Listen closely: your whole life is packed inside your phone. And if listening to music — not to mention podcasts and audiobooks — is one of life’s true pleasures, you need a good set of headphones or earbuds to connect to your phone.
That’s especially true for iPhone users. As dedicated Apple fans will know, the Apple iOS is a uniquely designed system, built for syncing Apple products together. That means only certain headphones will do (though the best ones aren’t always Apple-produced, by the way). And the ones that come bundled with your iPhone just don’t sound as good as a dedicated set. They also leak sound like crazy.
If you’re serious about your sounds — and you should be — 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 the research for you.
Do you need wireless headphones for your 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. And if you have a pair of wired non-Apple headphones, Apple also sells an adaptor which connects a regular audio jack to the Lightning connection. But these adaptors are unreliable and break all-too easily. The best option is to connect your iPhone to the headphones. It’s much easier and means fewer 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 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. 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 (or spend a little less), there are other good options out there.
Should you buy the cheapest pair of headphones?
You can spend a few pounds on the cheapest pair of headphones, but you might as well just use the buds that come free with your iPhone. Going cheap is a false economy and you’ll sacrifice quality and function. If you regularly listen to music, it’s worth investing a little more. The sound quality is going to be much better.
What is noise cancellation?
Noise cancellation blocks out ambient noise, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in your music. It’s 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 physically block out noise by having oversized ear cups that create a seal. Active noise cancellation (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 a certain level of ambient noise to seep in, such as other people’s voices. It’s handy for listening out for train platform announcements or having conversations with pals and colleagues.
What are the best headphones for the iPhone?
Think about the main reasons that you need new headphones: Are you going to be using them while you travel? Will you be listening to music mainly at home? Or while exercising? We’ve looked at a number of different scenarios and figured out the best headphones or earbuds for you and your lifestyle. In other words, 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 from top brands.
These are the best headphones for your iPhone in 2023.