Iphone

7 of the best headphones for the iPhone 7


The headphone jack may be out, but Bluetooth and W1 chips are in. We compare AirPods, Beats, and others that take advantage of the iPhone 7’s audio changes.

Disclosure

Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

Greetings, Team Apple. We’ve gathered you here today because you’re all now living a life of no headphone jack — and honestly, that can be pretty traumatizing. Welcome to your support group.

You’re probably thinking, “If Apple wouldn’t have tried to fix a problem that didn’t exist, this wouldn’t be an issue *mad face emoji*” And we feel you. We were just as annoyed as you were. 

But guess what: Apple didn’t remove the headphone jack to piss people off or because of some ulterior motive to make more money. “We are removing the audio jack because we have developed a better way to deliver audio. It has nothing to do with content management or DRM — that’s pure, paranoid conspiracy theory,” Apple’s Phil Schiller said about the mayhem.

But it’s gonna be okay, we promise.

The classic audio connector is literally 100 years old and hasn’t seen an update since the 60s. Apple knew there was a better, less ancient way to do things. Futuristic wireless stuff aside, one main reason for offing the 3.5mm headphone jack was to up the iPhone 7’s waterproofing abilities. The inside of an iPhone is, as Forbes calls it, valuable real estate, and the jack was simply taking up too much room.

Wouldn’t you rather deal with a dongle than with water damage and bowls of rice?

Waterproofing requires a new engine, which takes up more space — this now sits behind the non-mechanical home button of the 7. Ports are already hard to waterproof in themselves, and when Apple realized they could go from having to waterproof two ports to just one, the move was obvious. (This explains why the headphone jack is still in MacBooks — for now — as it’s easier to drop your phone in the toilet than it is your laptop.) Wouldn’t you rather deal with a dongle than with water damage and bowls of rice?

The headphone jack was also begging to collect lint, gunk, and other unexplained nastiness. This clogging leads to a half-assed connection, and the only solution is digging with a pin.

iPhone 7s come with Apple’s traditional EarPods and an adapter for the charging port, which you can use if you’re totally against having to charge headphones. (Seriously, some people are weirdly passionate about it.) But you’ll probably lose that dongle within the first week, and not being able to charge and listen to music at the same time? Just stop whining and come over to the dark side.

Whatever, aren’t all Bluetooth headphones the same?

Hard nope.

There is a light at the end of this tunnel, guys. To make up for the lack of the headphone jack, the iPhone 7 is equipped with a fancy new Bluetooth chip specific to Apple and a top-tier audio code for smooth wireless connection and high quality audio.

Other than the wireless thing, there are some important differences that even go past battery life, Bluetooth range, and other markers. For iPhone 7 users specifically (or any iPhone after that), you’ll want to look out for the W1 chip (that’s W for wireless) made by Apple, for Apple. They were not messing around when whipping this up.

Seamless connection is the name of the game here.

Seamless connection is the name of the game here: Headphones sporting Apple’s W1 chip means that they will automatically connect between any devices signed into your iCloud account, so you won’t have to mess with your Bluetooth menu (or wait five minutes for your phone to find the damn things). The W1 chip also sees improved battery life and improved connectivity over distances, including through walls or closed doors, going well past the traditional 30-foot range (like, up to 100 feet good). Currently, the only headphones we see with the W1 chip in are the , , , , and .

Clearly, a selection of five headphones isn’t gonna satisfy everyone, but there are other ways to get a good connection. Aside from amped-up Bluetooth performance with the W1 chip, the iPhone 7 also uses a special encoding scheme to wirelessly transmit the highest quality audio possible and optimize high frequencies that regularly get wonky. 

This special codec is called AAC (advanced audio coding), and it’s a step up from the traditional SBC codec — such a step up that no Android phones have it. AAC generally gives off a more accurate sound quality as MP3 at the same bit rate, plus better handling of high frequencies. In non-nerd terms: you’re getting more balanced sound with less fuzz in the background, so it’s more of hearing what the song is actually supposed to sound like and not sounding like it’s being heard through a tin can. It’s basically a way to finally make a wireless connection sound as good as a wired connection, so we can all stop holding onto EarPods for dear life. A lot of headphones don’t yet support AAC yet (though Apple is pushing for an AAC Bluetooth takeover), but we specifically made sure that the ones in our list do.

Because your headphones should make you feel like this:

Here are our top picks for headphones that work well for the iPhone 7 (but they’re clearly also great for models after the 7, too):


Insane battery life • Super comfy • Tons of color options • W1 chip

Only good for bass-heavy music • Meh noise cancellation

Ideal for bassheads, the Beats Solo3 are as close to perfect as possible with almost two days of battery life.

1. Beats Solo3

Perfect for bass lovers, the Beats Solo3 have untouchable battery life and an insane selection of colors.

  • Bluetooth range:
    300 feet
  • Battery life:
    40 hours
  • Apple’s W1 chip:
    Yes
  • Colors:
    Black, white, red, purple, gold, and 13 more
Who’s gonna say no to getting as close to perfect as possible? If you’re an over-the-ear person and have Apple’s W1 chip on your must-have list, the Beats Solo3 headphones are the all-encompassing pair that really could be your dream come true. As Mashable’s Ray Wong notes in his review of the Solo3s Plus, the fact that they come in the colors that match the iPhone 7’s palette plus numerous other vibrant and metallic shades is just the cherry on top.
These over-ear headphones are some next-level shit, providing quality and style in the same package instead of making you choose one or the other. Beats has *finally* achieved balanced bass (while the Solo and Solo2s were slightly scary and overbearing), sounding superb on the low-end with dubstep and poppy, auto-tuned vocals. We want to point out that Beats look modern on purpose. They were made for today’s music. If you’re a vinyl person and want those chill, quiet guitar tunes to be clear, looking elsewhere is advised. 
But the most impressive feat is battery life: It’s almost two days. You’ll get a whopping 40 hours of non-stop listening on one charge, which is over double what most competing headphones will get you. Super lightweight for over-the-ear headphones and sporting extra squishy pads, your Solo3s will stay comfy through your longest study sessions, flights, or Netflix binges. Whenever you need to pause, adjust volume, or talk to Siri, just use the handy on-ear control buttons.
The weirdest part? Aside from the fact that the audio quality doesn’t suit all types of music equally, we have almost nothing bad to say about them. When they first debuted, they were $300, which was an obvious complaint people had. However, now that they’ve been around for a while, the price has dropped to $197, which is extremely reasonable for all that they give you. Get them here.

Street cred that comes with Apple products • Siri and other smart features • Carrying case with 19-hour battery • W1 chip

No ear canal seal • No “Find my AirPods” app • Lack of control buttons

Aside from the cool factor that comes with Apple, the truly wireless AirPods offer smart features that you won’t find elsewhere.

2. Apple AirPods

Heavenly sound, a charging carrying case, and Apple street cred, all wrapped into inconspicuous buds.

  • Bluetooth range:
    100 feet
  • Battery life:
    5 hours (24 hours with carrying case)
  • Apple’s W1 chip:
    Yes
  • Colors:
    White
Here’s a huge surprise (not): Apple AirPods.
Purchasing an iPhone guarantees you the lightning headphones that iPhones always come with as well as the dongle, so no one is forced to buy a pair of AirPods. However, we know you clearly want to. If nothing else, you’re guaranteeing yourself some street cred.
Aside from the fact that you’ll look fancy AF with these, the AirPods do offer some seriously futuristic features. First of all, they’re smart. They’ll stop playing music when removed from your ear, and will resume playing when put back in. The extra holes house optical sensors with accelerometers — AKA your headphones know as much about your environment as your phone does. Second, you’ll get nuanced, balanced sound up, so you’ll hear it in the center of your head vs being blasted in one ear. Call quality is eh, so AirPods may not be your best bet if you’ll be taking calls via headphones a lot. Luckily, AirPods are also apparently receiving a much-needed revamp in 2019.
Mashable covered the release of the AirPods back in 2016 and reviewer Lance Ulanoff wrote:

“At the end of the song ‘Motherboard’ from Daft Punk’s Random Access Memory album, there’s just the sound of running water, which, on the AirPods, sounded as if I was witnessing a stream babbling by right in front of me.”

Not only is the magnetic carrying case that they come in extremely handy for traveling, it also carries an extra 19 hours of charge when it’s fully charged itself. And check this out: Even though the case itself doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity, opening the case signals to your phone and the AirPods to connect with each other. 
Priced at $159, the AirPods almost never go on sale. When they do, it’s usually only a $15 discount — but still, better than nothing. However, if you happen to see them marked down, do not hesitate to buy them, because that sale (or the stock) won’t last long. Find them here.


Top-tier noise cancellation • Crystal clear audio in all ranges • aptX HD wireless streaming

Pricey • Annoying pairing without W1 chip • Not comfy after long periods

The Bowers & Wilkins PX offer a heavenly combo of HD audio and smart features for a steep yet understandable price.

3. Bowers & Wilkins PX

A heavenly creation with HD sound that won’t require you to make any tradeoffs, other than a slight blow to your wallet.

  • Bluetooth range:
    33 feet
  • Battery life:
    20 hours
  • Apple’s W1 chip:
    No
  • Colors:
    Gold/blue, space grey
The Bowers & Wilkins PX Noise Cancelling Headphones are the heavenly combo of audio quality, noise cancellation, and smart features that you never thought existed. They won’t have super seamless pairing without Apple’s W1 chip, but everything else about them is A1. (See what we did there?)
Audiophiles are known to nitpick, but they have finally met their match with these  premium headphones by Bowers & Wilkins. Noise cancellation that actually works well is a rarity, but the PX make sure to seal everything out in what The Verge refers to as noise-cancelling nirvana. Using built-in sensors to adapt to your surroundings, the headset customizes to block distractions — regardless of whether you’re on public transportation, trying to study amidst obnoxious people, or are just extra sensitive to people chewing.
As for actual audio quality, it’s legendary. The PX use an aptX HD connection for high-res streaming, which is one step up from the already-great AAC coding. Somehow, the compact design packs a massive punch with expressive lows and clear-as-day highs, and a crisp range in between. To pause, just lift the right ear cup, and then put it back down to resume.
Downsides are minimal here, and the ones that do exist are pretty easy to ignore. They’re the most expensive on our list, but excellence doesn’t come cheap. The lack of the W1 chip means you’ll need some patience to pair them, which gets annoying — but after the first pairing, they should auto-pair to your iPhone when turned on. (Should.) We’ve also heard that they can get un-comfy after long bouts of wearing, but that’s expected with over-ear headphones. 
Regardless, the bad stuff is minuscule when compared to the excellent stuff you are getting. Get these bad boys for $394.99 here.

Earbuds are magnetic • Super comfy and inconspicuous • W1 chip

No auto power-down mode • Carrying pouch sucks compared to AirPods • Long, awkward cord

A stellar alternative to AirPods with seamless pairing, an inconspicuous fit, and magnetic buds to prevent getting lost.

The AirPods aren’t the only forerunner in the W1 chip earbud game. The Beat X Wireless Headphones are here to bring superb sound and seamless connection to your iPhone 7, giving you a seriously unique listening experience that’s pleasant and stress-free. They were named a pick, and that’s not given out lightly.
Damon Beres wrote in his review for Mashable:

“There’s something remarkable about the new Beats X earphones. It’s not so much their sound quality — which is pretty good — nor is it the rubbery build, their wirelessness or the ease with which they rest in your ears. No, it’s the combination of all these things with two very specific, additional ingredients: a W1 chip and an iPhone. Well, make that three: the chip, the phone and an obsessive enough brain to care about how it all intermingles.”

A lot of people who aren’t raging Apple obsessives actually really don’t like the strange way that AirPods hang from your ears — so it’s nice that there’s such an impressive W1 alternative. The BeatsX are tiny, inconspicuous, and will actually stay in your ears. They’re attached to each other and magnetic on the ends, which is a major plus for traveling as it prevents them from getting lost. The cord is a little awkward, but is full of controls for volume, pausing, calls, and Siri.
Audio on these puppies is pretty impeccable. If you’re an overly observant audiophile, you might feel that it’s screechy at times and can get a little sharp, but that’s better than static and missing out on details. The sound is still better than tons of other premium earbuds on the market.
Eight hours of battery life total isn’t bad, but is significantly shorter than others in the list. They last longer on their own than AirPods do, but the BeatsX don’t have a fancy built-in battery in their carrying case. (The case sucks, actually.) Beats also claims that charging the headphones for five minutes will get you two hours of battery life. You can try that out for yourself, but if anyone is going to pull that off for real, it’s Beats.
The BeatsX regularly go for $149.95, but are often dropped to as low as $109 on sale, which is a major steal. Get them here.


Sturdy fit • Impressive battery life • Extremely sculpted bass

Expensive for the quality

Gym goers and runners will fall in love with the PowerBeats 3’s secure fit, hyped-up bass, and reliable W1 chip connection.

5. Beats PowerBeats 3

  • Bluetooth range:
    100 feet
  • Battery life:
    12 hours
  • Apple’s W1 chip:
    Yes
  • Colors:
    Black, white
If you’re a frequent gym goer or runner, you understand how annoying it is to have your headphones constantly fall out of your ears. It’s distracting to your workout when you have to stop and adjust every five seconds, and honestly just makes you want to throw the headphones out the window. The Beats PowerBeats 3 and their secure ear hooks ensure that your earbuds actually, you know, stay in your ears so you can focus on pumping iron.
An improved version of their predecessor, the PowerBeats 3 offer a reliable fit, reliable sound, and reliable connection thanks to Apple’s W1 chip. The over-ear hooks are comfy and offer worry-free fit, but are still appealing and subtle enough that you won’t look like a total nerd. And you’ll be extra glad they’re staying in tight when you hear the sound of these babies thanks to their dual driver acoustics and sculpted details. We will warn that the bass can get a little too bumpin’, which may not provide the most accurate or peaceful sound. However, that’s not entirely a bad thing if you need that intense sound to get you hyped up for a workout. You’ll want to make sure you pick the right earbuds from the choices included, as the right fit will create a tight noise blocking seal. When you have that seal, the tip will maximize sound quality and turns this into one of the best-sounding sports earbuds on the market.
While an 8-hour battery is standard for earbuds of this size, we see a righteous 12 hours of battery here, letting you go multiple workouts without having to charge. That, plus the secure fit and superior Bluetooth connection with the W1 chip make these such easy grab-and-go headphones, getting rid of almost every fidgety thing that you’d have a problem with elsewhere. 
The biggest complaint with these guys is the price, as they’re a little steep for what they offer compared to competing sports earbuds. They do go on sale pretty frequently, and I guess you’re paying to have the iconic Beats name. Sacrifices, sacrifices.
Get them for $149.95 (often on sale for $109) here.

Amazing sound for wireless earbuds • “Find my buds” app • Carrying case with 12-hour battery • Will actually stay in your ears

Meh noise cancellation • Pricey • Bulky design

A heavier duty AirPods alternative, the Bose SoundSport Free Headphones go as hard as you do and are nearly impossible to lose.

6. Bose SoundSport Free

  • Bluetooth range:
    30 feet
  • Battery life:
    5 hours (15 hours with charging case)
  • Apple’s W1 chip:
    No
  • Colors:
    Black, blue, bright orange
Guess what: Not everyone looking for truly wireless headphones wants the AirPods. The Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless Headphones are a badass, more durable alternative, ideal for more hardcore activities with hardcore sound to match.
Being able to trust that a pair of truly wireless earbuds will stay in place while doing anything that’s not walking or sitting is hard, but Bose figured it out. These are sweat and weather resistant, coming with three different pairs of StayHear+ Sport tips for max comfort and security. And if you lose them, you’re not actually screwed. The Bose Connect app has a “Find my buds” feature — something competing manufacturers should take note of.
The sound quality is what’s really important, though. Bose creators focused on the tiniest technical aspects when making these, from circuits for improved sound to antenna position for maximum Bluetooth signal. Volume-optimized EQ makes music 3D and balanced at any volume, with highly sculpted bass and exceptional high and low ranges that aren’t often seen in anything but over-the-ear headphones. You’ll get five hours of battery one on charge, plus an extra 10 with the charging carrying case.
Unfortunately, a few drawbacks stick out. Hopefully you don’t mind a loud gym or screaming kids, because noise cancellation is subpar. You probably won’t notice much with how hypnotizing the sound is, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re super sensitive to external sounds. Also, they’re oddly bulky and really stick out of your ears — this is to house the appreciated on-ear controls, but still kind of weird.
Your wallet will feel a dent after this purchase, but with how heavy duty these things are, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get your money’s worth. Choose from three fun colors and get them for $199 here.

Super affordable • Considerable noise cancellation for the price

Could break easily • Cheap feeling

Low price does not equal low quality here, as the Treblab J1’s bass and noise cancellation can compete with the best.

7. Treblab J1

  • Bluetooth range:
    33 feet
  • Battery life:
    8 hours
  • Apple’s W1 chip:
    No
  • Colors:
    Black, white
Audiophiles and hardcore listeners might be fine with dropping a couple hundred bucks on headphones, but if you’re only using them sporadically to take calls or on commutes, a big investment probably isn’t necessary. The Treblab J1 earbuds are the perfect mix of price and quality, coming at just $39.50 for seriously impressive sound.
The J1s clearly aren’t the most premium headphones out there, but for a budget alternative to the BeatsX, they offer a lot. The small, barely noticeable earbuds pack a punch with 10 mm drivers, crystal clear treble, and booming bass — multiple people in the reviews mention that they were impressed with the range of musical genres these did well with. They also use the aptX codec, so streaming will be nearly perfect.
If you’re a gym rat, the J1s could be your new favorite workout buddy. All of Treblab’s earbuds come with numerous sizes of secure anti-drop ear fins, so you’re able to customize your fit to ensure that when they’re in, they’re in. They’re also sweatproof with an IPX6 rating, just one step down from the rating for devices that can be submerged in water for half an hour. Battery life is a so-so eight hours, but more than enough if you’re not a person who listens 24/7. 
And let’s discuss the noise cancellation for a sec: It’s like, really, really good. Outside noise is drowned out better than with some of the more expensive headphones on the market, using cVc 6.0 noise cancellation technology, which is basically the best you can get. Someone in the reviews mentioned that they use the J1s earplugs for target shooting so yeah, we’d say the noise cancellation is pretty spot on.
Because they’re 40 bucks, you can expect that the main concern is breaking easily or stopping working after a few months. It’s not likely, but it has happened to previous customers — but hey, they’re only $40.
Choose from black or white and get them for $39.50 here.

Happy listening.





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