Apple Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone AdapterSource: Rene Ritchie / iMore

Best Headphone Jack Adapter iMore 2021

Let's face it — nobody likes extra cables or dongles, but if you want to use your precious headphones with the latest iPhones and iPads, they are a must. There are many options to choose from these days, including Bluetooth headphone adapters that make your old pair wireless, but the best headphone jack adapters keep things simple. We love the Belkin 3.5mm Audio + Charge RockStar for its versatility with charging capabilities, and it has the critical MFi certification. Here's our guide to the best headphone jack adapters that you can buy today.

Best Overall: Belkin 3.5mm Audio + Charge RockStar

Best Headphone Jack Adapter 2020 Belkin 3.5 mm Audio + Charge RockStar Source: Belkin

Belkin's 3.5mm Audio + Charge RockStar headphone adapter is both durable with a thick rugged cable and convenient with a lightning and headphone port onboard. Sound quality is reliable, and it, of course, allows you to charge your phone with a Lightning cable and use a wired speaker or headphones. While it doesn't match USB-C, it will enable fast-charging, up to 12W — the same speed you get when using an iPad power adapter.

Belkin's adapter is available in two configurations, so pay close attention before purchasing. One version converts a single Lighting port into two lightning ports, effectively requiring two different dongles if your headphones have a 3.5mm plug. Get this one only if you plan on using Lightning headphones such as the EarPods that come with your phone. However, the one we recommend to most is the version that includes one Lightning and one 3.5mm port.

Pros:

  • Lightning and 3.5mm ports
  • Fast charging up to 12W
  • Rugged and well built
  • 3.5mm and lightning variants

Cons:

  • Bulky
  • Full speed fast charging

Best Overall

Belkin Headphone Audio Charge Rockstar

Belkin 3.5mm Audio + Charge RockStar

HQ audio and fast charging

The Belkin Rockstar includes a 3.5mm adapter and lightning so you can listen to your tunes and charge your phone at the same time.

Best Value: Apple Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter

Apple Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone AdapterSource: Rene Ritchie / iMore

Apple's Lightning to 3.5mm adapter is easily the best adapter around if you are looking for the basics. It is relatively inexpensive, is MFi certified, and even comes in the box with older iPhone models. Of course, that's assuming that you don't need passthrough charging (wired charging while listening to wired headphones).

Apple's adapter also features a similar amp and digital-to-analog converter to the one found in the iPhone 6s, which allows it to drive most consumer-level headphones or speakers. With its low price point and small size, we recommend picking up one for the home and one for the bag, so that you always have one with you.

Pros:

  • Cost-effective
  • MFi certified
  • Small and easy to stow away
  • Great sound quality

Cons:

  • Easy to lose
  • Thin cable, could break easily

Best Value

Apple Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter

Apple Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter

Inexpensive and MFi certified

Apple's affordable Lightning to 3.5mm adapter is the perfect match for iPhone with a sleek design and support for most headphones.

Best cable: Belkin 3.5 mm Audio Cable With Lightning Connector

Belkin Audio Cable With Lightning ConnectorSource: Belkin

The Belkin Lightning to 3.5mm cable is different than the rest of the crowd. It's not an adapter, but rather a cable that plugs directly into your iPhone's Lightning port and straight into your car's stereo or headphones with a male 3.5mm port on the other side of the cable.

While it's not the most practical situation, this cable works best if you plan on keeping it in one place like your home stereo, in a car, or on a dedicated pair of portable headphones. This cable is not worth it, though, if you plan on using your headphone or speaker with multiple non-Lightning devices.

Pros

  • Avoids the "dongle."
  • Stationary usage
  • Solid audio quality

Cons

  • Non-Lightning devices
  • Expensive

Best Cable

Belkin Audio Cable With Lightning Connector

Belkin 3.5mm Audio Cable With Lightning Connector

A non-dongle.

Belkin's cable works with home theater setups, cars, or headphones, all without a bulky plastic box hanging from your iPhone.

Best for iPad: Apple USB-C to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter

iPad Air 4 USB-C connectionSource: Apple

If you have the latest iPad Air or an iPad Pro with USB-C, you won't be able to use the same headphone jack adapter as your iPhone, so you will need yet another adapter. Thankfully, Apple's USB-C to 3.55mm Headphone Jack Adapter is relatively inexpensive, and it features a small footprint that makes it easy to throw in a bag.

Of course, since this adapter sports a USB-C connector, it also works with other devices that you may have, like an Android phone or laptop, including the latest MacBooks. The only downside here, though, is that it doesn't support passthrough charging, but if you need to top your phone off, you can always set it on a Qi charger while listening to your tunes.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Compact size
  • Works with the latest iPad Air and iPad Pro
  • Also works with other USB-C devices

Cons

  • Easy to lose
  • No passthrough charging

Best for iPad

Apple USB-C to Headphone Jack Adapter

Apple USB-C to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter

Made for iPad.

Apple's USB-C adapter is tiny, affordable, and MFi Certified. If you have a new iPad Air or an iPad Pro, this is the one to get.

Best Durability: UGREEN Headphone Adapter for Apple

Ugreen Lightning To Headphone AdapterSource: Amazon

UGREEN's Headphone Adapter for Apple offers greater durability over traditional options with braided-nylon and aluminum construction. The thicker braided-nylon cable on this adapter prevents damage from sharp bends, pulls, and punctures, plus it keeps things nice and tidy as it is harder to tangle.

The UGREEN adapter comes in both Space Gray-like black and silver option and a beautiful red that makes it stand out from the rest. This adapter is also MFi certified, ensuring that it will safely work with all the latest iPhones and iOS updates.

Pros

  • MFi certified
  • Available in unique colors
  • Durable Braided-nylon and aluminum construction

Cons

  • Thick, rigid cable
  • No passthrough charging

Best Durability

Ugreen Lightning To 35mm Headphone Adapter in red

UGREEN Headphone Adapter for Apple

Durable construction.

The UGREEN Headphones Adaptor features aluminum and nylon-braid construction that looks good and makes it durable.

Best Design: Mangotek Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Adapter

Mangotek Lightning To 3.5mm Headphone AdapterSource: Amazon

The Mangotek Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Adapter focuses on portability with a unique right-angle design. This design makes the adapter's overall size incredibly compact and looks better when in use as it doesn't protrude too far away from a phone or tablet.

Mangotek's adapter also includes a built-in keychain loop, so you can bring it along with you wherever you go without fear of losing it in your bag. Most importantly, though, Mangotek's adapter is MFi certified, so you don't have to worry about compatibility issues when you want to listen to your favorite tracks.

Pros

  • MFi certified
  • Unique right-angle design
  • Built-in keychain loop

Cons

  • No passthrough charging
  • Only available in black

Best Design

Mangotek Lightning To 3,5mm Headphone Adapter

Mangotek Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Adapter

Always with you.

Mangotek's headphone Adapter sports a unique right-angle design with a keychain loop, allowing you to keep it on you at all times.

The bottom line

Whether you are clinging on to an old favorite or don't want to mess with charging and pairing, the best headphone jack adapters ensure that your pair will work with the latest iPhones and iPads. There are tons of options to choose from these days, some offering premium materials, passthrough charging, and travel-friendly designs. However, the most important thing to look for is MFi certification — which all of the adapters on this guide have.

The 3.5 mm Audio + Charge RockStar from Belkin is your best bet if you want a little bit of everything. Its combination of ports allows for 12w fast charging as well as audio playback via the standard 3.5mm jack so you can keep your phone topped off while rocking out. Also, since it is from Belkin, you know you are getting solid construction as close to Apple as you can get.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author:

Christopher Close spends most of his time writing and dreaming about all things HomeKit for iMore. If you wish to join him on his quest to automate everything, you can follow him on Twitter at @itschrisclose.

Author:

Peter Cao has spent years testing and analyzing audio. He's constantly trying out new audio gear and comparing them to others on the market.

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