No headphone jack? No problem—or at least, not a problem that can’t be fixed with a solid adapter.
Apple caused a commotion after confirming that the iPhone 7 would only sport a Lightning port. This means that all your old headphones with a 3.5mm plug would have to be hooked up to your iPhone 7 using an adapter.
But which adapter is right for you? Here are a few choices...and one that only solves part of the problem.
Apple’s Lightning to 3.5mm adapter
Apple saved itself much of the outrage for getting rid of the headphone jack by including a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter free with every iPhone 7. This adapter is so lightweight, you’ll hardly notice it hanging out at the end of of your headphone cord. It’s also thin enough that it doesn’t get stuck in your pocket. Best of all, you can replace this adapter for only $9, which is very affordable by Apple standards. By comparison, the 30-pin to Lightning adapter is $29, and it had to be purchased separately.
But there are two problems with Apple’s in-box solution. First, it doesn’t have mic and audio control support for third-party headphones, so you can’t use the in-line mic and controls to talk to Siri, take a call, or skip a song. The second issue is that the single input means you can’t charge your iPhone 7 and listen to music at the same time.
Apple’s iPhone Lightning Dock
Apple’s senior VP of marketing, Phil Schiller, has personally shared a solution to the listen-or-charge dilemma: Getting an iPhone Lightning Dock. This Apple accessory lets you charge your iPhone 7 by mounting it on the dock, and then use the spare 3.5mm plug on the back of the dock to listen to your headphones.
Fuze battery case
Thankfully, we are not forced to have to buy one of Apple’s solutions as several third-party accessory-makers have begun selling innovative gadgets to solve this very problem. Take for example the Fuze battery case. Not only does it promise to double the battery life of your iPhone 7, but it also has an integrated 3.5mm audio jack.
The folks at Fuze created a successful Indiegogo campaign to fund this solution, which is expected to ship in December. You can still pre-order your case for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus starting at $69, which is very reasonable as far as battery cases go, but we haven’t had a chance to test a Fuze prototype. By comparison, Apple’s Smart Battery Case for the iPhone 7 is $99—it doesn't have a headphone jack, but you can listen to wired headphones via the passthrough Lightning port while your phone charges.
Update: This Kickstarter campaign has been suspended.
Here’s another successful crowd-funding campaign that spawned from Apple’s removal of the headphone, the iLDock (iPhone Lighting Dock). Currently available on Kickstarter for $10, this adapter lets you charge your iPhone 7 and listen to 3.5mm headphones simultaneously.
In addition, the company has made a Plus version of the iLDock for $20 with a USB port, as well as SD and TF slots. Both the iLDock and the iLDock Plus are expected to ship in November.
F/Stop Labs’ Lightning to 3.5mm adapter
F/Stop Labs has created one of the sleekest adapters for charging your iPhone 7 and listening to music at the same time. The Lightning charging port is on the side, so it makes better use of the space. You can pre-order it now for $25 on Amazon, and it’s expected to be available on October 17.
This adapter does have built-in audio controls, but you won’t be able to use the microphone on your old pair of headphones, which is a very common incompatibility with all these adapters.
Griffin’s iTrip Clip
This adapter takes a different approach: Using Bluetooth to enable wired headphones with wireless capabilities. And unlike most traditional Lightning adapters, the iTrip Clip can also be used built-in mic so you can take calls or talk to Siri. It’s available now for $20 from Griffin Technology.
Plus, the iTrip Clip has another surprising functionality. Hook it up to your car’s stereo system using an AUX cable, and just like that you can use Bluetooth to play music from your phone.
Belkin’s Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar
Belkin was one of the first accessory makers to unveil an adapter for a iPhone 7, but it’s not really a solution for the lack of headphone jack. Just like its name, the Lightning Audio + Charge Rockstar adapter is needlessly clunky. It has dual Lightning ports so that you can charge your iPhone and listen to Lightning headphones at the same time.
But it’s missing a 3.5mm jack... so you will still need to have one of the other gadgets above to listen to your old headphones. At $40, this is an expensive solution considering it only addresses part of the problem. Belkin’s adapter was actually what prompted people to mock the iPhone 7 for needing dongles upon dongles. Remember this?