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Best headphones for iPhone owners 2024: What besides AirPods?


UPDATE: Mar. 1, 2024, 10:30 a.m. EST This story will soon be overhauled as we evaluate new headphones for iPhone users in 2024.

AirPods are great and all, but have you heard of literally anything else?

Listening to music, podcasts, or audio books on your iPhone makes perfect sense given its origins are steeped in the old days of the iPod. To get the most out of your audio experience however, you really need a good set of headphones or earbuds. The cheap earbuds that may have come bundled with your iPhone just don’t sound as good as a dedicated pair.

It’s important to know what you’re looking for when seeking out the best headphones for iPhone. Here’s what you need to know and the best headphones and earphones for every scenario in life.

Are AirPods the best option?

Yes and no. AirPods are great, especially the new AirPods Pro, but even when they’re discounted (you can usually find them for under $200 at Amazon), they’re expensive compared to competitors. They’re definitely a good one stop solution thanks to being 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 up, there are better options out there depending on what you need your headphones for.

What are the best headphones for iPhone?

Think of the main reason why 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 when you want to use headphones and figured out the best headphones or earphones for you and your needs. After extensive testing of the best headphones and earbuds, we’ve gathered our favorites for iPhone users below.


Best for everyday use: AirPods Pro (Gen 2)

Read our review of the AirPods Pro (Gen 2) wireless earbuds.

Who it’s for:

It should be no surprise that the best earbuds for iPhones come from Apple itself. If you have the budget and simply want a no-fuss, easy-to-connect option for your iPhone, then you really won’t do better than the latest AirPods Pro. The newest AirPods Pro can even share a USB-C charger with your new iPhone 15.

Why we picked this:

This selection is likely self-explanatory, but let us explain anyway. Apple’s premium wireless earbuds have a lot of excellent features for the price: Active noise cancellation, 30 hours of total battery life, and IP54 dust, sweat, and water resistance. You can also choose between USB-C charging or wireless charging. However, for iPhone users in particular, these earbuds are a no-brainer thanks to how well they play with iPhones and the entire iOS universe of products.

Bear in mind that while they’re the best earbuds for iPhones, they aren’t the best wireless earbuds overall. As Stan Schroeder wrote in his review, “Apple has improved the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) in many small ways. They sound great and the noise cancelation is stellar, but if you already have the original AirPods Pro, the new ones are not an essential upgrade.”

Battery life: 30 hours | Active noise cancellation: Yes


Best for iPhone newbies: AirPods (Gen 2)

Read our full review of the Apple AirPods (Gen 2).

Who it’s for:

Need a pair of solid, dependable wireless earbuds? These older-model AirPods won’t let you down. They have all the connectivity benefits of the AirPods Pro and with strong sound. However, if you can’t live without active noise cancellation, then these aren’t the buds for you. Still, it’s hard to argue with that price tag.

Why we picked this:

When these AirPods were first released in 2019, Mashable Tech Writer Raymond Wong wrote, “Hands-down, they are the best wireless earbuds to get if you use an Apple device.” We can’t say that in 2024. Even so, these earbuds still offer above average sound quality compared to similarly priced buds and impressive battery life. Best of all, you can usually find them on sale for under $100.

Battery life: 24 hours | Active noise cancellation: No


Best for work: Beats Solo Pro

Read our full review of the Beats Solo Pro headphones.

Who it’s for:

As part of the Apple extended family, Beats headphones have the same connectivity benefits as AirPods Max headphones, only without the $500+ price tag. If comfort is your top priority above all, we have found the fit of these headphones a bit snug, but the sound quality is excellent. As we noted in our original review, “Active noise cancellation is far better than you’d expect for on-ear headphones 22 hours of battery life.”

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Why we picked this:

At work, you want to be able to effortlessly switch on active noise cancellation when you’re in the zone and need to block out your co-workers, and then easily switch it off when you need to tune in. The Beats Solo Pro headphones do a great job with both modes, and the sound quality is just as high too. We’ve found them to be a bit of a snug fit, but when you need to be able to switch back and forth between music and your co-workers, there’s little better out there. 

Finally, if you prefer black headphones to the white cans available at Amazon, you can still find these headphones in black at Walmart.

Battery life: 22 hours | Active noise cancellation: Yes


Most comfortable headphones: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

Who it’s for:

Do you prize comfort above all? Then we can heartily recommend these cans, which combine active noise cancellation with a comfy fit that holds up well to all-day wear.

Why we picked this:

Many headphones and earphones can become uncomfortable after extended periods of time using them. The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 buck that trend by being immensely comfortable to wear, no matter how long you’re listening. While they’re not the newest of headphones out there, their sound quality is still great for the price and they offer active noise cancellation to further improve what you’re listening to. There’s an option for listening to them via wires, which may be a benefit when you’re not using your phone. Whatever the method, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 sound great while cushioning your ears. 

Battery life: 24 hours | Active noise cancellation: Yes





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