How to Connect the Right Headphone for Your iPhone Model

  • Which headphone works best for your iPhone? …Your iPhone model is what determines which headphones you can use. See table below. Next choice is wired or wireless. Apple Airpods offer the most seamless setup.
  • Can you use any wireless headphones with iPhone?…. Yes. Most wireless headphones will pair with your iPhone through Bluetooth technology.
  • Can you use any wired headphones with iPhone? ….Only on iPhone models that support a headphone jack such as the iPhone 6 or earlier. Later iPhones use Apple’s proprietary lightning connector which is only compatible with Apple or Apple approved headphones like Beats or Powerbeats
  • Does the iPhone 8 have a headphone jack. No. See table below.
  • Does iPhone 7 have a headphone jack. No. See table below.

How do I Connect Headphones to my iPhone?

To listen to music, sound or talk through your iPhone these are your headphone connection options:

  1. Headphone jack (wired)
  2. Lightning connector (wired)
  3. Wireless

I use two iPhones: an SE (1st gen 2016) and an iPhone 8. While packing for a train ride I thought it would be cool to listen to podcasts on my phone to pass the time, so I grabbed my earbuds and threw them in my bag.

Unfortunately it’s been so long since I used earbuds I forgot the iPhone 8 no longer has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The set of earbuds I grabbed had the 3.5mm plug. I prefer the older earbuds because they fit in my small ears better than the new “ergonomically designed” ones do.

So the podcasts I’d loaded in Overcast on my newer phone weren’t of any use to me after all. Instead I had to switch and listen on my iPhone SE which still has the headphone jack. Not a big deal, but I upgraded to the 8 because my SE was out of memory, and it’s not loaded with much to listen to anymore.

When I bought the iPhone 8, it was packaged with a set of the new earbuds that have the lightning connector instead of the old jack. It’s nice that you can control volume with it but I’ve never used it for taking calls.

I’ve been reading that newer iPhones don’t come pre-packaged with headphones anymore, so you have to buy your own! But what’s the best headset to buy? 

Beats EP On-Ear Fixed Cable Headphones

Wired or Wireless?

Wired headphones such as the Earpods with lightning connector or 3.5mm plug work on older iPhone models. See table

Wireless headsets such as Apple Airpods or PowerBeats work with any model  iPhone 7 or later. 

Two wireless charging options: Charge the case with the lightning to USB cable you plug directly into a USB charging plug or device like your laptop OR charge wirelessly with a Qi-certified charger.

How Your iPhone Connects to Headphones

iPhone ModelHeadphone JackLightning ConnectorWireless
5, 5c 5s YES YES NO
6, 6 Plus, 6s YES YES NO
7, 7 Plus NO YES YES
8, 8 Plus, X NO YES YES

To find out which model iPhone you have, Go to Settings >General>About>Model Name

iPhone 6 or older models

If you have an iPhone 6 or older then your phone still has a headphone jack and you can use any brand of headphones or earbuds with a 3.5 mm jack or port. 

Apple Earbuds with 3.5mm jack connection

In addition, iPhones made since 2012 – the iPhone 5 and later – will have a lightning connector also. If your phone was an iPhone 5, 6 or SE you can use either the headphone jack or the lightning connector to power your headphones.

iPhone 7 or later models

If you have an iPhone 7 or later phone, you’ll use the lightning connector to power a set of wired earbuds, headphones OR use wireless headphone options like Airpods or Powerbeats.

URBeats3 Earphones w/Lightning Connector

Which headphone is best for iPhone? 

Here’s some headphone options depending on your budget and what your iPhone model supports.

Wired LightningWireless
Apple Earpods w/3.5mm plug $29.Apple Earpods w/lightning connector $29.Apple Airpods w/charging case $159.
Beats by Dr. Dre urBeats w/3.5mm
plug $60.
urBeats3 Earphones w/lightning connector $60.Beats Solo3 Beats Icon Collection $200.
Beats EP On-Ear Fixed Cable $130.Airpods Pro $249.

My suggestion is first look at what type of headphone your iPhone supports and then decide how you want to use them.

  • If you’re wearing headphones while working out or walking, a wireless pair will be less likely to get in the way.
  • If you’re likely to use headphones while on a plane or commuting, then noise cancelling could be a must have feature.
  • If you want no fuss pairing and seamless setup, then any of these Apple or Apple approved Beats headsets will make listening easy.
  • If you’re only going to be listening to audiobooks or podcasts, you’ll probably be happy with a less expensive set of headphones. On the other hand think about spending a little more if music is your jam.

You’ll find these headphones for sale on

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