Apple’s obsession with lopping ports off its devices has spawned a whole industry of dangling dongles. Every time Apple removes hole to slim down an iPhone or a MacBook, or to make space for a bigger battery, somebody else fills that gap with an external widget that does the exact same thing, only messier and more expensive.
The latest in this dongle parade is the AmazonBasics Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Audio Adapter with Remote and Lightning Charging Port, a product whose name tells you almost everything you need to know.
This little white widget plugs into the Lightning port of any iDevice and offers you a standard 3.5mm headphone jack socket, along with another Lightning port. This solves the iPhone 7’s biggest problem: you can’t use wired headphones (or speaker) and charge the phone at the same time.
Apple’s answer is to use Bluetooth headphones — AirPods, for example — or to use the “wireless” charging option on the newer iPhones 8 and X. But those aren’t always good options. You might have fancy wired headphones, or you might be on a plane where Bluetooth isn’t allowed, or you’re making music, where Bluetooth’s latency is a problem. And a Qi charging pad has to remain in contact with the phone the whole time, which is way less convenient than charging with a cable.
Better than Belkin?
Amazon’s adapter is Apple MFi certified, and has remote-control buttons on the side for playback and volume control — a nice touch if used with headphones that don’t have this already. But the real win here is that the widget works with normal headphones. Belkin also makes an adapter that lets you charge your iPhone and use headphones at there same time, but it assumes that you’ll be using the Lightning EarPods that came in with your iPhone, and therefore sports two Lightning ports. If you want to use regular headphones, you need to hang another adapter off the Belkin adapter to do it, which is absurd.
So the Amazon Basics adapter looks like the best option right now. The only question is whether it sounds any good. By all accounts, Apple’s own Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter sounds identical to the old internal jack. Because an adapter has to convert the digital signal to an analog signal that drives the headphones, it needs to be of good quality. Until we try the Amazon adapter we won’t know how it measures up, but at $35 it’s not too expensive to try it out.
Buy from: Amazon