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Ready for iPhone 7: the headphones with Lightning connector announced so far

Posted: , by Nick T.

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Ready for iPhone 7: the headphones with Lightning connector announced so far

Like it or not, the next iPhone may pass on the headphone jack. According to rumors about the iPhone 7, as the handset is likely to be called, the phone might drop the industry-standard 3.5-millimeter connector in favor of audio output via the phone's Lightning port. A "deal with it" joke would have been great to have here, but we know many of us don't really feel like laughing. Many of us know that pretty much every pair of wired earphones we own could be incompatible with Apple's next big smartphone, unless we buy a fancy schmancy adapter... for $99 or something like that.

But in all seriousness, audio over an iOS device's Lightning port comes with its advantages. Quality is one of them, as the signal gets sent digitally to an external DAC and amplifier, which in turn should be able to provide greater fidelity. Some companies are already exploring the possibilities of Lightning audio output and have products of their own that use Apple's connector instead of the standard 3.5-millimeter jack. And yes, these products will be compatible with an iPhone 7 lacking a headphone jack. Let's take a look at the few headphones with a Lightning connector announced so far.

JBL Reflect Aware


The JBL Reflect Aware is a sporty pair of earphones with noise cancellation and adaptive noise control. What this means is that background noise isn't only passively reduced by the buds' rubber sleeves, but also actively minimized by dedicated microphones. The active noise cancellation magic works without requiring additional batteries, as power is drawn straight from the Lightning port of the iOS device the JBL Reflect Aware is connected to. And when you want to, you may allow a limited amount of ambient noise to come through. You know, for safety's sake. That is done from an app you download on your iOS device. Inside the Reflect Aware beat a pair of 14.8mm drivers with a frequency response from 10 Hz to 22 kHz, according to their specs. Sound properties aside, JBL's Lightning earphones are sweat-proof and feature a reflective cable for those night-time jogging sessions. (Oddly, the earphones' specs page mentions nothing about these being able to make calls. Keep that in mind before hitting that Add to Cart button.)

Price: $159.95 (Coming soon) Colors: blue, black, red, teal


Philips Fidelio NC1L


The Philips Fidelio NC1L is an on-ear pair of earphones with flat-folding design and memory foam cushions. What's more interesting, however, is that they're also blessed with the magic of noise cancelling, enabled by the four microphones built into the cans. The mode can be on or off, whether you don't or do want to hear the sounds of your surroundings. And a third mode is designed to improve call quality – yes, you may make phone calls while wearing these. Inside the Philips Fidelio NC1L ticks a 24-bit digital-to-analog converter that feeds audio to a pair of neodymium drivers. Again, the hardware requires no additional batteries, as power is drawn from the iPhone's. 

Oddly, the headphones are supposed to be out in the U.S., but we're having a hard time finding any retailer who has them in stock. If you do own a pair of these, do let us know in the comments!

Price: $299 (Available soon, perhaps?)

The Philips Fidelio NC1L feature a Lightning connector and active noise cancellation

The Philips Fidelio NC1L feature a Lightning connector and active noise cancellation


Philips Fidelio M2L


Unlike the NC1L, the Philips Fidelio M2L is a pair of Lightning earphones you can actually buy. Albeit at a steep price. What you get in exchange is a pair of on-ear cans featuring a 24-bit, 48 kHz DAC and an amp driving the 40-millimeter neodymium drivers together. What you don't get, however, is active noise cancellation, which is a bummer. Tech specs mention a frequency response of 7 Hz to 25 kHz and a sensitivity of 107 decibels. 

Price: $299 (Much cheaper on Amazon)


Audeze EL-8 Titanium


Before we say anything about what these cans can do, we have to point out that they're priced at $800. Still with us? Okay. Then you might be thrilled to know that the Audeze EL-8 headphones feature 100-millimeter planar magnetic drivers. We won't get much into technical details here. All that matters is that compared to standard dynamic drivers, planar magnetic ones deliver more accurate sound. Speaking of sound, the EL-8 comes with a built-in 24-bit DAC paired with an amplifier delivering tons of power to the drivers. Specs mention a frequency response from 10 Hz to 50 kHz and a maximum SPL exceeding 130 decibels. There are several more things we have to mention. The Audeze EL-8 Titanium are designed to connect over Apple's Lightning connector, but they can be used with a standard 3.5-millimeter jack as well. And yes, you can make phone calls with these, as well as call up Siri when her assistance is required. 

Price: $799.95 (Available now)


55 Comments
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posted on 08 Jan 2016, 09:02 2

1. GreenMan (Posts: 1515; Member since: 09 Nov 2015)


(YAWN) Next...

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 09:30 7

7. Johnnokia (Posts: 1116; Member since: 27 May 2012)


We are laughing at Apple now, but I'm confident that most of Android OEMs will follow Apple's steps and make a smiliar handset audio port in 2017.

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 09:37 22

12. PopeFrancis (Posts: 59; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)


USB audio can already do this today in many phones, there's no need for any "handset audio port in 2017".

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 09:42 16

15. Rafishant (Posts: 298; Member since: 13 Oct 2015)


Unfortunately Agree.
Just look at these trends:
- Full capacitive touch screen.
- Apps store.
- Non-Removable battery.
- Micro sim and Nano sim.
- Finger print scanner.
- Apple pay.
- Force- pressure touch screen.
- I don't wanna talk about the Apple design mania that manufacturers try to mimic or copy after evey new iPhone release.
Apple was not first, but they started those trends.

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 10:28 11

26. Switch00 (Posts: 501; Member since: 04 Sep 2013)


Great comment. Ugly antenna stripes, rose gold, no dedicated camera button, cheap ugly included white earphones (instead of lets say nokia's superb wh-701), ... In many ways Apple is not the first. But sets the trend, many times inferior, which others blindly follow.

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 10:44 4

27. willard12 (Posts: 1757; Member since: 04 Jul 2012)


I agree with your sentiment that lots of things become more mainstream after Apple implements them. But, if you aren't first, then you didn't start anything. If Apple adopted it, then it had to have already been trendy enough for them to know about it and decide to implement it themselves.

This is also hit and miss with Apple. If it were up to Apple, screen sizes on phones would still be around 3.5 inches. No one is rushing to increase the size of bezels in their devices. No one jumped on the 30-pin bandwagon and they are jumping on lightning connectors either. Some form of USB is still the standard and will remain so. Apple didn't exactly make MMS and 4G LTE "trendy". Apple made fun of styluses (or pencils) and large tablets with keyboard covers before making them.

I guess my overall point is this goes both ways, especially in terms of design. Apple takes cues from everyone else, everyone else take cues from each other, everyone else takes cues from Apple. But, Apple clearly doesn't have a monopoly on bringing things to the mainstream. And when they do, it doesn't always catch on.

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 15:12 1

37. marorun (Posts: 4034; Member since: 30 Mar 2015)


Fully agree with you williard12.

Apple did bring some good stuff to mobile industry but other oem also did the same ( look how many features and hardware they copied from others... )

Its go both way but this removing 3.5 mm jack is only a way to bleed more cash from iphone user and thats a reality i will make sure to inform my client about this when they iphone 7 come out if they indeed removed the 3.5 jack.

Phone are already tin enuf anyway we need bigger batterie not tinner phone.

posted on 10 Jan 2016, 07:17

56. xfire99 (Posts: 881; Member since: 14 Mar 2012)


- Full capacitive touch screen. - Correct.
- Apps store. - Android market also comes with firsts smartphone.
- Non-Removable battery. - Since when did iphone had removable battery?
- Micro sim and Nano sim. - Correct.
- Finger print scanner. - On smartphones yes.
- Apple pay. - Google Wallet started this. Also there were others mobile payments solutions before Google Wallet and Apple Pay.
- Force- pressure touch screen. - What trend? Only Huwaei Mate S have it and maybe Galaxy S7 regards rumours.

posted on 09 Jan 2016, 12:45

50. LionStone (Posts: 760; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)


HTC One A9 already has a built-in DAC that converts 16 bit audio to 24 bit hi-res audio...So no, we are still laughing at apple...

posted on 09 Jan 2016, 03:53

49. Elfmonster (unregistered)


This is the only thing I envy of Apple. I can't wait to use the USB in Android for audio, if phones ever live up to the capability announced for lollipop that doesn't work. It's my number one wishlist item.

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 09:03 1

2. byazatt (Posts: 269; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


Thanks but no thanks. I'll pass

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 09:10 8

3. Hallyu (Posts: 470; Member since: 21 Jul 2015)


What kind of headphone is that last one to cost more than a flagship smartphone does? I wonder if there are any dumb people to waste money on it. LoL by making partnership with those brands, I think Apple has finally found an extra method to rip it fans off. And this time, it's huge. LoL

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 09:34 9

8. Wiencon (Posts: 1936; Member since: 06 Aug 2014)


Seems you don't know s&it about quality gear

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 15:13 2

38. marorun (Posts: 4034; Member since: 30 Mar 2015)


Senheiser one at 400-500$ are as good as this crap and are more durable.

i dont say they make bad quality headphone just thats they are overpriced just like Apple product are.

posted on 09 Jan 2016, 21:49

54. mixedfish (Posts: 1226; Member since: 17 Nov 2013)


Which Sennheiser for $400-500 has a built in DAC and amp?

Clueless confirmed.

posted on 09 Jan 2016, 21:46

53. mixedfish (Posts: 1226; Member since: 17 Nov 2013)


Samsung lover, go figures.

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 17:08

47. Mr.Z. (banned) (Posts: 32; Member since: 08 Jan 2016)


I to lol. Who cares about those dumbass idiots. They was never with us. They belong differently. Like Apple says: "think different "!

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 09:11 15

4. PopeFrancis (Posts: 59; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)


Thank you Apple, but I'll support open standards, USB audio can already do this.

I really don't get why people would get on board with this ideology of dividing technology, if Apple adopted common standards instead of making their own, we all would benefit, as we would have more accessories at a better price, but of course, this is what has made Apple so rich. I just hope someday people become aware and say NO to this kind of behavior.

The Macbook moving to a USB type C por was a good move IMHO, but all the iOS ecosystem is so closed and controlled, that it makes me sick.

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 09:21

5. artificialintelligence (Posts: 154; Member since: 05 Dec 2015)


So these companies think they can charge absurd prices because they are affiliated with apple ? No headphones are worth $799 yet alone $299 lmao $299 for some Philippines headphones that's like putting caviar in a big Mac and charging $100 I hope these sit in to shelves

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 09:38 4

13. Wiencon (Posts: 1936; Member since: 06 Aug 2014)


You too. There are people with good ears that appreciate good quality audio. 1000$ + headphones aren't nothing new, these models here are expensive because they are very high end but I guess you never tried any headphones above 100$ price tag and are listening to Spotify or mp3's

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 10:47 2

28. jmonteiro829 (Posts: 197; Member since: 13 Feb 2012)


Not sure what audiophile would use their iPhone to pair with super expensive headphones and call that quality listening.

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 13:09

34. Jimrod (Posts: 1415; Member since: 22 Sep 2014)


Depends on the file, the DAC in the iPhone is fine. It's not the limiting factor.

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 14:23

35. btbotimtim (Posts: 199; Member since: 08 Dec 2010)


what kind of DAC do they use?

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 15:53

46. Jimrod (Posts: 1415; Member since: 22 Sep 2014)


http://www.kenrockwell.com/apple/iphone-5/audio-quality.htm

There's plenty of info on it. As with all portable devices it's better playing into an amp where it's pretty much as good as any source device regardless of cost, once you have to power a resistant load it'll be detrimental to the sound but for more efficient headphones no real problem.

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 15:14

39. marorun (Posts: 4034; Member since: 30 Mar 2015)


I can get headphone for half the price of those with same quality from other OEM like Senheiser per exemple so sorry dude your arguments is worthless.

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 09:23 6

6. wando77 (Posts: 1007; Member since: 23 Aug 2012)


Great..... until you want to charge your iPhone while listening to music. Maybe there will be wireless charging to counter that but then have you got to take a wireless charger EVERYWHERE with you to be able to charge and listen at the same time?

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 10:18

21. AlikMalix (Posts: 6486; Member since: 16 Jul 2014)


Well you'll have to take your wall outlet with you everywhere too. I use wireless BT headphones that last thru the workday. They also allo full control of the audio and calls and will take Siri commands. They cost me $27. Time to let go of that ambilical cord, my friend.

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 11:00 5

30. UglyFrank (Posts: 1757; Member since: 23 Jan 2014)


Charging headphones everyday is less practical than a 3.5 mm jack,

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 14:24

36. AlikMalix (Posts: 6486; Member since: 16 Jul 2014)


Depends on your needs. I bet the headphones work with and without the cord. You can use the cord while not charging and when you need the port for something else - headphones that come with new "jack-less" iPhone will be able to work ALSO without a cord. That would be more convenient than headphones that need cord all the time that every phone uses now. Best of both worlds.

Just my speculation.

posted on 08 Jan 2016, 15:16 1

40. marorun (Posts: 4034; Member since: 30 Mar 2015)


I have a portable battery charger so yeah my wall outlet is everywhere i go ( 12000 mah as big as a cigaret pack )

With iphone super battery life you need extra charge!.

As for bluetooth headset the quality is far from same priced wired one unless you buy overpriced crap like beat.

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