New iPhone: Using Lightning Headphones with... Anything Else?
November 6, 2017 7:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting an iPhone 8 this week, my first without the headphone jack, and since my current headphones died on me a couple days ago, I figured I'd just bite the bullet and get some lightning headphones at the same time. But! I need to use my headphones at work a lot (for actual work stuff), and there's no lighting port on my office computer.

Some details about my situation:

1) I find Apple's own headphones/earbuds enormously painful to use, on top of which the AirPods cost more than $200 here; I'm not spending that kind of money to be in pain all the time, and I'm already sick of having a million things to constantly keep charged.

2) Work won't pay for a pair of headphones, even though it's for job-related tasks. (Audio quality isn't really an issue, but comfort is; otherwise I'd just go to 7-11 and grab a pair of $4 earbuds off their shelf. Although I'd get better sound from those than from Apple's garbage earbuds anyway.)

3) I already have a pair of bluetooth headphones I got exclusively for the gym, but their battery life isn't acceptable for work use, and changing which device they're paired to is an enormous pain. On top of which they lose their charge waaaay too quickly if they sit unused for any length of time. I need something that will always be ready.

4) I would really prefer to not have to buy two pairs of headphones to make this happen, and I would also prefer to not have to use yet another dongle for everyday listening, since I'm already going to have to get a dongle for dual listening/charging anyway, as I find myself in a lot of situations where I'm doing both. Leaving a dongle at work for my work computer would be fine, but I can't find any evidence that a lighting-to-3.5mm jack exists (not that I thought it would).

I can't be the only person to run into this problem, but Google is presenting me with a whole lot of people not finding solutions to it, and a whole lot of other people telling the first group to stop whining about problems that only exist in their heads, Apple knows best in all things.

Do I have any options here?
posted by Fish Sauce to Technology (6 answers total)
It sounds like you may not be aware of it, but all iPhones come with Lightning headphones now, and a Lightning -to-3.5mm adapter, so you won't have to shell out extra to get those. With the adapter you can use any standard headphones you like with the iPhone and then just use them normally while at work.

Edit: By the way, those adapters totally exist even outside of the ones Apple make.
posted by sixfootaxolotl at 7:45 AM on November 6, 2017

You’re essentially asking for an impossible solution. There are two types of ports in play: Lightning and 3.5mm. So to enumerate the possible cases:

Lightning direct to both devices: doesn’t work
3.5mm direct to both devices: doesn’t work
Lightning phones with lightning to 3.5 adaptor: doesn’t exist
3.5 phones with 3.5 to lightning adaptor: you don’t want it
Bluetooth: you don’t want it
2 phones: you don’t want it

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet. I solved the problem with Bose Bluetooth headphones. The in ear QC30s have about a 10 hour battery life, the over ear QC35s (I might have reversed the model numbers) have a 20 hour battery life. They’re ungodly expensive, but the battery life is good and they’re really comfortable, and they solved the problem. Good luck.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 7:55 AM on November 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

It seems I misunderstood the adapter. You were hoping for an adapter with a male 3.5mm jack and female Lightning, I believe those do not currently exist.
posted by sixfootaxolotl at 8:05 AM on November 6, 2017

The obvious thing to do would be to get some headphones with a detachable/replaceable cable, and have one 3.5mm cable (which you keep plugged into your work computer) and one lightning cable, which you use with your phone. But I think you're only likely to find this with over- or on-ear headphones, not earbuds, if that is what you were hoping for. The good part is that this is a feature on many bluetooth headphones, so if you wanted to you could get some that you use wirelessly while they have charge, and then plug the wire in when the battery runs out.
posted by Acheman at 8:14 AM on November 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

@Special Agent Dale Cooper: Thanks, that was pretty much what I was expecting. This is probably the only version of the "future is here" problem that I've struggled with; the standard headphone jack was an ideal solution for my needs, and removing it from my device of choice will create a ton of problems--all very small problems, of course, but enough small problems all caused by the same thing is effectively the same as a big problem. A couple years ago I would have just spent big dollars on having a good pair of dedicated headphones for my work machine, but I don't make that kind of money anymore and the iPhone plus one really good pair of headphones is going to be it for my budget. I do utterly loathe the idea of having a dongle in my pocket creating another point of failure while I'm on the go, and (according to Google) not allowing me to do things like answer calls or skip songs with non-Apple headphones. (re: bluetooth, it bugs me that I now have to have a bunch of battery-powered things around that can't be recycled where I live because of those batteries and that require more "managing" to use effectively, something especially annoying for a device that's literally just a couple of copper wires attached to a little speaker. I feel like their prevalence has probably got a lot to do w/ the rise of laptops and phones as people's primary devices; mine is a desktop, so portability of non-headphone peripherals or the clumsiness of hubs on the go is a tertiary concern at best.)

@sixfootaxolotl: Yeah, sorry that was an error on my part. I always get direction confused when writing out the details of X-to-Y adapters. I know that the iPhones all come with lighting headphones now, but I find all models of Apple headphones painful to wear, and I've never been pleased with their sound quality.

@Acheman: Thanks. I would prefer earbuds, but I'll look into that. I didn't even know headphones with detachable/replaceable cables existed.
posted by Fish Sauce at 8:31 AM on November 6, 2017

For headphones with detachable cables, LSTN is one option (earbuds here.) I've purchased wired earbuds, wired headphones and recently Bluetooth headphones from them. They sound better than Apple's earbuds and Beats, to me.
posted by emelenjr at 10:14 AM on November 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

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