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Since the days of the iPhone 7 when Apple dropped the 3.5 mm port from its smartphones, if users wanted to listen to audio on their phones they’ve needed to either use the 3.5 mm dongle (which is no longer included with new iPhones), wireless headphones, or headphones with a Lightning connector. While many people now opt for Bluetooth headphones, like Apple’s own AirPods, others still prefer wired headphones that don’t require battery charging and don’t have their sound quality restricted by the limitations of wireless audio. While the 3.5 mm dongle is small, it can easily be lost, so if you’re using wired headphones for an iPhone, using ones with a Lightning connection is still your best bet.
However, Lightning’s days are likely numbered, as Apple is slowly but surely transitioning its products to USB-C. Ironically, you may need a dongle for your Lightning headphones at some point. For now, though, headphones with Apple’s proprietary connector are still easy to find. To help you decide which product is best for you, here are the best wired headphones with Lightning support for your iPhone or iPad.
Moshi Avanti LT
Over-the-ear Lightning headphones are less common than in-ear ones, which is unfortunate for iOS users who prefer their look or feel over earbuds. Maybe you want to drown everything else out and focus on what you’re listening to, maybe you don’t like the way buds fit inside your ears, or maybe it’s a fashion statement — whatever the case, your options are limited. Luckily, one over-the-ear product not only supports Lightning but is one of the best pairs of headphones you can buy that use the connector, period: the Moshi Avanti LT.
Moshi’s Avanti headphones look great either wrapped around your neck or resting over your ears, and have an extremely stylish angled earcup design that comes in three colors: black, burgundy, or caramel. The earcups also fold easily into a provided case that makes the headphones easily portable. They provide high-quality audio with a frequency range between 15 Hz and 22,000 Hz, able to bring out both the bass and treble of your favorite tracks. These may be one of the best Lightning headphones you can ask for, but they’re also quite expensive, retailing at $260. The Avanti LT also has a 3.5 mm connection, so you can use them for other devices besides your iPhone, but the USB-C model is unfortunately sold separately, so be careful not to purchase that version by mistake.
Pioneer Rayz Plus
The Rayz Plus in-ear Lightning headphones by Pioneer have a few features that make it stand out from competitors, including a Lightning port that can be used with a charging cable. This allows you to still charge your iPhone while using its Lightning port. They also have noise-canceling capability, which is increasingly becoming a must-have for many headphones users. Granted, it’s not the best noise-canceling, but for in-ear headphones it mostly gets the job done. Likewise, the sound quality of the Rayz Plus isn’t remarkable, but is also decent enough, and produces a satisfying bass.
The Pioneer Rayz Plus is also quite stylish, and currently comes in black, gray, and rose gold. The in-line remote has four buttons laid out in a flat, easy-to-use design. You can purchase a pair for $60 on Amazon, which is a little high when there are in-ear headphones with superior noise-canceling and sound quality. However, the extra Lightning port for charging and the chic look of the Rayz Plus might justify the cost for you.
You’ll have more options if you’re looking for in-ear Lightning headphones rather than over-the-ear models, and the Belkin SoundForm (formerly called the Rockstar) is a solid choice. Like most earbuds, this product doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles, featuring very basic in-line controls and a small microphone. What you do get, however, is good quality, including when it comes to sound, which provides a complex range of frequencies that should suit your needs. The earbuds also have a sturdy design that won’t easily fall apart in your pocket and a flat cable that is resistant to getting tangled.
That’s useful because, unfortunately, they don’t come with a carrying case. They do come with three pairs of silicon tips in various sizes to help fit your ears, though you may still find them uncomfortable even with the tips. The Belkin Soundform headphones come in black or white; the latter somewhat resembles Apple’s own wired EarPods. They retail for $40, which is a decent price for high-quality Lightning headphones, but you can currently find them for under $18 on Amazon.
Nuraphone isn’t an in-ear or over-the-ear product: it’s both. This unique design, which places a speaker in each ear and then surrounds each with a cup, helps to produce the Nuraphone’s biggest selling point: its personalized sound. When setting up the headphones for the first time, they will play a range of sounds for you to map how your ears specifically receive different frequencies. After that, you’ll have a custom EQ profile, with all audio playing from the Nuraphone optimized for you, specifically. In theory, this will create the best possible sound quality your own ears could possibly ask for.
The Nuraphone also has extremely good bass thanks to the over-the-ear cups, as well as customizable touch controls and active noise cancellation. The product is also versatile because it uses a proprietary connector that can easily be used with a 3.5 mm or USB-C cord, as well as a Lightning cable. The downside to such a unique pair of headphones is the very high price; it costs $400, though you can currently find them for half that on Amazon.
For such a high cost, the headphones aren’t very stylish and only come in black. Its bulky, unique design can also be uncomfortable to wear since the model has the disadvantages of both heavy, over-the-ear headphones and intrusive in-ear buds. But if the versatility of the Nuraphone’s connectivity and a highly-customized sound profile is important to you, you’ll want to go with the Nuraphone. Just remember to also buy a Lightning cable, since it’s not included.
To help Apple users transition away from 3.5 mm, iPhones used to come with Lightning-connected EarPods, which weren’t much different from the previous 3.5 mm model. While they’re no longer included, you can still purchase a pair of Apple EarPods for a wired Lightning connection to your iPhone. Even though they’re the default model with a pretty simple design, they still have the high quality most Apple products do and produce good sound for in-ear headphones. Unlike other Apple products, they’re also surprisingly cheap; you can pick up a pair for less than $18 on Amazon.
Apple EarPods haven’t changed much over the years, besides the Lightning connector. They still have the same one-size-fits-all approach, and unlike most in-ear headphones, don’t include silicone tips. They’ve been redesigned slightly to fit better, but many users still find them to be too loose or uncomfortable. But if you’re looking to save money and still have good-sounding Lightning headphones for your iPhone, the Apple EarPods will get the job done.