Well, another year and another incremental evolution for Apple’s iPhones.
Whether you are blown away or disappointed, there is no denying the new 2018 iPhone XS, XS Max and XR are solid upgrades from last years first every X model.
This is a common theme in technology: the first iteration is rarely the best. The 2017 iPhone X featured a whole range of new features, including a near-bezel-less screen with a new, now infamous Face ID notch and of course, faster processors. The iPhone X however wasn’t without it’s fair share of bugs.
Well, with the XS and XS Max and XR all of those little bugs have been sorted out and the result is the smoothest, most powerful iPhone to date. In addition to dazzling new OLED screens and faster processors, one of the biggest features (or lack thereof in this case) is the removal of the Lightning-to-3.5mm dongle adapter.
So you got your brand new OLED iPhone, but how do you go about jamming to your tunes? Well, you could go Bluetooth, but that presents a whole new set of problems including limited battery life and poor audio quality.
Lucky for you, and everybody who upgraded to the new XS, XS Max and XR models, there are a whole range of lightning-cable headphones already on the market that can plug directly into your new smartphone! It’s time to say goodbye to dongles forever!
Best Lightning Headphones Under $100
There’s no need to spend a fortune for some reliable cabled headphones for your new iPhone or iPad Pro. These options will allow you to jam out to your favorite tunes without every worrying about Bluetooth battery levels or sound degradation that comes with wireless audio.
Of the above models our favorite are the Urbeats 3 and the 1MORE Triple Driver earbuds. The Urbeats bring reliable Dre quality and that solid bass that all hip-hop fans will appreciate.
The 1MORE Triple Drivers on the other hand, featuring three separate drivers (the components that actually make the sound!) are truly astonishing in how balanced they are.
- LIGHTNING CONNECTOR- As the first triple driver Lightning headphone ever, this MFi certified version of our industry leading multi-award winning Triple Driver In-Ear is perfect for Apple iOS...
- 5-IN-1 CONTROLLER- Exclusive five-directional button allows you to make crystal clear calls, activate voice control, adjust volume, and change tracks effortlessly.
- THREE DRIVERS + HD DAC- Two balanced armatures (like mini tweeters) + one titanium dynamic driver (like a mini speaker) and a high definition DAC deliver superior definition with lossless...
From super low bass to solid and warm mids to crisp and clear highs the Triple Drivers make full use of each and every one of their internal drivers.
*It should be noted that 1MORE regularly discounts the Triple Driver, so it is always worth double checking the price online to make sure you can find the best deal possible.
Best Lightning Headphones Under $500
This category contains some of our favorite models. Here you get headphones that will last and that also sport a wide variety of brand new technology, from triple-driver earbuds to intelligent equalizing via dedicated apps, the under $500 category is a perfect mix of innovation and value.
The sub-$500 category is a juicy one with an equally intriguing selection of both in-ear, over-ear and on-ear types of headphones. So, many decisions will be made on personal preference depending on what feels more comfortable to you.
We enjoy all types of headphones. Earbuds are great for commuting and the gym, while on-ear and over-ear models are great for desk work, either at home or the office.
- The World's First On-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones - Experience better bass, better transients, and the lowest distortion through a crafted blend of modern industrial design, top-quality build,...
- With Lightning Cable for Apple Users - Our 24-bit lightning cable brings a significantly better sound through its built-in amplifier, DAC and DSP that lets you bypass the internal system in your...
- Customize With The Audeze iOS App - Personalize your music playback with a 10-band equalizer that changes EQ in real time, and refine bass levels and tamp down highs on peaky recordings with the...
We really like the Audeze Sine’s because they were some of the first headphones that were developed from the beginning to feature unique technology (planare magnetic) made possible by powered smart connectors like Lightning cables.
They Sine cans also fall in a very sweet price spot that combines quality and craftsmanship but doesn’t completely break the bank in the process!
Best lightning Headphones Under $1,000
These are the pro leagues in terms of audio quality and advanced features. Headphones in this range are bought not just for the casual commute or office use but for audiophiles who can’t live with anything but the best, and who also hate Bluetooth and dongles!
The sub $1,000 category is a tough one to choose a favorite. At this price range nothing sucks, it’s all top quality and engineering and hits all the sweet spots we could possibly ask for in a pair of headphones.
While we like earbuds the Audeze iSine’s are a bit clunky for what we usually use earbuds for: commuting and working out/exercising.
That leaves the Audeze EL-8 Titanium and the Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature. They are both outstanding cans, featuring not just amazing engineering but also top quality materials like “Uniforce diaphragms” (EL-8) and Nappa leather (P9).
- The P9 Signature deliver pristine sound that takes you to the very heart of your favorite music. Crystal clear treble, insightful midrange and a deep solid bottom end combine breathtaking...
- The P9 Signature headphones are exquisitely crafted from luxuriously high quality materials. Italian Saffiano leather and a forged foldable aluminum arms for greater durability and headband...
- New proprietary piston diaphragm speaker drivers deliver a unique coloration-free audio experience. The angled drivers also bring a superior spatial sound stage for a unique and immersive...
Choosing between these two titans of audio listening we personally would go with the Bowers & Wilkins P9, primarily just because we like the design language and slightly smaller profile compared to the, dare we say, clunky EL-8s.
There is no doubt though, for true audiophile comfort listening on a couch or reading chair at home, the EL-8’s would be more tempting.
Lightning Cans Summary
There is not doubt about it, dongles suck. From fraying and breaking cables to their small size and ease of getting lost there really is no love lost that Apple decided not to include them with new shipments.
The emerging lightning-cable headphone industry that rushed in to fill the vacuum for audio-lovers is both exciting and astonishing in how fast it is developing new technology.
From customizable equalizer apps to battery-free active noise cancelling, the features being incorporated into Lightning-powered gear make for a very exciting next couple of years!
*Have you purchased any of the above reviewed models? If so please let us know in the comments your opinions and recommendations. Likewise, if we forgot to mention a brand you feel deserves inclusion let us know in the comments as well and we’ll be sure to look into them!
Last update on 2018-12-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API