- Apple removed the headphone jack with the launch of the iPhone 7. And subsequently, iPhone and iPad models that followed were devoid of the then ubiquitous audio jack.
- As a consequence, you have to resort to using the Lightning port or Bluetooth for streaming audio on these devices.
- Except for the convenience bit, using Lightning port has its own advantages. And so, if you’re planning to get a Lightning-based headphone, we’ve got you covered below.
With the introduction of the iPhone 7, Apple said goodbye to the ubiquitous 3.5mm audio jack in favor of a Taptic Engine, louder speakers, and a more compact and water-resistant design. Subsequent iPhone models – and more recently, the newer iPad models – also eschewed the headphone jack to advance the company’s vision of a wireless future.
With this change, you now have two ways to listen to music on your iPhone or iPad: Lightning connector and Bluetooth headphone. Bluetooth (or wireless headphones) is clearly the winner of the two interfaces because it’s more convenient, but it’s not ideal if you want to listen to music in high definition. Besides, the wireless connection has some drawbacks that make a case for switching to Lightning.
However, since there aren’t many manufacturers of Lighting headphones, it cannot be easy to find them. With this guide, we’ll try to change that.
Best Lightning Headphones for iPhone and iPad
When talking about Lightning headphone options, the most obvious choice for most iPhone or iPad users is Apple’s very own Lightning EarPods. From a functional standpoint, these are undoubtedly a good option. But when it comes down to features and sound quality, there are various other Lightning earphones out there that trump the EarPods.
Here are our picks for the best Lightning headphones you can buy under different budgets.
1. Pioneer Rayz Plus
Pioneer is a popular name in the audio space known for its quirky and functional audio equipment. The Rayz Plus are one such product in its range. These are a pair of in-ear style wired earphones with some unique features on a wired offering, such as ANC (Active Noise Cancellation), auto-pause, hands-free Siri, and of course, lightning connection.
Besides these features, another functional characteristic of these headphones is the addition of a charging port that provides a pass-through to charge your device. So you can now listen to music/attend calls while simultaneously charging your iPhone or iPad.
Taking care of the audio enthusiasts, the company also offers a companion app with the Pioneer Rayz Plus, which lets you customize the sound, find the ideal fit, and personalize noise cancellation on them to suit your requirements.
- MFi certified
- 9.2mm Dynamic N50 Neodymium drivers
- Onboard DAC
- 1.2m cable length
- Programmable smart button
Color: Black, Gray, and Rose Gold
2. 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones
1MORE is an audio accessory brand known for its well-sounding products, and the triple driver in-ear headphones are one of its most widely lauded offerings among audiophiles. As their name suggests, the earphones are in-ear style and sport a triple-driver setup to drive the sound.
Essentially, this setup includes two balanced armature drivers, one titanium dynamic driver, and a high-definition DAC. Due to which the earphones can handle different sounds in the frequency range more effectively and provide high-quality sound with enhanced clarity.
In addition to this, the company also stresses equally on the earbuds’ design to ensure they sit nicely into the auditory meatus and provide a good fit, and of course, a good sound.
As for the functionality, the 1MORE Triple Driver headphones include a 5-in-1 (or five-directional) in-line controller, which you can use to activate voice control, adjust volume, change tracks, among other things.
- MFi certified
- Triple drivers
- Onboard hi-res DAC
- 5-way all-in-one controller
Color: Silver and Gold
3. JBL Reflect Aware Headphones with Lightning connector
JBL is a popular choice for speakers and headphones among the masses. It’s known to have good value-for-money offerings in most cases, and the JBL Reflect Aware is one such pair of wired headphones that fills the void for Lightning headphones without breaking your bank.
With these, you get an active-style design reminiscent of any earbud meant for use during training/workouts. As a result, you get wingtips, of course, to provide a snug fit and keep the earbuds inside the ear canal while exercising or running.
In terms of functionality, the JBL Reflect Aware bring support for the noise-cancellation feature, with the ability to filter out ambient noise as per your requirements. With 14.8mm drivers on the inside, this lightning earbud produces a slightly balanced sound signature that makes them an appealing choice for those who like sound leaning towards the neutral signature.
- 14.8mm drivers
- Noise cancellation
- Adaptive noise control
- Wingtips for a better fit
Color: Blue, Black, Red, Teal
4. Libratone Lightning In-Ear Active Noise Cancelling Earbuds
Libratone is another audio brand that stresses good sound quality on its headphone range, and it was one of the early players to have built headphones with Apple’s Lightning connector. The end result, the Q Adapt In-Ear headphones.
Built out of light metal, these earphones feature an ergonomic design that looks elegant look and offers a comfortable fit. The angled in-ear ensures the earbuds stay inside the ea and provide isolation against the ambient noise. You can also adjust the level of noise cancellation using the in-line controls.
Speaking of, the same doubles up and can be used to adjust volume, pause/skip tracks, and activate Siri, as well. As for the sound, the earphones have a slightly bass-forward sound signature, which is the right amount of warmth you need without hampering clarity and other tones in the frequency range.
- MFi certified
- Comfortable fit
- Adjustable noise cancellation
- In-line controls
Color: Black and Elegant Nude
5. Belkin In-Ear Lightning Headphones
Belkin is another popular accessory maker that makes earphones for iPhones and iPads. One of many earphones in the collection are the In-ear Lightning port Headphones. With these, you get a tangle-free flat cable that prevents them from tangling while they are in your pocket or bag.
Aside from a durable cable, the earphones also have a water-resistant design, which allows you to use them during workouts. Belkin has designed the earbuds such that, in addition to offering a snug fit, they also isolate the noise to offer a more pleasant music and audiobook-listening experience.
Just like any other pair of earphones, the In-ear Lightning Headphones also feature a multi-control button that you can use to play/pause/skip tracks, change volume levels, and answer/reject calls conveniently on your iPhone.
- MFi certified
- Water-resistant design
- Noise isolation
- Tangle-free cable
Color: Black and White
6. Skullcandy Set In-Ear Earbud
Skullcandy has a reputation for making durable earphones and headphones that provide a well-rounded experience on a budget. And their Set in-ear earbud are one of their offerings that extend the same experience to iPhone users over the Lightning connector.
As you can probably guess by the name, these earbuds feature an in-ear design. They are comfortable to wear and offer adequate noise isolation for uninterrupted music or audiobook listening experience. In addition, the earphones are also IPX4 rated, which makes them ideal for workouts.
With regards to additional functionality, the Skullcandy Set in-ear earbuds are pretty basic. You get an in-line controller for call and track, which you can use to decline/answer calls and change tracks, respectively.
- IPX4 sweat-and-water-resistant design
- Noise isolating fit
- In-line controls
Color: Black/White, Light Grey/Blue
7. UGREEN Lightning Earbuds
UGREEN is another brand known for its budget-friendly earphones and headphones range. Its Lightning earbuds are a staple budget offering for iPhone and iPad with good fit and audio quality.
On the inside, the earbuds sport 10mm dynamic drivers and have a bass-heavy sound signature to cater to the masses. UGREEN has used the TPE material on the earphones to make them durable while also preventing them from getting tangled.
In terms of specifics, the 10mm dynamic drivers on the earphones, coupled with an ergonomic earbud design, provide a good listening experience at an affordable price range.
- 10mm dynamic driver
- 5-strand, 6-core wire
- In-line controls
- Noise isolation
Getting More Out of the Lightning Port
Listed above are some of the best pairs of headphones with a Lightning connector you can use with your iPhone or iPad to get more out of that Lightning port. Of course, there are a few other headphone options from other manufacturers as well like Beats or urBeats3 if you are looking for magnetic earbuds. But we feel these clearly outdo them on various grounds and should, therefore, suffice your requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions About Lightning Headphones
1. Can I just use a Lightning adapter instead of Lightning earphones?
You can buy a 3.5mm headphone jack adapter if you want to use the wired headphones you already own. In fact, Apple included a Lightning adapter with the initial release of the iPhone 7, 8, and X. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case with the current iPhones.
It’s still possible to buy Apple’s Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter for $9 at Apple Store, or third-party alternatives. If you want to further improve the sound quality, you can use a portable DAC (digital-to-analog converter) to get the best possible results.
2. Are Apple lightning headphones better quality than wired headphones?
Yes! The actual quality AUDIO of headphones/earbuds with Lightning connector is better than the ones you usually get with 3.5mm jacks. This is because conventional headphones with 3.5mm jacks transmit a standard analog signal. This means that the devices have to convert the digital files like MP3s to analog internally, which is done with a digital-to-analog converter. The Lightning connector, on the other hand, is 100% digital, which means that the audio signal is sent to the headphones in purely digital form. This is referred to as “lossless 48kHz digital output.” So expect better output from cheaper headphones.
3. How to use lightning headphones on a laptop?
You will need a lightning-to-USB-A adapter or a lightning-to-USB-C adapter depending upon what port you have on your laptop. First, connect your Lightning headphones to the adapter. Then, connect the adapter to the laptop’s USB port. Be careful not to neglect this step by connecting the adapter to the USB port first and then the headphones.