Editors note: The following review has been updated to reflect compatibility with the Apple iPhone 3GS.
If you've outgrown the fashion appeal of Apple's stock earbuds and you're ready to step up to a proper pair of headphones, Apple's $79 In-Ear headphones are a killer upgrade. They're not going to make everyone happy, however, as some of the features included with the headphones will not work with older iPod and iPhone models.
Out of the box, the Apple In-Ear headphones include a plastic carrying case with a cable wrap, three pairs of silicone ear tips (small, medium, and large) and a set of replacement mesh caps that come in handy when earwax inevitably builds up. The earpieces are very light, comfortable, and stylish, and the cable runs around 3.5 feet long.
Unlike Apple's standard-issue earbuds, which rest just outside the ear, the Apple In-Ear headphones are intended to fit literally in your ears, similar to wearing a pair of earplugs. The three pairs of interchangeable silicone ear tips included with the headphones ensure that the earpieces completely seal your ear canal, isolating you from ambient noise and delivering better sound quality at a lower volume. While the earplug-like sound isolation provides a quiet backdrop for music listening, we don't advise wearing them for a morning jog, or any activity requiring some awareness of your surroundings.
Because the ear tips are made from a white silicone, they will discolor more quickly than the black and gray ear tips we're used to seeing from brands like Shure and Etymotic. In fact, if you've ever used a pair of Apple earbuds, you know that the all-white cable and earpiece design also tends to show dirt sooner than later.
An in-line clicker remote and microphone are included on these headphones, located on the cable about 4 inches down from the right earpiece. The remote includes plus and minus buttons for volume control and a central button for playing, pausing, and skipping songs. If you're using the In-Ear headphones with a first- or second-generation iPhone, the center button also works for answering or ending incoming calls; however, the volume control buttons will only work with the iPhone 3GS.