Five ways to get a headphone jack for your iPhone 7
If you’ve got an iPhone 7, you’ll already know about the biggest controversy surrounding its release: the removal of the trusty 3.5mm headphone jack. And while wireless headphones offer a fantastic high-tech alternative, they’re not for everybody.
In a sense, we can understand why Apple are so keen to push us towards a wireless future. By most standards, wireless headphones are simply better and more convenient – and if you’re in the market for a pair, we’ve got a great guide to the best headphones for iPhone 7.
But for the rest of us, the decision to remove the venerable headphone jack from last year’s iPhone 7 was extremely controversial. At a stroke, Apple rendered traditional wired models near-obsolete – and the result was online outrage.
Now, as iPhone 7 owners know, a bundled adapter does let you plug your 3.5mm headphone jack into the Lightning port. But this also prevents you from charging or docking your phone, making it a less-than-perfect solution – so what’s a music-love to do?
The answer lies with accessories.
Eager manufacturers have wasted no time in filling the gap in the market left by Apple’s decision – and so, if you’re looking for a way to plug your beloved headphones into your shiny new iPhone, read on for our pick of the best.
iPhone Lightning Dock
In actual fact, you don’t need a specifically third-party solution to enjoy simultaneous charging and listening: Apple’s own iPhone Lightning Dock offers one potential answer.
As with most docks, this device connects to your mains power and holds your iPhone upright while it charges. As such, it’s perfect for your kitchen, bedroom or anywhere else you spend a lot of time.
But while many third-party docks feature their own built-in speakers, Apple’s version comes with – you guessed it – a 3.5mm headphone jack built in.
This means you can easily hook it up to your desktop speakers or home stereo system, which was probably Apple’s main intention when designing this device. But it also means you can simply plug any old pair of wired headphones into the back.
Now, the drawbacks here are pretty obvious. While you certainly can use the dock this way, it’s hardly a portable solution. Quite aside from its bulk (and the fact that it doesn’t lock or hold your phone in place while in use), the iPhone Lightning Dock needs to be plugged into the mains in order to work.
For most users, then, the answer probably lies elsewhere. But if you’re in the market for a dock anyway, and you do listen to a lot of music at home, this extra feature is a really welcome addition to an already solid product.
From around £39 after conversion
If you’re looking for something a little more portable than Apple’s offering, the forthcoming iStand 7 case/stand combo by Yostand might be what you’re looking for.
iPhone cases are, of course, a dime a dozen – but even aside from its fold-out stand, this one does some really interesting stuff.
First and foremost, yes: it includes a 3.5mm headphone jack. This is located on the bottom-left of the case, in precisely the place it was found on the iPhone 6S – so there’s some reassuring familiarity there for long-term iPhone fans.
But that’s not the end of it: the case also incorporates a 3000mAh battery cell, more than doubling the iPhone 7’s base capacity. And if you opt for the ‘Pro’ version, it also adds Qi-compatible wireless charging, and even bundles a wireless charging station so it’s ready to use out the box.
Best of all, the whole device is certified by Apple as part of their ‘Made for iPhone’ scheme, so you shouldn’t have any problems with compatibility. All told, it’s one of the most interesting iPhone case we’ve seen – and a great way to get your beloved 3.5mm jack back.
That said, there are a couple of things to be aware of. First of all, the device isn’t currently in mass production – and the only way to get your hands on one is by backing the manufacturer’s Indiegogo campaign. According to that, the first devices are expected to ship in April of 2017.
But we’d always recommend caution when dealing with crowdfunding campaigns. A number of the devices have already been sent out to the tech press, so we’re reasonably confident it’ll see the light of day – but you might want to stay on the safe side and wait for the official release before putting up your cash.
Finally, it’s a bit on the bulky side. That won’t be an issue for some users – but if it matters to you, read on for some alternatives!
Around £10 after conversion
This next solution is even more portable than the iStand, making it a great choice for users who don’t want to confine their iPhone 7 to a bulky case – or who already have a case they like.
This tiny dongle simply features a Lightning connector on one end, for plugging into your phone, and both a 3.5mm jack and a Lightning port on the other. There’s no software or anything else to install in order to get it up and running – just plug and play.
It’s certainly a good idea – and at around £10 after conversion, it seems like a bit of a bargain. But in spite of its appeal, we’d advise a little caution before jumping in with this one.
For starters, while we haven’t actually got our hands on one to try it out for sure, it doesn’t look particularly sturdy when plugged into your phone. We’d be concerned about damaging the device or even your iPhone’s lightning port if it took a sudden knock in use.
Moreover, and unlike the iStand, it’s not currently certified by Apple’s Made for iPhone program – so there’s no official guarantee it’ll work well with your device.
Finally, the manufacturer’s website suggests there have been some delays in shipping relating to the recent Chinese New Year holiday – so it may take a while before you get your hands on the device.
That said, its combination of low price and ultimate portability means it could be worth a punt – and if you do give it a go, why not leave us a comment and let us know how you get on with it?
This next device is just as portable as the ILDOCK – but it comes at the problem from a very different angle.
Rather than acting as a physical bridge between your wired headphones and iPhone 7, this is actually a tiny Bluetooth dongle. All you have to do is plug your headphones into it, and voila – they’ve become a set of wireless headphones!
This is a really elegant solution to the problem, giving you many of the benefits of wireless headphones without actually shelling out for a pair.
In particular, it means you can pop your phone in your bag or pocket and keep listening without worrying about your headphone cable getting all tangled up. And because Bluetooth is such a commonly used technology, it won’t just work with your iPhone 7 – you’ll be able to listen to your Bluetooth-enabled stereo, laptop or even Android device in exactly the same way.
But specifically for iPhone users, the iTrip also allows you to control the volume, pause and play and skip tracks using its onboard controls – something most of the ‘bridge’ type adapters don’t allow for.
The only potential drawback is the fact that it’s battery powered. The iTrip’s 800 mAh rechargeable battery should give you about six hours of play time, which, to be fair, is about what you’d expect from a decent pair of wireless headphones – but if one of your reasons for sticking with wired headphones is to avoid having yet another gadget to charge, it might matter to you.
But beyond that, this is a really versatile option, and one well worth looking into.
Gamevice for iPhone 7
For our final pick, here's something from the leftfield!
This last option does a little more than just add a headphone jack to your iPhone 7 – but if you use the devices awesome power to play video games, it might just be the perfect choice for you.
The Gamevice grips your phone like, well, a vice – and adds two analogue thumbsticks, a d-pad and a host of buttons. Oh, and in case we need to spell it out: it also comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack!
Now, it goes without saying that this is a rather niche device, and if all you’re looking for is a way to listen to your music and charge your phone at the same time, it’s complete overkill…
But if you’re a gamer, the Gamevice is a fantastic gadget – particularly if you’re into iOS ports of classic console games, where touchscreen-based controls are often notably inferior to their original gamepad-optimised control schemes. And with a proper 3.5mm headphone jack, you’ll be able to enjoy the awesome soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in all its hi-fi 1980s glory!
Any one of these devices should bring your trusty wired headphones back to life – why not let us know which method works best for you in the comments below? And for more great articles from our Agents straight to your inbox each month, get your name down below for the Geek Squad newsletter!