After test driving a few new cars at a local dealership, I decided to head to my nearest Apple Store to see if it had any of Apple’s new EarPods in stock. It did, and I bought a pair.

EarPods, in case you don’t know, are Apple’s new earbuds. The company is including them with a number of new devices, including the iPhone 5, 5th generation iPod touch, and 7th generation iPod nano. At its iPhone 5 event, Apple claimed that it spent three years developing the new buds; Apple seems to have wanted to get them perfect in terms of sound, comfort, and design.

So, question time: did Apple succeed? I’m here to tell you – but only if you read the rest of my review to find out!

Packaging

The all-plastic case that carries the EarPods is concealed in another box when you go to buy them. Unfortunately, it’s kind of a difficult box to open, and I ended up destroying it in the process. As a result of this, the picture above was taken with an iPhone 4S, right after I purchased them.

One of the coolest things about buying the EarPods separately is that you get a carrying case with your purchase. The carrying case also comes with the new iPhone 5, but the iPod touch and iPod nano just get the EarPods – and they don’t even include microphones.

It’s completely made out of plastic, but it’s hard plastic, and it protects the EarPods well. It also keeps them from getting tangled: you have to wrap each earpiece around through the middle, and then take the connected piece that comes as a result of that and twirl it around the base. It’s a difficult task to perform – and it’s a really tight fit – but once the case is closed, the EarPods will stay in place and will be protected.

Unfortunately, the back of the case gets scratched quite easily. It’s been in and out of my jeans about 50 times already, and the damage is quite noticeable. Still, it’s better to have a cheap case be scratched than your $30 earbuds.

You’re not buying these for the packaging, but they are packaged nicely – an Apple trademark, to be honest. And the case, although easily scratched, is a nice addition to the $30 package.

Design and Functionality

Apple made the EarPods out of a completely new design. Instead of the classic circle-shaped earbuds that Apple used to produce, these new earbuds are designed to fit in the human ear comfortably and securely. As such, the circle has been elongated to an oval shape.

The EarPods do actually fit in a number of ears, and they are actually incredibly comfortable. They may be made out of Apple’s signature white polycarbonate, but the buds still feel great while in your ear – and they don’t fall out, either, since they are designed to fit inside the ear.

The EarPods that are being sold separately and are included with the iPhone 5 come with a microphone and remote control. From here, you can control volume and play/pause controls, as well as voice control on your supported iOS device.

With the exception of a Siri-esque microphone being printed on the back of the microphone and remote piece, the design hasn’t changed from previous Apple earbuds. Every click is registered precisely and consistently, voice sounds clear, and it stays out of your way when you don’t need it. It’s a good thing Apple didn’t change anything – I’ve always been pleased with the microphone and remote piece of previous sets, and it’s the same way I feel about the new one.

Sound

Of course, the main reason you’re buying the EarPods is because you’d like to listen to your music. And if you’re going to drop $30 on a pair of earbuds, they’d better be relatively decent, right?

Right! Apple took a long time to redesign its iconic earbuds, but they sound fantastic. From the amazingly deep basses that this set of miniscule speakers can produce, all the way to the crisp, clean vocals, the EarPods are likely the best deal around at even $60, let alone $30. I own a couple pairs of Sennheisers (both in on-ear and traditional earbud varieties) and Apple’s offerings trump both of them.

In fact, it’s gotten to the point that if I want to rock out to any type of music, I’ll grab my EarPods and listen to music through them, versus my Creative T12 speakers or either pair of Sennheisers. Every beat, every word – they’re all more accurately represented on the EarPods than any of my current listening devices. And instead of the $60 Senns, I paid just $30 for these.

Conclusion

With Apple-made earbuds, it used to be that you’d only listen to them when you couldn’t find your other headphones, or perhaps on the way home from the store from which you bought your new iDevice. Apple employees probably did the same thing, which is why the team went back to the drawing board three years ago and designed a killer new set of earbuds.

If you’re looking for a new set of earbuds that won’t leave you broke and that sound really good for the money, I suggest you head over to your local Apple Store or Authorized Retailer and see if it has a pair in stock for you.