What’s the toughest iPhone headphones?
August 9, 2018 11:51 PM   Subscribe

I need the toughest most resilient lightning headphones there are.

My teenage daughter has been through three Apple iPhone headphones in the last six months. It’s not clear why they break - they seem to just stop working.

Rather than keep buying headphones that only last a couple of months I like recommendations for tough long lasting lighting headphones.

Bluetooth is also a possibility, but direct wired lightning options would be best.

Any ideas welcome.
posted by Gilgongo to Technology (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have yet to encounter any technology that won't break in the hands of a teenager who has not worked for the money required to pay for it and then bought it on their own.

Teenagers have many important priorites, and handling their possessions with care is very, very low down the list.

If you're the current headphones supplier, I recommend doing what I do: every time a set breaks, replace it with a cheaper set. Your teen will either crack the shits with the awful sound and start buying their own earbuds, or it will turn out that you've been overspending the whole time.
posted by flabdablet at 12:19 AM on August 10, 2018 [10 favorites]

I've gone the other way and buy five pound cheap things from Amazon. They seem to be good enough for the youtube videos and netflix that makes up the majority of listening. I buy them once as a replacement, show the kids how to take care of them (pulling them out by the plug, not the wire; correct ways to coil; remember now to leave them in pockets to go through the laundry; etc), and then if they break again it's up to them to replace unless it really wasn't their fault for some reason.

> I have yet to encounter any technology that won't break in the hands of a teenager who has not worked for the money required to pay for it and then bought it on their own.

Amen. And even when they have shelled out for it. YOU JUST PAID TO GET THIS SCREEN REPLACED AND YOU HAVE CRACKED IT ALREADY?????
posted by humuhumu at 1:25 AM on August 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

if they break again it's up to them to replace unless it really wasn't their fault for some reason

And no, it's not my fault if I crush your earbuds underfoot after you've left them on the floor under a discarded magazine in the middle of the hallway in the middle of the night.
posted by flabdablet at 1:46 AM on August 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

At the risk of threadsitting I’m regretting mentioning the teenager issue now. She does treat her possessions with care, is generally good with stuff, and I’m not convinced this is a carelessness issue.

The suggestion of buying multiple cheaper headphones would be a potential solution - if there were any lightning connector headphones for under £20!
posted by Gilgongo at 2:47 AM on August 10, 2018

Any reason why buying the little adapter and the cheapest headphones wouldn’t work? I abuse my setup and constantly switch my headphones from my work laptop or work iPhone 6 to the personal x and back and it is holding up just fine. I don’t look after it well either.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:41 AM on August 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

Have you tried Apple’s support? I had a pair that developed a buzz in one ear and they replaced them no problem at all.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 5:44 AM on August 10, 2018

You can also use some Sugru to strengthen the connections at all the weak points. That's what I do with my crappy, instantly-breaking Apple products. It triples their life expectancy in my experience. I shape the stuff nicely and patiently, and it doesn't look toooo goofy.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 5:45 AM on August 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

As another avenue, I have successfully gotten Apple to replace broken headphones for me under their warranty.

Personally I've found that uber-cheap headphones break so often they're still not worth the low price - I aim more for the second-but-still-inexpensive tier (such as skullcandy) and find they last much, much longer.

I now use a pair of BeatsX and I am hard on them (always in a pocket, sitting on them, etc etc) and after almost a year, so far so good. They're kinda pricey but they do go on sale a lot.
posted by mosst at 6:20 AM on August 10, 2018

Piggybacking on koahiatamadl's comment:
If you do go the adapter-with-standard-earbud route, I highly recommend Sony MDR EX110AP earbuds. They're affordable ($12–$20USD depending on seller,) they sound loads better than the stock Apple earbuds, they block external noise pretty well, and my latest pair survived 30 minutes in a washing machine with no change in performance.
And then my backup model if the Sonys are out of stock is the Panasonic ErgoFit RP-TCM125-K. Very similar in sound, slightly lower price point, a bit less resilient.
posted by D.Billy at 6:55 AM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I’ve gone through many pairs of Apple earbuds over the years. For me, it was always the connector, and they ALWAYS failed the same way — songs started to skip around or start/stop, then sound would go out of one ear. I assume this is because it’s in my pocket a lot and I’m pretty active. Apple will replace them as long as they’re under warranty, but I finally gave up and just bought a basic $20 Bluetooth pair — sound quality is not good, battery life leaves much to be desired, but if I’m biking or jogging I don’t care as much.

Which is to say for those commenting about “treat them with more care” — no. They’re just not robust. I don’t have a good recommendation, unfortunately, but a tough connector is what you probably want to be looking for.
posted by curious nu at 7:03 AM on August 10, 2018

Have you tried bluetooth headphones? I also used to kill headphones frequently and have found that the wireless ones fair much better.
posted by nalyd at 7:17 AM on August 10, 2018

I was coming here to also recommend the Panasonic ErgoFit RP-TCM125-K. I treat mine reasonably carefully but not super carefully and I’ve never broken a pair; if I have to replace them it’s becuase I lost them. Also they come in cute colors, if that’s your daughter’s jam.
posted by holborne at 7:30 AM on August 10, 2018

This isn't a teenager issue it's an Apple issue. It's not worth geeking out over, but the Lightning Connector represents a fundamental design decision about where the expensive technology belongs (in the connector or in the phone), and Apple's choice means that Lightning headphones are delicate and expensive and tend to break at the connector. Whether Apple does that on purpose to sell airpods is open to debate, but the facts are as they are.

What this means is that, as noted above, your best bet is to buy a converter, treat it with care (which it sounds like your daughter does) and add whatever standard wired earbuds she likes. That way if/when the Lightning connector dies -- and it will -- you are only replacing the (relatively) inexpensive converter.
posted by The Bellman at 7:49 AM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

The lightning port is awful, but let me also caution you that headphone breakage (in my long-ago teenage experience with standard headphone jacks) mostly happens during storage. Wrapping them around something, jostling them about in a full school bag etc is death to cables. So whatever you choose (personally I went fully Bluetooth, tho I swore I wouldn't), make sure she has a (not too flimsy) little pouch or sth to put them in when not in use.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 11:21 AM on August 10, 2018

I have had luck with Urbanears, although you’d either have to buy the adapter or get Bluetooth ones. Though I have not tried them myself, the Stadion Bluetooth look very sturdy.
posted by 3zra at 2:58 PM on August 10, 2018

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posted by iNfo.Pump at 7:08 PM on August 10, 2018

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