Best Lightning Cable Headphones

Updated: Nov 9, 2023 7:54 AM
best lightning cable headphones featured image that shows the top three best headphone models

Now that Apple has combined ports and done away with the headphone jack entirely, finding the best lightning headphones to work with your new iPhone has gotten a lot more interesting. There are plenty of options and adapters available today, but we’ve gone out and purchased the top 15 lightning headphones to find the best products on the market.  If you’re looking for something with a bit more weight, try one of the best headphones for TV.

After we received the headphones, we plugged in and listened to our favorite tracks, specifically measuring audio quality, design, and durability. The results of our research show that the Apple EarPods with Lightning Connector offers the best overall experience. With a unique and comfortable earbud fit, great audio quality, and seamless Apple compatibility, the EarPods are easily our top choice. Keep reading to learn more about all five of our top picks for the best lightning headphones. If you prefer headsets, make sure you read about the best Bluetooth headsets on the market. Pretty soon you’ll be setting your best 3mm headphones to the side. With any of these headphones, you won’t have to rely on a standard 3.5mm pair anymore.

Top 5 Best Lightning Cable Headphones Compared

 #1  Apple EarPods with Lightning Connector Headphones

Award: Top Pick/Best Apple

WHY WE LIKE IT: Apple redefined earbuds when they first released the EarPods with the iPhone 5, and that trend continues with the EarPods with Lightning Connector. They’re extra comfortable and offer some of the best sound quality on our list.

  • Unique design offers comfortable fit
  • Solid audio quality with no harshness
  • Works seamlessly with Apple products
  • Bass isn’t very well defined
  • Not great for exercise
  • Slightly more fragile than other options

Apple’s EarPods with Lightning Connector are perhaps some of the most prolific lightning headphones out there today, and it’s easy to see why. Yes, they come free with a purchase of any new iPhone, but they’re also good enough that people don’t automatically go out and buy a new pair of headphones. For starters, the EarPods are designed well – as is the case with most everything Apple – with a unique shape specifically meant to mimic the geometry of the average human ear. These are definitely some of the most comfortable lightning headphones on our list, without needing all the squishy earbud pieces. Plus, these headphones are definitely the most high quality on our list.

If you’re an audiophile, you may not be pleased with the lack of definition in the bass here, but overall these headphones perform great for the average listener. The design also lends itself to minimizing sound loss (not to be mistaken with noise cancellation), making the audio quality even better. The Apple EarPods also include a handy inline mic and remote, giving you the option of controlling music, phone calls, and Siri without needing to take your phone out of your pocket. With these headphones, you can listen to music with consistent ease. In the end, you just can’t go wrong with the fit, sound quality and design of the Apple EarPods with Lightning Connector. Also, check out the best kids’ headphones. And, if you are an audiophile, check out the best audiophile headphones.

 #2  PALOVUE Earflow Lightning Headphones

Award: Honorable Mention/Best Comfortable

WHY WE LIKE IT: The PALOVUE Earflow lightning headphones are super comfortable and convenient with a magnetic necklace option perfect for commuters.

  • Most comfortable on our list
  • Magnetic earbuds for more convenience
  • Sturdy, durable build
  • No noise cancellation
  • Not sweatproof or waterproof
  • Bass could use a little work

One of the best features of the PALOVUE Earflow lightning headphones is found in their overall design and build quality. The earbuds are both magnetic, which means they’ll connect to each other when you’re not using them or if they fall out. This is super handy for using these on your commute since you won’t lose track of the earbuds during use. They’re also built to last, with good durability and a cable that doesn’t tangle easily. You’ll be using these headphones to listen to music for a long time. They’re also the most comfortable headphones with a lightning connector that we researched.

When it comes to sound quality, you won’t be disappointed with these PALOVUE headphones. They offer a good frequency response that can handle most types of music without sacrificing quality. They don’t get as loud as we would have liked, but this wasn’t too big of a problem unless you’re in an extra-noisy environment. If you’re looking for a pair of lighting headphones that offers long-lasting comfort, the PALOVUE Earflow lightning headphones are an excellent choice. If you are a runner, read about the best headphones for running.

 #3  LUNANI Lightning Headphones

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Award: Best Budget/Best Passive Noise Cancelling

WHY WE LIKE IT: The LUNANI lightning headphones are the best budget option on our list, coming in at a super affordable price while still offering excellent features like active noise cancellation and an ergonomic design.

  • Best priced on our list
  • Decent active noise cancellation
  • Stays in ear during exercise
  • Inline mic and remote feel flimsy
  • Not as loud as other options
  • Struggles with bass

It’s always a little risky buying “cheap” headphones, but if you’re on a budget, you don’t really have much of a choice. Fortunately, the LUNANI lightning headphones are a great budget option that doesn’t sacrifice too many features. What’s most impressive about these headphones with a lightning connector is that they offer active noise cancellation, which uses sound waves to eliminate ambient noise. This isn’t the most cutting-edge ANC, but it worked well enough during noisy commutes, especially when you consider that the ear tips were also designed to eliminate noise. All features we look for in the best headphones.

Sound quality is perhaps where this set of lightning headphones struggles the most. Highs can sound a little tinny and the bass isn’t the greatest, but these headphones are far from the worst we’ve ever tested. We were still able to enjoy our music and podcasts during our commute. We were also pleased to find that the LUNANI lightning headphones stay in your ear, even during exercise and other active applications. While these don’t sound great, you wouldn’t necessarily notice the difference. In the end, if you don’t have or want to spend a lot of money on a new pair of lightning headphones, then you’ll definitely need to consider the LUNANI lightning headphones.

 #4  Belkin RockStar Lightning Headphones

Award: Best Mic

WHY WE LIKE IT: With an amazing inline microphone and overall great sound quality, the Belkin Rockstar lightning headphones will have you rocking out in no time, whether on your commute or in the gym working out.

  • Superior microphone quality
  • Tangle-free cable design
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Doesn’t get as loud as other options
  • Might get uncomfortable after long periods of use
  • A little too bass-heavy

Let’s face the facts about lightning headphones with microphones. Not all the mics are good quality. In fact, the mics are probably the worst features of many wired headphones. However, that’s definitely not the case with the Belkin Rockstar lightning headphones. The microphone here is the best we researched, offering clear and crisp audio quality during calls. This is super helpful if you use these headphones for your daily commute or for traveling. But, you’ll want the top earbuds with a mic if you don’t want to use headphones that have a cable.

On top of the microphone, the overall design of the Belkin Rockstar headphones is something to be applauded. Featuring a flat cable design instead of a traditional cylindrical design, these headphones are officially tangle-free, which is so helpful if you’re using them on the go. This is a perk of using wireless headphones. We also found them to be comfortable during shorter periods of use, but experienced some discomfort during extended jam sessions. The Belkin Rockstar lightning headphones are perfect for anyone who needs a top-of-the-line microphone to take their calls while on the go but doesn’t want to sacrifice audio quality to do so. Read about the best noise-cancelling headphones to learn more.

 #5  Pioneer Rayz Plus Lightning Headphones

Award: Best Value/Best Active Noise Cancelling

WHY WE LIKE IT: Pioneer is a staple in the high-end audio world and the company’s dedication to stellar audio products is apparent in the Pioneer Rayz Plus lightning headphones. With excellent audio quality and active noise cancellation, these headphones are the best for audiophiles and music lovers.

  • Excellent active noise cancelling
  • Unique Smart Mute functionality
  • Superb audio quality
  • Build quality feels a little cheap
  • Microphone isn’t the best
  • Difficult to find the right in-ear fit

Yes, the Pioneer Rayz Plus are the most expensive headphones with a lightning connector on our list, but the audio quality and extra features match the price. If you’re looking for a high-quality sound, this may be your pick. For starters, the active noise cancellation functionality on these headphones is top of the line, almost matching the performance of premium over-the-ear headphones like the Bose QuietComfort. For a great comparison of Bose headphones’ capabilities, check out our Bose QuietComfort 35 vs AirPods Pro article. This excellent ANC feature combines nicely with the amazing audio quality of these headphones. We were especially pleased with the rich bass that the Rayz Plus offers, which could make them the best earbuds for bassheads.

There are also a few additional features that add to the premium nature of these headphones. One of the best of these features is the unique Smart Mute feature on the microphone. This Smart Mute automatically detects whether you’re speaking or not and unmutes or mutes accordingly. Unfortunately, the build quality on these headphones isn’t the best and they feel a little too plastic for our liking. However, this doesn’t detract too much from our overall assessment and liking. If you want premium sound and premium features in your lighting headphones, you can’t go wrong with the Pioneer Rayz Plus. If you prefer earbuds, read about the best waterproof earbud.

How We Decided

As we started researching the best lighting headphones available, we narrowed down our choices based on a variety of different factors. To start, we obviously only considered headphones that solely feature a lightning connector and not any that use adapters to connect to a lightning port. With this list, you won’t need to purchase the best 3mm headphone ever again. For other great connection options, check out some great USB-C headphones.

We also considered things like the overall build quality and premium design features. While we didn’t necessarily look for headphones that offer all of the bells and whistles, we did take into consideration features like an inline mic and remote control options or tangle-free designs. You should also consider in-ear fit for the earbuds. Some headphones use silicone ear tips while others are just plastic and not all are made for a universal fit. However, we researched to find the headphones that fit the most ear shapes.

Finally, we measured audio quality. While we understand this can sometimes be a subjective factor, it’s nevertheless one of great importance when it comes to headphones. We researched the audio quality of each pair of headphones by listening to all different kinds of music genres and measuring the quality of highs, mids, and bass. We specifically avoided headphones that had tinny audio quality or lacked definition.

Lightning Cable Headphones Buying Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

Audio Quality

As we discussed above, audio quality is one of the most important features to consider when purchasing a new pair of lightning headphones. The way the headphones relay the music to your ears follows one of the three most common patterns: bass-heavy, flat, and balanced (neutral) or lively and dynamic, focusing more on bass and treble together. The pattern that you enjoy most is completely subjective to your own tastes, but the best lightning headphones will always provide rich bass, crisp highs, and clear mids.

Tangle-free Cable and Durable Design

If there’s one universal truth about headphones, it’s the fact that they’ll end up in your pocket eventually. And if they do, it’s likely that they’ll get tangled up at some point. Tangle-free headphones feature flat cables instead of round cables, and they make your life so much easier.

And while we’re on the subject of design quality, it’s important that you choose headphones that are built well and that are going to last you a long while. Lightning headphones get a lot of use, and you don’t want them worn out after one use.

Microphone and Remote Quality

Most headphones with lightning connectors have both an inline microphone and inline remote control so you can take calls and control music without ever needing to pull your phone out of your pocket. However, as with all other headphone features, the different mics and remotes you get on different pairs of headphones can vary greatly in quality.

The best lightning headphones will feature a clear and crisp microphone that enables the person on the other end to hear you loud and clear. The inline controls are also important, and should be sturdy enough to handle lots of button clicks and handling.

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