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Can Apple's earpods be used with any smartphone, or are they specific for the iPhone only ?

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They can be used in any device that accepts a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack (and that's pretty much anything that has a headphone socket these days, alternatives include a smaller 2.5mm jack, or a much larger 1/4" one), although the inline controls may have limited use or operate differently depending on what you plug them into.

As to advanced features, this depends on a couple of things. The socket size is the most important consideration, but the next thing is the amount of "poles" that the headphones have, and that the socket supports. A "2 pole" device (3 separate contact areas separated by 2 solid line/band right around the jack) will provide for stereo sound (left/right/ground), adding a 3rd band/4th pole will add MIC functions and the ability to send controls from an inline controller for volume, track selection etc. For the latter, the actual commands sent down the connection may vary per device, giving you volume on one device, or tracks on another, but there are a couple of semi-unofficial standards in that it usually works OK across devices so long as the contact is there inside the socket to support the connection.

Standard    Tip         Ring 1          Ring 2  Sleeve          Phones using this Standard
CTIA / AHJ  Left Audio  Right Audio     Ground  Microphone      Apple, HTC, latest Nokia, latest Samsung, latest Sony (2012+), most Android phones

This page may help if you need to read more.

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  • Do the majority of smartphones come with a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack ? – Simon Aug 20 '13 at 11:18
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    Yes. I, for example, use my earpods as hands-free for 3 types of phones. Sound and microphone always works for me. – cyphorious Aug 20 '13 at 11:40
  • @cyphorious Excellent, another example of Apple recycling I guess. – Simon Aug 20 '13 at 11:53
  • @cyphorious I'm guessing the reverse is also true - that the majority of earphones will work with an iPhone as well ? Should I address that as a separate question ? – Simon Aug 20 '13 at 12:06
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    The earphones delivered with my Android do work with iPhone. Not the remote control, but audio and microphone (but the remote controls of the earpods also don't work with my Android). So we have a draw here :) ... the thing is: 3.5mm headphone plugs are standardized. That's why they should work on every input and output combined jack. – cyphorious Aug 20 '13 at 12:56
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Some models of Apple earbuds or in-ears like ME186LL/A were very popular in the past, have been critically looked at and are known to work with other smartphones. I couldn't find a complete listing or offical statements of which model supports which standard or if they all follow exactly the CTIA standard, though.

I got the earpods along with ME186LL/A and remember that the middle button was working on Android according to the Android specification. I still have the ME186LL/A which work the same way on Android and Windows Phone. In contrast Sony's MH1C have working volume buttons on generic Android devices and Windows Phone.

Offical statements or a crowdsourced list would be really nice to have.

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I agree with all that has been said here, however I tried using my Apple Buds with a Nokia Lumia phone, and there was an unbearable high pitched whistle that both parties could hear if you were on a call.... Therefore you can't guarantee that they will always work on all phones.

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