There is absolutely no doubt that Apple's new Earpods reveal a significant improvement for the little headphones that could. Both the more secure feeling in-ear fit and improved bass performance became instantly obvious when I gave the headset a hands-on review.
Apple's design includes small acoustic vents on the headphone added to improve air flow for richer bass — the impressive tone quality and sound distribution was not imagined when compared side-by-side with my 4S EarBuds. I also noticed improved high end and noise canceling with the more fitted ear design.
This $29 investment is not simply an upgrade in audio performance — the in-line volume control is bigger and feels more natural between the fingers. Some not so obvious upgrades in the headset were revealed in a painfully detailed Earpods teardown performed by iFixit.
“The new remote is better sealed against water damage, and features strain relief wrapping to increase the life of the cable. Paper speaker cones are more resistant to tearing than plastic, decreasing the likelihood of blowing out your drivers.” - iFixit
While iPhone 5 early adopters will have the new EarPods included with their upgrade, I would not hesitate plunking down an extra $29 dollars if you're a daily EarBud user and prefer to remain loyal to Apple's native headset with an earlier device.
Some serious attention has been given to the form and sound performance of these new EarPods — even though certain naysayers suggest buying something else for the same money.
I'm not as quick to to jump ship, especially since the Apple store is happy to replace a faulty headset at no charge with a simple Genius Bar visit. I just swapped out my old 4S EarBuds for a new pair this week — so I could do a proper side-by-side test with my EarPods.
Try trading in a wonky pair of Sennheiser headphones for a new set after using them for almost a year. That's just not gonna happen.