Top five best iPhone headphones for 2021
When you’re choosing headphones to pair with your iPhone, there are a few things to consider. First of all, how good are the ones that came with it in the box and should you replace them?
If you do choose to upgrade, you’ll need to think about compatibility (especially for control buttons on the headphones), how portable you want them to be and, of course, the sound quality they’ll give you. Durability is important, too - if you’re carrying your headphones around with you all day, you’ll need a pair that won’t fall apart too quickly. Finally, you’ll probably also want a pair with a built-in microphone so you can take calls while using your headphones.
From the iPhone 7 onwards, iPhones no longer have a headphone socket, which means you can only use wired headphones with a Lightning cable connector or wireless headphones. You can also use an adaptor to use headphones with a traditional headphone jack. Our top selections, below, include a variety of types to suit your preferences and needs.
The table, also below, rounds up our top recommended headphones for using with an iPhone. Pick one of these pairs and you’ll enjoy crystal-clear sound quality from your iPhone, whether you’re listening to music or talking with friends and family.
Best iPhone headphones
Pricing and recommendations correct as of January 2021.
iPhone headphones to avoid
Pick the wrong headphones to pair with your iPhone and you could be regretting your decision every day. Simply spending more money isn't a guarantee of quality either. We've tested expensive pairs from leading brands that sound terrible - see the table below. Not all headphones connect conveniently to iPhones either - some lack the most basic controls, so you'll be taking your phone out of your pocket every time you want to adjust the volume.
What to consider when choosing iPhone headphones
Not all headphones are compatible with iPhones. Wired models that feature controls on the cable will need to have the right headphone plug to work with iPhones, as there is a different design for Android phones. Headphone manufacturers will often make separate versions of their headphones for Apple and Android, so it’s wise to double-check before you buy.
Most wireless headphones will be compatible with iPhones, but it's important to check whether every feature the headphones you're looking at is compatible if it's something you need. For example, some headphones with voice-assistant support might not work with Apple's Siri.
In-ear headphones tend to be much more portable than on-ear and over-ear headphones, so you may wish to choose one of the in-ear pairs from the table, above, if you don't want the bulk of storing a large pair of headphones, although many on-ear and over-ear headphones fold for more convenient storage.
On the flipside, some people simply don't get on with in-ear headphones and don't find them comfortable, so choosing a compact pair of on-ear headphones might be a good compromise. On-ear headphones rest on your ears, while over-ear headphones surround them completely. Over-ear headphones tend to be more comfortable if listening continuously for hours on end, as they don't put pressure on your ears.
Of course, when you’re taking your headphones around with you all day, you want a pair that isn’t going to break easily. Over-ear headphones tend to be the best in this respect, but that’s because they demand it - their bulky size means you can’t throw them around as easily. If you look after your in-ear headphones well by keeping them in a pouch and away from the bottom of your bag, they should last a long time. Generally speaking, if you go for a very cheap pair of in-ear headphones, you shouldn't expect them to last for many years of consistent use.