AirPods don't hurt as much as EarPods, but they need an adjustment period

iPhone with AirPods
iPhone with AirPods (Image credit: iMore)

Apple's AirPods are awesome and have some amazing features, but they're pretty much the same size and design as EarPods. EarPods hurt (at least for some of us). So, it stands to reason that AirPods would, too — except they don't ... mostly.

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Always complaining about this big, big world

If you've followed what I write on iMore, you've probably realized that I'm one of those people that always complains about how big things don't fit me right. I've got small hands. I've got thin wrists. My feet are little. I might be giving you an incorrect image of my size. I'm not actually small. I'm about average (maybe slightly smaller than average), but my appendages run on the smaller size. So, I'm usually looking for accessories that fit children. It's no joke. I can fit comfortably into boys' size US 4 shoes.

I'm guessing that's why Apple's EarPods have always felt so uncomfortable to me. It must be that my ear canal is also smaller than average. The EarPods are hard, with absolutely no padding, so they cause me a lot of pain if I wear them for too long. I'll sometimes end up with a headache.

So, when Apple announced the new AirPods, I was both excited and disappointed. They have some amazing features, but they are also shaped pretty much the exact same as EarPods — they're actually a tiny bit bigger, but only on the part that doesn't go into your ear. Do I really want to spend $160 on a set of ear buds that hurt?

Why try?


Apple Watch and AirPods (Image credit: iMore)

So, why did I get them anyway? Well, my colleague, Rene Ritchie, noted that you don't feel like you have to shove them deep into your ears in order to keep them in place, since they don't have a wire pulling them downward. So, I decided to give them a try.

He is totally right. You can rest the AirPods right in the outer ear area and they don't slip down. You don't feel like you have to press them in deeper in order for them to stay in place.

But what if they fall out?


AirPods and Apple Watch (Image credit: iMore)

Because they don't have a wire attached to them, the AirPods don't pull down. There is practically no weight to them. But, because they don't have a wire attached to them, I am constantly worried they will fly out of my ears and into the street, under some passerby's tire.

Since they rest lightly in the outer ear, they are perfect for sitting at your desk or on the couch, or at a coffee shop. But, the moment I get up and start moving, I find myself pressing them into my ears again, which is when the pain starts.

In fact, when I'm walking with my AirPods in, I fiddle with them constantly, which makes them, 1. More likely to fall out, and 2. More likely to get pushed deeper into my canal. It's double the trouble.

Yes, the AirPods are more comfortable than EarPods — because you don't feel the need to push them into your ear very far. It really does help significantly.

Because they costs $160, however, and because they aren't attached to anything at all, I'm overly cautious about making sure they stay in my ears when I'm on the move. Do I have to push them deeper into my ear while I'm walking? No. But I worry about them flying out of my ears, so I do it anyway. That's not Apple's fault. It's mine.

Its an adjustment period


Apple successfully turned what I consider to be an awkwardly designed in-ear audio device into something I enjoy wearing 90 percent of the time. If you're like me and find EarPods to be uncomfortable, and you haven't bought AirPods because you're worried about them hurting your ears, I can confidently say they are significantly more comfortable. Not because Apple changed the design, but because you really don't have to push them deep into your ears, which keeps them from pressing on your ear canal.

I know I'll get more confident going on walks without feeling like I need to fiddle with my AirPods every few minutes. I've only taken them out of the house about a half-dozen times so far. Once I am more active without pushing the ear bud into my ear, they will be 100 percent more comfortable than their wired sibling.

If you're still concerned that you'll regret spending $160 on a pair of AirPods, only to discover you can't wear them because of the level of comfort (or lack thereof), you can take advantage of Apple's 14-day return policy and try them out for a while.

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Do you own Apple's AirPods? Do they fit comfortably in your ears? Tell us your experience in the comments section.

Lory Gil

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).