Phone Reviews: iPhone Headphones, Dock & Charging

The headphones

The iPhone comes bundled with a standard set of iPod earbuds, but there are two differences from the kind that comes with your regular old iPod. First, these earbuds don't have the small plastic cable separator slide that helps keep your cables from getting tangled. Second, on the right channel cable about halfway up you'll find a very slim, discreet mic / music toggle. When listening to music, click it once to pause, or twice to skip tracks; when a call comes through, click it once to pick up, and again to hang up.

That same in-line piece also picks up your voice for the call, and it sounds pretty good -- some people on the other end of the line said it sounds even better than the iPhone's integrated mic. For those worried that there would be issues with interference, put your mind at ease. We heard absolutely no cell radio interference over the headset, even when we wrapped it four times around the iPhone antenna, and sandwiched it between a second cellphone making a call. The headphones are an essential and amazing accessory that makes the seamless media and phone experiences of the device possible. We only wish Apple managed to integrate an inline volume switch in there too, since that's really the only essential control it lacks.

Unfortunately for us, iPod headphones just don't fit our ears, so no matter how good they may sound, they're unusable since we can't seem keep them in longer than 30 seconds. (We typically prefer canalphones, they can't really go anywhere.) Since the included headphones are the only ones on the market right now that can interact with the iPod function, have an inline mic, and, of course, listen to audio, you're kind of stuck with Apple's buds if you want to get the most out of your iPhone. The same also applies to the expensive phones you invested in, which probably won't fit in the recessed jack anyway: even if you get an adapter, you still won't get the full experience.

Apple's included headphones are about 42-inches long (3.5 feet), just about the perfect length to reach from your pocket to your head with a little extra slack. You'd be surprised how many cellphone manufacturers screw this up with bundled headphones that are way too long, or way too short.

The dock, charging

The included dock is up to par for Apple's typically high standards -- it feels very solid and sturdy with no visible mold lines, and is capped on the bottom by a solid rubber base (with a nearly hidden vent for letting sound in and out of the iPhone's speaker and mic) to keep it in place. On its rear is the usual cable connector and line out. We thought the dock props the iPhone way too vertically -- about 80°, significantly more upright than the stock iPod dock we compared it to. If you're using it on a desk, you'll probably wish Apple angled it back a little so you're not leaning over to fumble with your phone like some miniature monolith.

Charging the iPhone is an easy enough affair. Pulling power from its adapter (and not a computer's USB), we were able to quick-charge it from 0% to 90% in just under two hours, but it took us almost another hour and a half to get that last ten percent. We also twice ran into this weird bug, where charging the iPhone from 0% power would deactivate the screen. The only way to recover was to soft-reset the phone. No big deal, just irritating. It's probably also worth mentioning that going from totally shut off to fully booted, the iPhone is up and running in under 30 seconds.

Other accessories
Apple also includes a microfiber polishing cloth -- a welcome addition, but the device's sturdy glass will stand up to rubs on most of your clothes, so don't bother carrying it along if you're planning to just brush off some dust or residue left by your face / ears / fingers, etc. Also included is an extremely small power brick, and USB connector cable. Worth noting: the iPhone connector cable doesn't include tensioned clips, like most iPod connectors -- just pull it out, nothing messy to get caught and broken, and fewer moving parts in general.


Download Resources: