About a year and a half after Apple unveiled EarPods, its redesigned earbuds that ship with all iPods and iPhones, Amazon answered back with a slightly cheaper pair of in-ear headphones that ship with the company’s first smartphone, the Fire phone.
Amazon’s Fire headphones look almost identical to Apple’s EarPods, but they’re black, magnetic, tangle-free, and $US5 cheaper than Apple’s $US30 product. Like EarPods, Amazon will also sell its headphones separately from the Fire phone, as well.
Audiophiles may opt for higher-end headphones, of which there are many, but casual listeners that don’t want to throw down too much money will want to consider these cheap in-ear solutions from Apple and Amazon.
Unfortunately for Apple, Amazon’s headphones have the upper hand — particularly in the design department.
Again, besides the colour, the headphones look exactly the same: They both feature front, rear and bass vents, although the primary acoustic outlet in the EarPods is slightly larger than in the Fire headphones (it doesn’t impact performance, however). Both headphones also feel extremely comfortable in one’s ears thanks to an ergonomic design that feels natural.
From a listening perspective, Apple’s EarPods and Amazon’s Fire headphones feature near-identical sonic quality. The frequency ranges and bass performances of both headphones are substantial, particularly for such cheap electronic accessories. Regardless of which pair of earbuds you buy, you’re going to be happy with how everything sounds.
EarPods and Amazon’s Fire headphones both feature microphones and multi-function buttons to control one’s music and phone calls, but in a somewhat comical move, the controls on the Fire headphones don’t work with iPhones (except play/pause), and the EarPods’ controls don’t work with the Fire phone (again, except play/pause).
With everything else being equal, Amazon’s headphones set themselves apart in two major ways: Its magnetic, tangle-free design, and its ever-so-slightly cheaper price point.
It’s typical for consumers to shove in-ear headphones into their pockets, even though it almost always results in a frustrating tangled mess of wires. It’s not fun spending time untangling your headphones multiple times a day, especially in public, when your immediate environment commands your attention more so than those finicky wires. But still, we put up with the tangling because listening to music, particularly on the go, can be fun and relaxing.
Amazon is aware of this tangling pain point, and solved it with its own pair of in-ear headphones. The headphones are always easy to unravel, even when hastily crammed into one’s pocket. The earbuds stick to each other (but not other things), and the flat wires help prevent knots from being formed. These two changes are subtle, but they make a big difference when it comes to customer satisfaction.
So if you’re considering buying a pair of cheap headphones, you may see Apple’s white EarPods dangling from many ears, but it’s worth visiting Amazon.com and checking out its cheaper (and arguably superior) black doppelgänger.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.