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Brand Is Life

I am presently undergoing a cutthroat search for a new pair of earbuds. Apple’s range was my first port of call, and if the past has served me well, this would be my safest option.

Whether connected to my iPhone, iPad, or MacBook, a pair of Air Pods are at home. They fit in. And they work, seamlessly jumping from one device to another as if they had grown to know each other's nuances and developed a deeper understanding.

Place the set in your ear, and that familiar noise welcomes you. A gentle hum caresses your ear canal, tentatively kissing your eardrum.

I’ve tried and tested a few other, more affordable brands, but I always find myself in the arms of this comparative and nostalgic comfort.

Then entered my conundrum; there are better earphones for less or near enough equal costs. Is brand more important than quality? Apple is far from poor quality, they’re market leaders in tech, but if we took a more esoteric approach to our research, we’d find that their competitors, a lot of the time, are just as good if not better.

Samsung, Sony, and Bose are all fierce opposing brands that combatively stand with Apple and, in some instances, out-perform.

Bose is the incontrovertible market leader in the noise cancellation race, with Apple’s most recent release not that far behind. The latest Bose QuietComfort Earbuds iteration possesses active noise cancellation that is well and truly unmatched, even with Apple’s best efforts.

The price difference is barely noticeable, the design is subjective, and the features are device-dependent. Still, the critical detail separating these two excellent audio-propelling gadgets is sound and sound quality. Bose takes the W. Indisputably.

For a more in-depth breakdown of codecs, stabilisers and other frighteningly confusing tech phrases, I recommend perusing through soundguys or whathifi take on the battle between these two tech beasts.

So why, with all of this information, do I find myself questioning my options? On a platform of subjectivity, I prefer the look and feel of Bose’s entrant, as they’ve eschewed the clinically smooth look of Apple’s whiteness with a choice of colour and satisfying bulk.

But it’s not enough. I’m leaning towards the fruitful fruit that is Apple for no reason more significant than the name. I’m a part of a culture now, and that means something. And maybe this is an innate way of thinking, spawned from my childhood, but mixing brands isn’t style. It may be function, but it certainly carries little form. It’s clunky and uncoordinated, unsightly on the eye, and resembles a lack of effort for me.

It could be harsh. But during my time as a basketball player, you wouldn’t dare turn up in a pair of Adidas socks and Nike trainers. I learnt the hard way–a deluge of criticism wholeheartedly gifted from my peers. Boys can be cruel, but a lesson was learnt; as nuanced as it may be, it was learnt.

I have subconsciously adopted this philosophy into other forms of life, mainly fashion, but on occasion, it becomes stripped down and used in the more mundane areas. It’s a lesson of simplicity and discipline. Find your look, whatever it may be, and stick with it. Don’t be greedy and incorporate multiple visuals into one, like some abstract Picasso painting. Keep it minimal.

So when it came to buying my tech, I inadvertently became more attracted to Apple products. It started with the iPhone, and then the MacBook, found a need for an iPad, and then the watch. Call it a natural progression, but I never even considered pining after a competitor's product. I had found my style and my brand, and that was enough. You needn’t care that Apple is a global corporation or that you could be considered a sheep. If it works and it elicits some joy, don’t change it. Thirteen years after my basketball debut and even considering a pair of hoop shoes outside Nike fills me with dread.

Perhaps, one day, I’ll venture outside the culture I have become a member of. And, maybe, it’ll make for a good article. But until then, I find myself purchasing the upgraded version of what I already have. No brave leap into the unknown, nor a timorous venture into new lands pathed by experts. Just a slightly better version of what I already have. Something familiar yet brand new.

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