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Apple headphones

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Apple EarPods, introduced on September 12, 2012
Earbuds that shipped with the second generation iPod Touch and third generation iPod Shuffle

Apple Inc. has produced and sold headphones since 2001, available for standalone purchase and bundled with iPhone (until 2020) and iPod (until 2022) products. Apple's current product line consists of EarPods (wired earbuds available with a 3.5mm headphone or Lightning connector or USB-C), AirPods and AirPods Pro (wireless Bluetooth earbuds), and AirPods Max (wireless Bluetooth over-ear headphones).

Wired headphones[edit]

Classic round earbuds[edit]

Comparison of early and later iPod earphones

Apple's original earbuds shipped with the original iPod, released on October 23, 2001. They were never given a formal name and were referred to variously as "iPod headphones"[1] and "the iPod's earbud-style headphones".[2] They were bundled with two pairs of foam covers.[3] The second generation added a plastic slider to allow the user to limit the gap between the wires. The third generation were redesigned with a slightly longer strain relief, a slightly smaller speaker grill, and the left/right marking being moved from the outside to the inside.

iPhone Stereo Headset[edit]

The iPhone Stereo Headset was introduced in 2007 and was bundled with the original iPhone and iPhone 3G, and featured a control capsule in-line with the left earbud's wire with a microphone and a single button, actuated by squeezing the unit, which can be programmed to control calls, presentations, music and video playback, launch Siri, or take pictures with the Camera application. There was also a version without the microphone that was more rare. There have been many reports of moisture problems with the remote/mic.[4]

iPod In-Ear Headphones[edit]

iPod In-Ear Headphones were introduced in January 2004 as premium headphones compared to those bundled with iPods, and were available for $39. They included three different sized plastic caps, and Apple claimed improved sound quality and bass response. They were discontinued in 2008.[5]

Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic[edit]

Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic were introduced in 2009 and were bundled with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, the third-generation iPod Touch, and sold independently.[6] They expanded on the iPhone Stereo Headset by adding two other buttons dedicated to volume control. A variant without a microphone shipped only with the third-generation iPod shuffle.

Apple In-Ear Headphones[edit]

Apple In-Ear Headphones[7][8] were introduced on September 9, 2008, intended as a premium option compared to Apple's bundled earbuds. Like the regular earbuds they have a remote control and microphone built-in. They add silicone ear tips and dual balanced armature drivers advertised as "engineered for superior acoustic accuracy, balance, and clarity".[7] The remote and protective case was redesigned on September 12, 2012, with the remote matching that of EarPods. Apple has since removed them from their online store.


Apple EarPods in their box

EarPods[9] were introduced on September 12, 2012 and feature a redesign with no silicone tips, less visible metal, and a plastic outer shell. They first shipped with the iPhone 5 and feature a remote control and microphone. They also shipped with the iPod Touch (5th generation) and iPod Nano (7th generation) without a remote and microphone. EarPods are also individually sold with a carrying case, while the version bundled with the iPod Touch (5th generation), iPod Touch (6th generation) and iPod Nano (7th generation) only have basic biodegradable packaging, due to their lack of a remote and mic. A microphone icon was added on the previously unmarked back side of the control capsule on EarPods with a microphone.[10] They are compatible with iPhones from the iPhone 3GS to iPhone 6S, the iPod Touch (2nd generation) and onwards, and all models of the iPad, iPad mini, and iPad Pro, except the third and fourth generation iPad Pro. They require iPhone OS 2.2 and onwards for iOS devices but are not compatible with the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, or iPod Touch (1st generation) due to sound problems. They are also compatible with most Android devices and computers.

A second iteration, EarPods with Lightning Connector, was introduced in 2016 along with the iPhone 7 and replaced the 3.5mm headphone jack with a Lighting connector. They work with all devices that have a Lightning port (except iPad mini (1st generation) and iPod touch (5th generation)) and support iOS 10 or later. The previous EarPods were rebranded as "EarPods with 3.5mm Headphone Plug". Since early 2017, both products now lack a carrying case, instead being sold in recyclable cardboard packaging.[11][12]

Following the release of the iPhone 12 series in 2020, EarPods are no longer bundled with iPhones in most countries except where required by law.[13] Following the discontinuation of the iPod line in 2022, EarPods are only available as a standalone purchase.[14]

A third iteration, EarPods (USB-C), was introduced in 2023 along with the iPhone 15 series and have a USB-C connector.[15][16]

Lightning to 3.5mm dongle[edit]

Apple's iPhone 7 and newer models lack a headphone jack (released in September 2016), and until September 12, 2018, included a Lightning to 3.5mm dongle.

iPhone models from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone X also shipped with a Lightning-to-3.5mm headphone jack adapter, enabling customers to connect 3.5mm headphones to a Lightning port. Thanks to an iOS update (iOS 10.3), it is backwards compatible, meaning it can be used with any previous device with a Lightning port (from iPhone 5 onwards). It is no longer included as of the iPhone XS and iPhone XR, but remains available for purchase from Apple and third-party retailers.[citation needed]

Wireless headphones[edit]

iPhone Bluetooth Headset[edit]

iPhone Bluetooth Headset

The iPhone Bluetooth Headset was introduced in 2007, priced at $129 and later reduced to $99, and discontinued in 2009. It was designed for phone calls only and could not be used for listening to music. It was bundled with a "Travel Cable" that charged it and a 30-pin iPhone simultaneously, and a docking station called the iPhone Dual Dock that could charge it and an original iPhone was also available.[5][17]


Apple AirPods and case

AirPods were announced alongside the iPhone 7 and were released on December 16, 2016.[18][19] They are wireless earbud-style headphones with microphones, dual accelerometers, IR sensors used to pause music if they are not in the user's ears, and motion touch sensors that are used to activate controls. They are advertised as having a battery life of five hours, and come with a charging case that gives them a total of 24 hours of battery life. The original case is charged by Lightning, and in 2019 a second case was introduced with Qi charging. AirPods are compatible with iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Macs, the 6th generation iPod Touch, and the 7th generation iPod Nano, but automatic pairing with an iCloud account requires macOS Sierra, iOS 10, and watchOS. They are also compatible with devices on other platforms that support Bluetooth, but it limits the AirPods' functionality.[20][21]

AirPods Pro[edit]

AirPods Pro were released on October 30, 2019 as a premium option compared to AirPods. They use the same H1 chip found in second generation AirPods, and boast a slimmer design, active noise cancellation, adaptive EQ, IPX4 water resistance, a new charging case with Qi standard, and include silicone tips.[22]

AirPods Max[edit]

AirPods Max, released on December 15, 2020, are wireless Bluetooth over-ear headphones. They feature two H1 chips, active noise cancellation and transparency mode, a Digital Crown and on-head detection.[23][24][25][26]

Comparative technical specifications of all AirPods models
In production Discontinued Vintage Obsolete[27]
Model iPhone Bluetooth Headset[28] AirPods
(1st gen.)
(2nd gen.)
AirPods Pro
(1st gen.)
AirPods Max AirPods
(3rd gen.)
AirPods Pro
(2nd gen.)
Timeline Announced January 9, 2007[29] September 7, 2016 March 20, 2019 October 28, 2019 December 8, 2020 October 18, 2021 September 7, 2022
Released June 29, 2007[29] December 13, 2016 October 30, 2019 December 15, 2020 October 26, 2021 September 23, 2022
Discontinued March 23, 2009[29] March 20, 2019 In production September 7, 2022 In production In production In production
Model Model number A1221 A1722 (left AirPod)
A1523 (right AirPod)
A1602 (Lightning case)
A2031 (left AirPod)
A2032 (right AirPod)
A1602 (Lightning case)
A1938 (wireless case)
A2084 (left AirPod)
A2083 (right AirPod)
A2190 (case)
A2096 A2564 (left AirPod)
A2565 (right AirPod)
A2897 (Lightning case)
A2566 (MagSafe case)
A2931, A2699, A2698 (AirPod serials)
A2700 (Magsafe case)
A2968 (USB-C case)
Model identifier [data missing] AirPods1,1 AirPods2,1 iProd8,1 iProd8,6 AirPods1,3 AirPodsPro1,2 and AirPods3,1
Order number MA817AM (with iPhone dual dock)
MB536AM (without iPhone dual dock)
MMEF2AM MV7N2AM (Lightning case)
MRXJ2AM (wireless case)
MWP22AM MGYJ3AM (silver)
MGYH3AM (space gray)
MGYL3AM (sky blue)
MGYM3AM (pink)
MGYN3AM (green)
Compatibility Bluetooth 2.0 iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models with iOS 10 or later, Apple Watch models with watchOS 3 or later, and Mac models with macOS Sierra or later.[30] Devices running iOS 12.2 or later, macOS Mojave 10.14.4 or later, and watchOS 5.2 or later.[31] Devices that support Bluetooth, including Android and Windows devices, although certain features such as Siri require an Apple device running iOS 13.2, watchOS 6.1, tvOS 13.2, and macOS Catalina 10.15.1 Devices that support Bluetooth, including Android and Windows devices, although certain features such as Siri require an Apple device running iOS 14.3, iPadOS 14.3, watchOS 7.2, tvOS 14 or macOS Big Sur.[32] Devices that support Bluetooth, including Android and Windows devices, although certain features such as Siri require an Apple device running iOS 15.1 or later, iPadOS 15.1 or later, macOS Monterey 12.0 or later, and watchOS 8.1 or later.[33] Devices that support Bluetooth, including Android and Windows devices, although certain features such as Siri require an Apple device running iOS 15.1 or later, iPadOS 15.1 or later, macOS Monterey 12.0 or later, and watchOS 8.1 or later.[33]
System on a chip None Apple W1 chip Apple H1 chip (343S00289, 343S00290) Apple H1 chip Apple H1 chip (343S00404) Apple H1 chip Apple H2 chip
Battery Battery strength [data missing] 1.52-watt-hour (case)
0.093-watt-hour (each AirPod)
1.98-watt-hour (case)
0.16-watt-hour (each AirPod)
2 x 2.53-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-ion (right ear cup) 1.33-watt-hour (case)
0.133-watt-hour (each AirPod)
1.997-watt-hour (case)
Battery capacity No case 398 mAh (case) 519 mAh (case) 664 mAh (right ear cup) 345 mAh (case) 523 mAh (case)
Firmware Original release Not upgradable 3.3.1 6.3.2 2B584 3C16 3E751 5A374
Latest / final[34] 6.8.8 6A321 6A325 6A321 6B34

In popular culture[edit]

Apple's white earbuds are prominently featured in the majority of their distinctive "silhouette style" iPod advertisements.[35][36] Most often as a dancing black figure in [silhouette] with a starkly contrasted white earbuds and cord while holding a white iPod.[35] The background is usually another bright colour so the iPod and headphones clearly stand out compared to the rest of the image.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Apple - iPod. 30 September 2002.
  2. ^ Apple - iPod. 5 June 2003.
  3. ^ "Apple iPod shuffle 2G Review". IT Pro. November 4, 2006. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  4. ^ Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic Lowest Ratings Archived April 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b Steeber, Michael (March 19, 2018). "Revisiting the forgotten history of obscure Apple accessories". 9to5Mac. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
  6. ^ "Compatibility of Apple wired headset models with iPhone, iPad, and iPod models". Apple Support. September 9, 2016. Archived from the original on June 9, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic, Apple Store
  8. ^ Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic, Amazon.com
  9. ^ "Apple EarPods with Remote and Mic". Apple Inc. Archived from the original on September 8, 2016. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  10. ^ Are Your Apple Headphones Real or Fake?
  11. ^ "Do EarPods not come with a carrying case anymore?". Reddit — /r/iPhone. April 21, 2017. Archived from the original on May 21, 2020. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  12. ^ "New Apple EarPod Packaging". Imgur. April 22, 2017. Archived from the original on April 1, 2021. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  13. ^ "iPhone 12 comes with free EarPods in France thanks to radiation laws". Engadget. October 15, 2020. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  14. ^ Andronico, Mike (May 10, 2022). "The iPod Touch is being discontinued — here's how to still buy one (and why you should)". CNN Underscored. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  15. ^ "EarPods (USB-C)". Apple. Retrieved September 12, 2023.
  16. ^ Peters, Jay (September 13, 2023). "Apple now finally sells USB-C EarPods". The Verge. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  17. ^ tech.co.uk staff (November 13, 2007). "Apple iPhone Bluetooth headset review". TechRadar. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
  18. ^ "Apple - Press Info - Apple Reinvents the Wireless Headphone with AirPods". www.apple.com. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  19. ^ Adi Robertson (December 13, 2016). "Apple's wireless AirPods are now on sale". The Verge. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  20. ^ Ashley Carman (September 7, 2016). "Apple AirPods are truly wireless earbuds". The Verge.
  21. ^ Ina Fried (September 7, 2016). "Apple's AirPods do use Bluetooth and they don't require an iPhone 7". Recode.
  22. ^ "AirPods Pro Review -TekClue". November 9, 2020.
  23. ^ Welch, Chris (December 8, 2020). "Apple announces $549 AirPods Max noise-canceling headphones, coming December 15th". The Verge. Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  24. ^ "Apple Announces AirPods Max Over-Ear Headphones With Noise Cancellation, Priced at $549". www.macrumors.com. December 8, 2020. Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  25. ^ Sherr, Ian. "Apple announces $549 AirPods Max over-ear headphones, preorders today, launch Dec. 15". CNET. Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  26. ^ Keith, Jeremy. "Consideringapple". Retrieved September 23, 2023.
  27. ^ "Vintage and obsolete products". Apple.
  28. ^ Included for comparison purposes
  29. ^ a b c "iPhone Bluetooth Headset – Specs, Release Date, and Original Price". August 14, 2020.
  30. ^ "AirPods (1st generation) – Technical Specifications". support.apple.com. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
  31. ^ "What's the difference between AirPods 1 and AirPods 2?". iMore. January 22, 2020. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
  32. ^ "Set up AirPods Max with your Mac and other Bluetooth devices". Apple Support. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  33. ^ a b "Get started with AirPods (3rd generation)". support.apple.com. Retrieved March 22, 2022.
  34. ^ "About firmware updates for AirPods". Apple Support. Apple Inc. April 2, 2024. Retrieved May 21, 2024.
  35. ^ a b Segall, Ken. Insanely Simple, The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success.
  36. ^ a b "The iPod Silhouettes", The Pop History Dig