To listen to music on every iPhone since the iPhone 7, you either need a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones, a 3.5mm to Lightning converter (no longer included in the box for 2018 and later iPhones) or a pair of wired headphones that will connect to the Lightning port.
Lightning headphones do have a special quality; they're capable of receiving lossless stereo 48kHz digital audio output from Apple devices and sending mono 48kHz digital audio input. They can also draw power from an Apple device (even if the device is asleep).
Apple's Lightning port can also support headphones with integrated digital-to-analogue converters (DACs) and amplifiers, so audio travelling through the Lightning port will pass into the headphones digitally, thus avoiding typical analogue signal interferences you get with other headphones.
We've picked some of the best pairs of Lightning headphones available now, comprising over-ear and in-ear models, at a variety of price points.
Audeze Sine is a pair of on-ear Lightning headphones, that we've had the pleasure of listening to. Like the EL-8 Titanium below, the Sine have a 24-bit DAC integrated into the cable for high-resolution audio, and also have planar magnetic drivers to help keep distortion at bay. We couldn't fault the Sine when we reviewed them, so if it's the best Lightning headphones you're after, look no further.
Audeze EL-8 Titanium
They're not cheap at around £700, but the Audeze EL-8 Titanium are sure to give you a fantastic sound from their combination of planar magnetic drivers and a dedicated DAC integrated into the cable. The DAC bypasses the iPhone's internal one and so is capable of handling high-resolution audio, whether it be from a streaming service or local files.
Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature
B&W's Signature line represents the very best the company can produce, and the P9 over-ear headphones are no different. While on the outside they show off the finest Italian leather, it's inside the ear cups where the magic really happens. They're tuned by the same audio engineers who made the company's high-end 800 D3 loudspeakers, and the drivers are angled slightly towards the ear to make them sound closer to you. They're not limited to being used with the iPhone however, as B&W simply supplies a Lightning cable alongside the regular 3.5mm.
Libratone Q-Adapt in-ear
Libratone's Q Adapt in-ear Lightning headphones use the power from the Lightning port to power their CityMix noise cancellation technology. There are four varying levels of noise cancellation, which either lets some external noise in, so you're aware of your surroundings, or blocks it out entirely.
Like their on-ear and over-ear brethren, the Audeze iSine10 use planar magnetic drivers in their construction and come supplied with a Lightning "Cipher" cable that you can attach to connecting to the Lightning port of your iPhone. This means you get an integrated 24-bit DAC capable of improving the quality of music, in conjunction with a dedicated app that lets you adjust the equaliser settings in real-time. They produce an incredibly well-balanced sound and let's be honest, look damn cool. But these are £300 in-ear headphones.
JBL Reflect Aware
If you're someone who loves to exercise while listening to music, the JBL Reflect Aware warrant your attention. Their sports-focused design means they're water- and swear-resistant and as the name implies, they have a reflective coating that reflects light if you're out on roads in the dark, so drivers can see you. They feature noise-cancelling tech that can be turned on or off within the dedicated companion app but most importantly, they sound great, if a little bass-heavy at times.
Pioneer Rayz Plus
The Pioneer Rayz Plus have built-in noise-cancelling technology that promises to adapt to your ears, but also lets in enough external noise to make sure you stay aware of your surroundings. When you take them out of your ears, the music you were listening to automatically pauses and starts again when you put them back in.
A convenience key on the in-line controls can be set to open a music app, mute calls or launch Rayz controls, which allows you to adjust various headphone settings. Perhaps one of the best features of the Rayz Plus though, is they let you charge your iPhone while listening to music.
1More Dual Driver ANC
These 1More headphones, like many other pairs on this list, have a dedicated DAC integrated into the cable. The DAC module also has a five-way control button, which lets you control virtually all aspects of music playback. They have active noise cancellation technology too, which 1More says effectively blocks out plane, train and other everyday noises.