Apple’s EarPods

Apple EarPods.

Last fall, Apple unveiled new headphones—finally replacing the iconic white earbuds with a more streamlined design. The Cupertino company marketed these “EarPods” as a “revolution”: more comfortable and better-sounding than anything else out there.

When I upgraded to the iPhone 5 last September, EarPods were bundled in the box. And—despite Apple’s marketing hype—I didn’t notice a huge difference in comfort or sound quality.

Still, after a year of headphone (ab)use, I would wholeheartedly recommend the EarPods, even as a standalone purchase. They’re the first headphones I’ve owned to survive the “real-life” test.

I take my iPhone on runs; podcasts help distract me from how much I hate exercising, and I like to track my pace. But jogging wreaked havoc with Apple’s old earbuds. Sweat would trickle down the cord, splash into the remote, and (eventually) short out the buttons and microphone. I was left with permanently defective headphones.

That hasn’t happened with the EarPods. Even in sub-freezing temperatures, even when drenched with sweat, I can pause, fast-forward, and trigger Siri, without any trouble. The buttons continue to work flawlessly. I haven’t noticed any degradation in sound quality, either.

Another beneficial change: the old earbuds, which balanced precariously on the edge of my ear, often fell out as I ran. The EarPods’ streamlined shape lets them slip deeper into the ear canal. This provides just enough friction to keep them in place.

There’s a downside to that in-ear design, however. The EarPods collect earwax like mad. The tapered shape scrapes your ear canal clean and coats the speaker grill with orange-brown grossness. My recommendation? Don’t borrow your friend’s EarPods, unless you want ear lard trickling towards your brain.

Instead, buy your own!