time. Normally priced at $250, you can nab them right now for only $190!

Why you should buy the Apple AirPods 2
Wireless earbuds are a dime a dozen these days, but no one does cord-free audio like Apple! The AirPods Pro 2 are the company’s flagship in-ears, and if you’re all about sound quality, these are the buds you’ll want to own. One of the driving forces behind this signature pair of AirPods is Apple’s H2 chip. This processing unit is responsible steers the ship on numerous AirPods Pro features, including overall sound quality and noise cancellation. In fact, in our AirPods Pro 2 review, we found the noise cancelling to be some of the best in the business. Say goodbye to engine rumbles, HVAC noise, construction sounds, and other distracting noises.

Read more