The best headphones for iPhone users

Listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks on your iPhone makes perfect sense — your phone is basically the modern-day iPod. But to get the most out of your listening experience, you really need a good set of headphones or earphones. The ones that come bundled with your iPhone just don’t sound as good as a dedicated set — and they leak sound like crazy.

If you’re serious about your sounds — and you should be — you need to shop around for something better. But not just any old headphones will do. You need a pair that both suit the capabilities of your iPhone and your lifestyle. It’s important to know what you’re looking for, so we’ve gone ahead and done a lot of the research for you.

Do you need wireless headphones for my iPhone?

To put it simply, yes. If you have an iPhone, it’s probably time to go wireless. You have to go back several generations to find an iPhone that has a regular 3.5mm audio jack input — Apple has insisted on equipping its phones with a Lightning port for several years now.

Apple headphones also use Lightning connections — so they can plug straight into your phone. If you have a pair of wired non-Apple headphones, Apple also sells an adaptor which connects a regular audio jack to Lightning connection, but these adaptors are unreliable and break easily.

The best option is to connect your iPhone to the headphones or earphones wirelessly. It’s much easier and means you don’t have to deal with too many cables.

What is true wireless?

True wireless — or “truly” wireless as it’s sometimes called — refers to headphones that have no cord connected to your phone or device. True wireless headphones can use different types of wireless technology to transmit the sound into your ears. The most common form is Bluetooth.

Wireless sound quality can be affected by factors such as distance and obstructions between your headphones and device, but also the codec software that your headphones support. Codecs are algorithms that encode and decode digital audio signals. Look out for headphones with low latency that support Qaulcomm’s aptX codecs, which are usually rated as the best codecs — particularly for streaming video content on your phone and ensuring the picture and audio stay in sync.

Are AirPods the best headphones for the iPhone?

Yes and no. AirPods are great — especially AirPods Pro and AirPods Pro Max (as you’ll see below) — but they’re also expensive compared to competitors.

They’re definitely a good one stop solution as they’re so convenient to set up with your iPhone and they fit the Apple aesthetic perfectly. However, if you’re keen to search around and spend a little longer setting things up, there are better options out there.

Should you buy the cheapest pair of headphones?

You can just spend a few pounds on the cheapest pair of headphones out there but this is no better than using the pair you’ve already got with your iPhone. If you regularly listen to music, it’s worth investing a little more in a pair as you’ll be surprised how much better the sound quality is. You can also benefit from extra features like noise cancellation.

What is noise cancellation?

Noise cancellation blocks out ambient noise, allowing you to fully immerse into your music, and is usually a mark of the best, most advanced headphones.

There are two kinds of noise cancellation — passive and active noise cancellation. Passive noise cancellation is achieved by the design and build of the headphones, which will physically block out noise by having oversized ear cups that create a seal. Active noise cancellation (usually shortened to ANC) uses a system of small microphones that pick up incoming sounds and create anti-noise sound waves to cancel them out.

Also look out for advanced ANC modes such as transparency mode. This allows in a certain level of ambient noise, such as other voices — handy for listening out for train platform announcements or having conversations.

What are the best headphones for your iPhone?

Have a think about the main reasons that you want new headphones. Are you going to be using them while you travel a lot? At home listening to music? While exercising? We’ve looked at a number of different scenarios and figured out the best headphones or earphones for you and your needs. In short, we’ve done the hard work for you.

There should be something for everyone and every budget in this list. We’ve lined up a selection of impressive options, including popular headphones from top brands like Sony, Bose, and yes, Apple.

These are the best headphones for your iPhone in 2021.

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