Apple made the decision to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack starting with the iPhone 7 line back in 2016. And despite the doom and gloom from many tech pundits who saw the move as anti-consumer, iPhone sales continue to grow.
What Are Lightning Headphones?
Lightning headphones, as you could probably guess by the name, plug directly into the charging port of your device.
A major advantage of Lightning headsets, compared to regular wired versions, is that manufacturers can use their own digital signal processor and digital-to-analog converter, also known as a DAC. That potentially means even better audio quality than the analog route.
But there is a major downside to Lighting headphones: you can’t listen to music and charge your device at the same time.
We’re taking a look at several non-Apple Lightning headphone options to check out. We’ll even show you how to keep your regular 3.5mm headphones and still use them with one of Apple’s latest iPhone models.
Part of Libratone’s Q Adapt line, the top feature of the Libratone Q Adapt in-ear version is four adjustable noise control levels. The first level is a pass-through that allows you to talk to people without taking off the headphones. With each consecutive level, the noise cancellation increases.
You can change the noise cancellation levels on the four-button control that also allows music lovers to play/pause music, change songs, answer calls, and invoke Siri.
Libratone promises a balance of bass, midrange, clear vocals, and crisp high tones. Buyers can select from four Apple-like colors: black, white, nude, and pink. And since in-ear options can be a finicky fit for some ears, the package includes three different sizes of interchangeable ear tips.
A great on-ear option, the Philips Fidelio M2L/27 features a built-in DAC for the best audio quality possible. Using 40mm drivers, the headphones are made for balanced and natural sound.
While there’s no active noise-canceling technology, an acoustic seal helps prevents outside noise from leaking in and music from flowing out.
To help provide a comfortable fit, the ear pads are made with breathable memory foam that disperses both head and pressure build-up. When it comes time to hit the road, the headphones are flat-folding, and you can store them in an included pouch.
The Audeze iSINE 10 in-ear headphones are unique in more ways than one. The first, and most obvious, is the design of the high-end option. The in-ear option looks like something from Star Wars.
But with that unique design, Audeze has managed to pack in technology usually reserved for over-ear or on-ear options. Special planar magnetic drivers promise better bass and transients and just a tenth of the distortion compared to other in-ear options.
The Lighting cable includes a built-in amplifier, DSP, and DAC. With the companion app, users can easily adjust the EQ settings stored in the headphones. Audeze also includes three different sizes of ear tips along with two sets of ear hooks and ear locks.
If you want to charge your iPhone while listening to music, the Pioneer Rayz Plus is for you. It’s currently the only Lightning headphone to offer the feature.
Another unique option of these headphones is the ability for them to respond to the “Hey Siri” command even when your iPhone is in a bag or pocket. That allows users to easily place a call, send a message, listen to music, and more, hands-free.
AutoPause technology will automatically pause media playback when you remove the headphones. Your music automatically resumes when you put them back in your ear. A special Smart Button on the Lightning plug is customizable. You can set it to bring up a specific app, mute/unmute phone calls, or launch the Rayz app.
Made for a workout or a run, the JBL Reflect Aware features active noise cancellation technology so you can control how much of the outside world you hear. You can change the noise cancellation on the headphone cable.
Along with being sweatproof, water resistant, and easy to clean, reflective cables will help keep you visible on the road. Wearers can find a perfect fit since JBL includes three sizes of regular ear tips and ergonomic sport tips.
Buyers can select from four different colors: black, blue, teal, or red.
If You Still Want to Use Regular Wired Headphones
For anyone still adverse to change who won’t (or can’t) give up their favorite pair of 3.5mm headphones, there’s still a way to rock out without much trouble.
While Apple does include a small 3.5mm adapter that can plug into the Lightning port, the Belkin 3.5mm Audio + Charge Rockstar offers a number of advantages.
Along with a 3.5mm headphone adapter, Belkin’s option also provides a Lightning dongle. That means you can listen to music and charge your iPhone at the same time. Just use a standard Lightning cable that comes with every iPhone.
The Rockstar also features a built-in DAC for the best sound quality possible. Belkin backs the adapter with a two-year warranty.
Wired Headphones for iPhones Live On
Even though Apple has moved on from the 3.5mm headphone adapter on the iPhone, there’s no need for you to cut the cord and go wireless. Whether you select a pair of Lightning headphones, or an adapter to use with a pair of standard wired headphones, enjoy your tunes.