Apple has officially ditched the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack. The company justified this move by explaining that it allows them to make the iPhone 7 thinner than any earlier models. This will also encourage other audio makers to design their headphones with a lightning connector. If you have an iPhone 7, 8 (and plus models) iphone X (or newer ipads) you are left with two options for your headset: lightning earbuds or AirPods (or other Bluetooth headphones).
Our top pick for best lightning earbuds are these Triple Driver Earbuds by 1MORE because of their award winning sound quality and ergonomic design…but we’ve reviewed several other models in detail below for you to compare.
**Before you run out and buy a new pair of headphones, you can use a Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter like this one to connect your existing headphones to your new iphone 7. The iphone 8 and iphone X does come with a lightning adapter included in the box. Some people don’t like the clunky solution since it adds a extra bit of hardware hanging from the cable but others aren’t bothered by it.
When they first came out, Bluetooth headphones didn’t have great sound compared to wired headphones. With recent innovations in technology, Bluetooth sound and connectivity is getting better, but it is still not as solid as wired models. If you are still interested in Bluetooth options, check out this guide for best Bluetooth headphones, where you can find many great sets of Bluetooth headphones in an assortment of types and styles .
Lightning earbuds plug directly into the lightning port on the iPhone 7 and newer models. According to Apple, connecting headphones through the lightning port will improve sound quality, and lightning headphones can draw power from the phone for other features like active noise cancellation. Some companies have come out with new gadgets for the non-3.5 mm jack iphone 7. For those of you who are iPhone owners, we’ve rounded up the best Lightning connector earbuds available today.
Best Lightning Earbuds For iPhone
1MORE Triple Driver
1MORE Triple Driver have been our favorite earbuds so far. Recently 1More released a new version for the iPhone 7 with a lighting connector. The build quality is great considering the price, except the button feels a bit cheap and sometimes you can hear microphonics – the noise caused by the rubber cable bouncing or rubbing on your clothes.
Equipped with triple drivers on each earpiece, the 1MORE Triple Driver delivers clear, airy sound. The bass has a strong impact and boosts an extension. The sound is qualified for warm and balanced tones, but it is full and pleasant to listen to for long periods of time.
New Apple Beats earbuds, the UrBeats3 feature a “fine-tuned acoustic design” that sounds quite natural with considerable bass response. These earbuds have secure-fit wingtips for sports and the earbuds magnetically clip when not in use.
One single button control lets you activate Siri, take calls, and control playback. Compared to urBeats2, the urBeats3 have a different look with tilted, polished, stylish earbuds that you’d expect from Beats.
Libratone, a company best known for portable Bluetooth speakers, has now joined the lightning earbud race. These are impressively effective active noise cancelling earbuds with no battery so you never have to charge them. This set of earbuds draws power from your iPhone and only works with iOS devices.
The included eartips come in 3 different sizes so you can find the perfect fit for your ears.
The Libratone Q Adap earbuds sound good, but do not outperform the $150 sets we’ve tested. Plugging headphones in through the lightning port means the sound is transferred digitally, so you can easily customize the sound using an equalizer. Right out of the box, without adjusting anything on equalizer, the earbuds sound clear and balanced.
JBL Reflect Aware lightning earbuds are designed for active listeners who need a secure fit and sweat-proof protection. The earbuds have a sporty look with wingtips and a durable, tangle-free cable. Plus, they feature noise cancellation.
These are the first lightning active noise cancelling earbuds made to use with the iPhone 7. The active noise cancelling function is powered directly by the phone. This means there will be no more charging or inline battery compartment to hassle with, giving you all the benefits of active noise cancelling earbuds without a bulky design.
These earbuds sound great with enough powerful, solid bass to keep you going strong on a long run. The sound profile is balanced and they have an open soundstage, but the low end is fairly tight. With active noise cancellation turned on, the detail and clarity of sound is superior, but the treble could be a little more energetic.
Getting a tight seal in the ear canal improves the sound quality and increases noise isolation. Many sizes of eartips are included to make sure you get a perfect fit and maximum noise isolation.
The noise cancellation of the Reflect Aware earbuds isn’t top-notch like Bose QC 20, but they do the job. An optional “aware mode” can be enabled which allows you to adjust how much ambient sounds come in to keep you safe and aware of your surroundings while you exercise outdoors.
Brightech: Apple MFI Approved Pure Lightning Earbuds
Brightech Lightning earbuds are another great option, but they don’t have active noise cancellation. They are an affordable choice considering the features. With eartips, they provide a better seal than Apple lightning EarPods, so you get more bass and better sound isolation.
These are built with durable aluminum alloy housings and a rugged tangle-free cord. There is also an remote control with mic and controls which works with iPhones.
HOCO L1 Lightning Earphones
The Hoco L1 sounds great for the price with decent sound clarity and solid bass. It features a inline remote with 3 buttons that works similarly to the ones found on Apple EarPods. The lightning earbuds also offer good noise isolation and a secure fit when you wear them over the ear.
When switching from the original EarPods to lightning EarPods, unfortunately the sound doesn’t improve. The only thing that changes is the way the EarPods connect to the iPhone. Both sets offer a bright and clear sound that can occasionally be a little bit harsh and lacking in bass. Additionally, bloated bass and recessed treble are common problems for all Apple headsets. For the price, though, the build quality is decent and they are on par with other lightning earbuds in the same price range.
Here are the others that will pop up on the market soon
This set of earbuds launched on Indiegogo with two versions: Thunder, and the more affordable Thunder Fit for sports. The Thunder earbuds have smart active noise cancellation which controls the level of noise you want the earbuds to filter out. You can customize the amount of sound you prefer through the app settings.
This is one of the most affordable options for sound quality and active noise cancellation performance.
Be aware, your iPhone battery will drain faster than normal if you turn on noise cancellation. Also, lightning earbuds may not be as secure as those with a 3.5 mm headphone jack, so they are not the best choice for sports. They can have better sound quality depending on if the makers integrate their own digital-to-analog converters (DACs). Because the amplifiers are easily equalized via the digital lightning connection, you are able to manipulate the sound better than with 3.5 mm jack headphones