Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic (without Mic for the iPod Shuffle Generation 3, 2009)

These Apple earphones are a bit of an anomaly. The design is based upon its Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic that was sold independently and also included with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, and iPod touch (Generation 3). Each of those devices used a microphone. At the same time, Apple released the iPod Shuffle Generation 3 that did not have microphone compatibility. Instead of using an old earphones design, they instead produced the same design without a microphone.

This version of the Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic without a Mic lacks the small Mic hole in the housing on the right-ear wire. Previous Apple Earphone designs lacked the + and – volume controls and the microphone on models that included the Mic.

Of course, I would love to tear these apart or X-ray them to see if Apple left out the microphone, or simply covered the microphone hole in this version of the earphones.

Sources: Apple, Apple (via webarchive)

iPhone Stereo Headset (bulk packaging, 2007)

The iPhone Stereo Headset were the headphones that shipped with the first two iPhone models, the original iPhone (2007–2008) and the iPhone 3G (2008–2010). The headphones used a similar enclosed design as the later EarPods, and the right earbud included a control button with a microphone on the wire. The button is controlled by a squeeze and it can be set for a variety of tasks: answer/end calls, advance presentation slides, play/pause music/video, or capture photos. A double-press also allowed the user to skip to the next music track.

Note that the controller did not include the + and – option for volume and/or other controls, a feature now taken for granted in many headphone designs.

iLounge described these headphones as, “familiar and inexpensive, with very good earbud and microphone quality.” They also praised the bass response, warm sound, and the quality of the microphone.

This example is in Apple’s bulk packaging. I remember receiving the headphones when I attended an Apple Education professional development opportunity that required attendees to have a microphone. These were never unpackaged because I had brought and used my personal headphones.

Sources: Wikipedia, iLounge

Original iPod headphones (Generation 2, 2002)

The Original iPod headphones were the earbuds that shipped with the original iPod. They sounded quite good, shipped with two sets of black foam ear covers, were sometimes panned for not fitting some people’s ears, and came with the iPod at no additional cost so most iPod users used them.

Perhaps the most important, and in my opinion overlooked, feature of these headphones was not the specs, but the color. Soon after the iPod was introduced in 2001, an iconic ad campaign was released in 2003 referred to as “silhouettes,” created by the company Chiat\Day. In each commercial, poster, print ad, or billboard, the all-black silhouette of a dancer moved over a brightly colored background (hot pink, lime green, yellow, or bright blue) while the highly-contrasted bright white headphone wire and iPod moved along with the dancer. The effect was striking and the white cord color effectively called attention to the product nearly screaming, “I’m using an iPod!”

The white earbud design not only became permanently associated with “cool” Apple gear, but 20 years later is still being used as the only color choice for Apple-branded headphones, EarPods, AirPods, and likely future Apple headphone iterations. (Apple-owned brand Beats, however, does produce many headphone styles in multiple colors.)

According to my research, this particular example of the original iPod headphone design is a Generation 2 release, identified as such due to the addition of a plastic slider to adjust the gap between the headphone wires.

Sources: GQ, Wikipedia