For the millions who groaned in dismay when Apple did away with the headphone jack on its iPhones when it debuted its iPhone 7 back in 2016, a headphone adapter for iPhones is an affordable solution to right this wrong. This simple device consists of two ends — a male lightning cord end and a female 3.5-mm headphone jack. The jack attaches a set of corded earbuds or headphones to the charging port on the iPhone, eliminating the need to invest in a set of Bluetooth headphones.
Although this device looks simple enough, there are numerous options on the market, which can make choosing the right one more confusing than one might think. This guide will examine the characteristics one should consider when shopping for the best headphone adapters while reviewing some of the best options on the market.
— Best Overall: Jsaux Lightning to 3.5 mm Adapter
— Best for Stereo Headphones: MOBOREST 3.5 mm Pure Copper Adapter
— Best With Charger: Belkin 3.5 mm Audio + Charge Splitter
— Best Design: Mangotek Lightning to 3.5 mm Female Jack iPhone Adapter
— Best Budget: Apple Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter
How We Picked the Best Headphone Adapters for iPhones
As one who is as of yet unwilling to make the leap (or financial investment) in a set of AirPods—I use an adapter to connect my old-fashioned earbuds to my iPhone—I know what factors are important when shopping for the right adapter for the job. In researching dozens of adapters, I used the following criteria to make my list:
Durability: As with charging cables, adapters must endure being yanked and stretched in all directions. As such, I only chose models designed to hold up to daily abuse without quitting.
Size: The cord that attaches the headphones or earbuds to the iPhone is already enough to manage. An adapter should add as little bulk and length to the cord as possible.
Compatibility: As with aftermarket power cables, not all adapters work well with the iPhone. As such, I only chose models that had Apple’s MFi certification.
Sound Quality: Since these adapters are designed for headphones and earbuds, sound quality is an important factor. Only adapters that offered excellent sound quality were selected for the list.
The Best Headphone Adapters for iPhone: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Jsaux Lightning to 3.5 mm Adapter
Why It Made The Cut: An iPhone adapter should be able to endure a lot of abuse and this is one of the toughest we could find.
— Length: 2.7 inches
— Connection: Male lightning to female audio jack
— Compatibility: iPhone
— Braided nylon jacketing and rubber stress relief cuffs
— Aluminum housing
— More expensive than other options
With its durable construction, this adapter from Jsaux is one of the best options for attaching a set of wired earbuds to an iPhone. It consists of a male lightning end and a female 3.5-mm audio jack end connected by a short wire. While there are more affordable options than the Jsaux adapter on the market, those cheaper models don’t match the durability of the Jsaux’s construction.
Whereas other adapters use vinyl jacketing and plastic plug ends, the Jsaux has an aluminum housing on its plugs and tougher braided jacketing on the cord that better resists blistering and tears. It also boasts beefy rubber strain relief cuffs at both ends that prevent the cord from pulling away from the plugs. This construction makes it ideal not just for listening to tunes while sitting at a desk but also makes it a great choice for more rigorous use, such as working out or commuting.
Thanks to its Apple MFi certification, this adapter fits tightly with iPhones, iPods, and iPads, which create reliable high-quality audio. The Jsaux is also one of the flashier adapters, thanks to its seven vibrant color options.
Best for Stereo Headphones: MOBOREST 3.5 mm Pure Copper Adapter
Why It Made The Cut: This pair of adapters makes it possible, when used in concert with a lightning adapter, to connect stereo headphones to an iPhone or iPad.
— Length: 1 inch
— Connection: 3.5-mm male to 6.35-mm female
— Compatibility: iPhone
— All-copper construction creates a strong connection
— Multiple color options
— Creates tight connection
— Must be used with another adapter to connect to an iPhone
Attaching a set of stereo headphones to an iPhone requires more than one adapter. You’ll need two and this adapter from Moborest is one of the best options to make that bridge. It consists of a 6.35-mm female end and a standard 3.5-mm headphone jack.
With solid brass copper connections, this adapter from Moborest boasts excellent audio quality with no static or dropouts. That said, it’s a bit of work to set up. You first need to connect your iPhone to the lightning end of a separate headphone jack adapter, then connect the Moborest to the adapter’s female audio jack before finally plugging the 6.35-mm headphones into the Moborest.
It’s a bit of work and creates a somewhat longer adapter connection for an iPhone, but it should be easy for audiophiles who prefer the sound quality that headphones with a larger 6.35-mm jack offer. The adapter comes in three color options, including blue, red, and black, so you can coordinate the Moborest with your high-fidelity headphones.
Best With Charger: Belkin 3.5 mm Audio + Charger Splitter
Why It Made The Cut: Belkin’s adapter eliminates the need to choose between charging and listening to music by offering both functions simultaneously.
— Length: 5.7 inches
— Connection: Female lightning and 3.5-mm jack ports to male lightning
— Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod
— Allows you to charge and listen to music simultaneously
— Excellent audio quality
— Bulky size
Even with a lightning to headphone jack adapter, there’s still the issue of charging, which you can’t do simultaneously while using earbuds to listen to music unless, of course, you’ve got one of these. This adapter from Belkin, one of the giants in consumer electronics, consists of one end that includes a 3.5-mm headphone jack and a female lightning socket that connects to a male lightning plug end via an inch-long cord.
These three ports give you the ability to both charge (or sync) and listen to music at the same time. And, since this adapter has Apple’s MFi certification, you can be sure it will create a tight fit for optimal audio quality.
Just keep in mind that, at nearly 6 inches long and measuring 1½ inches wide at the plug end, this multifunctional adapter is a bit bulky. Its large size means you’ll likely need to purchase a second smaller adapter if you plan to use wired headphones with your iPhone while exercising or commuting. This cord is clearly designed for use on a nightstand or desktop. You also need to be willing to pay a premium for the dual functionality the Belkin adapter offers—it costs two or three times a standard headphone iPhone adapter.
Best Design: Mangotek Lightning to 3.5 mm Female Jack iPhone Adapter
Why It Made The Cut: Since it’s an official Apple product, it creates a secure connection with iOS devices that results in superior audio quality and no connection issues, even during vigorous exercise, and it’s inexpensive.
— Length: 1.3 inches
— Connection: Male lightning to female 3.5-mm audio jack
— Compatibility: iPhone
— Low-profile design
— No delicate cords
— Noise-reduction technology
— Rigid shape can cause the plug to move in the socket
Those looking for a low-profile adapter for their iPhone should consider this thoughtfully designed model from Mangotek. Rather than use a lightning adapter attached by a small wire to a female 3.5-mm headphone jack input, the Mangotek uses a rigid adapter that forms a right angle between the two connections.
The adapter addresses the weak points of cords — the joint between the plug and the cord and delicate wires that can pull or fray. The right-angle shape of the adapter also preserves the headphone cord by directing it around the phone, so it can travel from iPhone to ears without having to make any hard angles. This means you can slip your iPhone inside a pocket or backpack and listen to music without having to worry about stressing that vulnerable connection between the headphone cord and the plug.
This Mangotek is MFi-certified and works with iPads and iPods as well as iPhones. And, with integrated noise-reduction technology, it produces excellent sound quality. With five color options ranging from black to yellow, you can coordinate the Mangotek with your iPhone’s case.
Best Budget: Apple Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter
Why It Made The Cut: Since it’s an official Apple product, it creates a secure connection with mobile iOS, ensuring superior audio quality and no connection issues even during vigorous exercise, and it’s cheap.
— Length: 2.7 inches
— Connection: Lightning
— Compatibility: iPhone, iPod, iPad
— Excellent sound quality
— Tight connection
— Affordably priced
— Thin cord is susceptible to damage
When Apple became the first major manufacturer to ditch the standard headphone jack from their smartphones, it angered many iPhone devotees by eliminating their ability to use a standard set of headphones or earbuds. This little adapter changed that, (somewhat) appeasing those scorned users.
The Apple Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter consists of a male lightning end and a female headphone jack end joined by about an inch of cord. It’s simple to use, taking just seconds to make the bridge between headphones or earbuds and the iPhone’s lightning port. Although the cord connecting the two ends is a bit thin, bringing into question just how much abuse it can take, it’s more flexible than adapters consisting of one rigid piece, which makes a difference if you’re carrying your phone in your pocket.
Since it’s an Apple product, it fits perfectly into the power socket of your iPod, iPad, or iPhone with no wiggle room that can negatively impact sound quality or create static when you’re engaging in more vigorous activity, such as working out or walking to work. For those concerned about looks, this adapter’s design mimics the look and feel of other Apple cords—it’s barely noticeable when used with a set of Apple earbuds. Plus, it’s surprisingly affordable for an Apple product.
Things to Consider Before Buying an iPhone Adapter for Headphones
Construction: An iPhone adapter can experience a fair amount of abuse, especially if you’re wearing headphones while commuting to work via public transportation, running through the park, or mowing the lawn. It should be able to survive accidental yanks when the cord gets caught on some obstacle as well as being stuffed in the bottom of a backpack when it’s not in use. Adapters with thick vinyl jacketing and cuffs that reinforce the joints between the cord and plug are good. Adapters with braided jacketing and thick rubber joints that flex are better.
Sound Quality: Any adapter that’s compatible with an iPhone will allow you to listen to music through your headphones using the iPhone’s power port but not all offer the same sound quality. An adapter that shifts inside the phone’s lightning port can cause crackling and static as you move, especially if you’re running on a treadmill or doing chores around the house. Choose Apple-compatible adapters that fit tightly into the port. They should consist of solid copper, which has better conductivity and corrosion resistance than other metals.
Compatibility: There are numerous iPhone headphone adapters on the market but not all will work well with the iPhone. Luckily, there’s an easy way to figure out which are contenders and which are pretenders. Look for adapters that have Apple’s MFi certification. This means Apple has tested and approved these adapters for use with its iPhone.
Q: Do headphone adapters affect sound quality?
While headphone adapters may not be able to boost sound quality, they can certainly detract from it. A headphone adapter that doesn’t fit snugly inside the iPhone lightning port can result in reduced sound quality or even cause one side of the headphones to stop working. A poor fit or poor construction can also cause crackling or static while walking or running.
Q: Do you get a headphone adapter with an iPhone?
Sadly, Apple did not start including adapters with the iPhone once it stopped including a standard headphone jack in the device. That said, the company does sell its own headphone adapter at a very affordable price.
Q: What is the best headphone adapter for the iPhone?
With durable construction that can endure a fair share of abuse, the Jsaux Lightning to 3.5 mm Adapter is one of the best all-around adapters for the iPhone.
When shopping for an adapter, it’s important to consider how you plan on using it before making a purchase. If you simply need an adapter to listen to music as you work at your desk, go with an affordable option, such as the Apple Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter. If you plan on using your iPhone as a fitness companion on runs and trips to the gym, or if it will see use on a daily commute, consider spending a little more for the durable Jsaux Lightning to 3.5 mm Adapter.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.