Are Wired Earbuds Making a Comeback?

Wired earbuds may still have a place in a market dominated by wireless listening technology.


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More and more people have been purchasing wireless listening technology such as Apple’s AirPods, but there are reasons why wired earbuds have yet to go obsolete.

It’s 7:00 a.m., and Bronx Science student Iskander Khan ’22 rushes down the subway steps at 59th Street, in a last-minute attempt to catch the Number 4 train to school. With one minute left, and Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’ playing through his wired earbud speakers, Iskander frantically swipes his MetroCard. As he passes through the turnstile, a sharp tug keeps him from moving all the way through. He looks down to see the wire from his headphones caught on the metal bar, while the train doors close in front of him. 

In 2022, this seems like a problem that should have been left in the past. A third version of Apple AirPods came out in November 2021, Beats wireless headphones came out more than five years ago, and wireless listening technology was one of the most popular holiday gifts purchased this year. So why do students like Iskander Khan continue to put up with the shortcomings of wired earbuds?

“I just like the style of the wired apple earbuds better,” said Khan. “I think wireless looks kind of funny, and I prefer the more classic look. It also reminds me of my middle school days and feels nostalgic in a way.” 

It seems that Khan may not be the only one looking to bring back the ‘old school’ manner of listening to music on the go. 

At Best Buy in Bronx Terminal Market, employees stayed overtime in order to prepare the store for Black Friday on November 26th, 2021 which included tidying up the section of the store that sells wireless listening technology, which were expected to be big sellers. However, store employee Ignacio was surprised to see that some customers weren’t interested in the wireless options. 

“A lot of people who come in the store ask me if we have the Apple earbuds with the wires, and I have to tell them that we don’t even carry those anymore. They have no purpose. We haven’t even carried them since 2018!” 

So what is standing in the way of a complete wireless listening revolution? Well, for students such as Khan, older Apple listening products allow for a certain “ throwback look” that AirPods just can’t touch. 

Mia Goldberg ‘22, has even taken this nostalgia one step further. Goldberg sports a 2009 Ipod shuffle.

For many, however, the practicality of the classic wired earbuds is what keeps them attached. “The wired Apple earbuds are much cheaper than the Apple AirPods, and they serve the same purpose. I don’t really see a reason to switch,” said Genevieve Morange ’22. 

“Apple AirPods are small and slippery, and I could see myself losing them pretty easily. My wired earbuds are always easy to keep track of,” noted Khan.

Despite the remaining wired earbud loyalists, there are some students who have hopped onto the wireless bandwagon and are not looking back. “My AirPods are noise canceling, they have better sound quality, and they have a much more subtle look to them than clunky wired earbuds or headphones,” saidTover Feist ’22, who received his AirPods as a Hanukkah gift. 

Though wired listening technology is a surging market that promises to attract more consumers over the coming years, it seems that the wired look is here to stay, at least for a while.

“I think wireless looks kind of funny and I prefer the more classic look. It also reminds me of my middle school days and feels nostalgic in a way,” said Iskander Khan ’22.