Best iPhone headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best iPhone headphones you can buy in 2020.
The iPhone is one of the finest phones around. With thousands of apps, a user-friendly design and an amazing camera, no wonder it's the handset of choice for millions of people around the world. The biggest draw for us, though, is the brilliant sound quality.
It's just a shame about those EarPods. Apple's wired earbuds don't come close to doing the iPhone's sound quality justice, while the AirPods are better but still good rather than great. To truly unleash its potential, you need the best headphones your budget will allow.
That's where we come in. We've selected only the best iPhone headphones from our recent reviews that are compatible with Apple's handset so you can get the very best audio from your iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max or any iPhone for that matter. (And that should include the iPhone 12, assuming Apple doesn't change the connections, which looks unlikely.) All styles are catered for, as are all budgets.
Remember: newer iPhones don't have a 3.5mm headphone jack, so some pairs on this list will require a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter, although the majority are wireless designs. Check you've got access to one before you buy.
So which will you choose? Wireless or wired? Noise-cancelling or noise-isolating? In-ear, on-ear or over-ear? Have a look and see which jump out at you.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones have pretty much everything you need to be the perfect partners for your iPhone. They're lightweight, comfortable and boast a stable Bluetooth connection and in our opinion, some of the best noise-cancelling on the market. Oh, and they sound sensational too.
They replace the WH-1000XM3s (below), which were previously the best iPhone headphones we could recommend, but the XM4s raise the bar across the board. In terms of detail, clarity, precision and timing, they're extremely tough to beat.
The Sonys also provide you with a number of useful new features such as Speak to Chat which allows you to talk to people without removing or touching the headphones. Very clever A premium pair of iPhone headphones, but we think they're worth it.
Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM4
The bad news? These have a plastic headband, which feels less premium than their predecessors' metal one. But the upside is they're lighter, and hence more comfortable to wear for extended periods. Which you will do once you've had a listen - they sound superb, very open and spacious, giving every element of the track room to breathe. But there's also plenty of detail, and a subtlety to the dynamics that few headphones can match. Oh, and they're also some of the best noise-cancellers around. A great option for anyone able to spend a bit more.
Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM3
For true wireless headphones, the Melomania 1s sound phenomenal - they handle dynamic shifts within a track with barely a shrug, while the vocal detail on offer is second to none. But it's the battery life that's the real headline-grabber - they last a whopping 45 hours, thanks to the carry case which doubles as a portable charger. Noise-cancellation comes as standard, as does Siri/Google Assistant compatibility. They're sweat- and water-resistant, too. And all without a cable in sight. Madness.
Read the full review: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
Unlike the SoundSport Wireless, these Sonys are truly wireless - there's not a cable in sight, just two earbuds you pop in your lug holes. Of all the true wireless models around - they're quite in vogue right now - these are the best. A new Bluetooth chip sharpens up music synchronization, while the noise-cancellation is second to none. And the sound? Truly fantastic - this is a clear, expressive, detailed performance that will delight any listener, even those skeptical of true wireless models. The future has arrived.
Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3
Klipsch knows how to make a decent pair of affordable in-ear headphones. In 2018 it was the Award-winning R6i IIs (mentioned below) that delivered the sonic goods, Klipsch's latest release, the T5M Wired are even better. Not only are they extremely comfortable (which helps), they're also extremely musical and fun to listen to.
The Klipschs sound detailed and dynamic with an even balance and accurate sense of timing. The only slight negatives are the amount of cable noise generated if you don't use the supplied clothing clip and you can't change volume via the one-button control/mic.
Read the full review: Klipsch T5M Wired
If your budget allows, this premium pair of wireless earbuds are perfect for the iPhone. The design is excellent: those slim earpieces don't protrude too much, and, more importantly, they're comfortable enough for long listening sessions.
The noise-cancelling works extremely well and gives the Sony WF-1000XM3 a run for their money. The Sennheisers are nice to use too, with touch-sensitive pads on each earpiece which control music playback and other features.
Battery life is competitive too, with a single charge giving seven hours of playback and the charging case providing an additional three charges.
So design and features are excellent and so too is sound quality, which is extremely refined and sophisticated. Highs and lows are composed and controlled but dynamics aren't sacrificed. The Sennheisers present a detailed soundstage with impressive scale and authority. They're a little pricier than other iPhone headphones, but if your budget can stretch, you won't be disappointed.
Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
The AirPods Pros are a fine alternative to the standard AirPods you'll find further down this list. They're pricier, but you do get better sound quality, an improved level of comfort and excellent noise-cancelling.
Each bud has a force sensor on the stem – squeeze it to activate Siri, answer calls, skip a track, etc. The only disappointment is that Siri is the only method for adjusting volume without reaching into your pocket for your phone.
Battery life is a claimed five hours for the earphones with another 19 hours from the charging case. In a hurry? A five minute charge will give you another hour of listening.
The AirPods Pro earbuds are sweat- and water-resistant but they don't sound as good as the Sony WF-1000XM3s. But if you're an iPhone user, you're going to want to give these superb wireless earbuds an audition. They're a joy to use.
Read the full review: Apple AirPods Pro
The inclusion of Apple's W1 chip gives these wireless Beats buds a super seamless connection to your iPhone and you get a good fit and similarly good noise isolation (noise-cancellation isn't part of the package). Battery life is 12 hours, while a quick five-minute charge will get you one hour of use.
The bassy sound can be a bit overpowering, but this makes them a good option if you're using them in noisy environments. They're also a fun listen, which makes them a good match for the entertaining audio of an iPhone.
Read our full review: Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless
A five-time What Hi-Fi Award-winner, the Y50s are some of the best on-ears of the last decade. They're mighty colourful too, coming in rather fetching red, yellow and teal finishes (as well as the rather more conservative black). They're exceptionally well made (not something that can be said of all headphones aimed at younger users) and they fold flat for easy storage. And the sound doesn't let them down - they're rhythmic, with excellent timing and punchy expression. The only downside? They're a touch quiet, so you might have to crank the volume to get the most from them. You'll also need a Lightning to 3.5mm dongle on hand.
Read the full review: AKG Y50
These in-ears picked up an Award in 2018 for their combination of excellent sound and affordable price. They're comfy, fitting snugly enough to stay put without ever causing discomfort, and the build quality is excellent. Pop them in your ears, and you're greeted with an enthusiastic and dynamic sound with an amazing sense of timing and organisation. It's all balanced very well, but the bass stands out as a particular highlight. The best in-ears for your iPhone currently available at this price.
Read the full review: Klipsch R6i II
Weighing just 6g, these Byrds are light enough to take flight. But the sound is anything but lightweight. It's very well balanced, giving equal billing to the bass, midrange and treble, lending proceedings a well-rounded, weighty feel. Which is particularly impressive given the price. They're comfortable too, thanks to the five pairs of bundled ear tips, and they come in a robust, slimline carry case complete with elasticated strap. Another excellent budget option to partner with your iPhone (and 3.5mm dongle).
Read the full review: Beyerdynamic Soul Byrd
These improve on the original AirPods in every way - they're louder (very welcome seeing as they don't fill the ear cavity and so let outside noise leak in), with a cleaner sound that's blissfully free of artificial manipulation. The audio is more subtle and sophisticated than their predecessors too, not to mention more detailed. They're beautifully small and light, with impressive battery life and effortless usability. They're far from the finest headphones around, but they sound pretty decent, and none play more easily with the iPhone than this Apple-made pair.
Read the full review: Apple AirPods (2020)
These might have 'wireless' in the name, but they're not a true wireless pair - there's a cable connecting the two earbuds. But that sits around the back of your neck out of the way, so there's nothing tethering you to your music source. It's a winning design - secure enough for running or a session in the gym, while keeping your hands free. They're sweat-resistant too, while the sound is punchy enough to spur you on to go that extra mile.
Read the full review: Bose SoundSport Wireless
Apple's EarPods and AirPods don't offer an amazing fit, which can make them less than ideal for the gym or running. The Jaybird Vista earbuds, on the other hand, offer good sound and an even better fit. They're true wireless earbuds with IPX7 water- and sweat-proofing, robust enough to withstand daily training sessions and the great outdoors.
Power up the clever Jaybird app and besides pairing you can also tweak their sound for your ears and reassign the controls on each earbud. There's USB-C charging - a five minute 'super-charge' is enough for one hour, while a full charge gives you six. You get 10 extra hours from the charging case too. And it's all topped off with a hefty and upbeat sound.
Read the full review: Jaybird Vista
Fancy a pair of quality wireless earbuds and don’t mind a neckband design? You should definitely consider the Bowers & Wilkins PI3s.
Design and finish are superb (as reflected in the price tag). If the earpieces are a little chunky, that's because they house B&W's Dual Driver technology, with one driver is used for highs and mids, and another for bass. The result is a clean-sounding presentation with a combination of crisp, distinct highs and a solid, punchy bass bringing up the rear.
Bluetooth aptX Adaptive is supported, which should ensure higher quality audio from smartphones and tablets, and removes the potential for any lip-sync issues when it comes to watching video content. And their eight-hour battery life is good for this class (a 15-minute quick charge gets you two hours of playtime, too). performers that serve to expand B&W’s headphone offering for the better. Quality and composed-sounding all-rounders.
Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins PI3
These are some of the most affordable iPhone headphones money can buy. But just because they're cheap doesn't mean you'll be selling your iPhone short - the sound is bursting with energy, remaining well-balanced and very entertaining. There's depth and warmth, and the treble never veers to the wrong side of bright. If it's a no-nonsense, full-bodied sound you're after on a budget, look no further. Don't forget, you will need that 3.5mm dongle, though.
Read the full review: SoundMagic E11C
These are a little more grown-up (and expensive) than the Y50s mentioned further up this list - gone is the massive AKG branding on the earcups, and in comes a more subtle colour palette. They lack the energy of their cheaper counterparts, but in exchange you get a more refined listen - there's lots of detail on offer, and tracks remain composed and clear. Timing is handled confidently, and the overall presentation is a lot more polished. Build-wise, they're satisfyingly sturdy, while remaining lightweight enough to wear for hours. Hugely enjoyable.
Read the full review: AKG Y500 Wireless
Sadly, these headphones don't fold down completely (the earcups merely fold flat), so they're not as portable as some. But that's about the only fault we could find with them. They're B&W's first wireless pair with noise-cancellation, though from their superb build quality and performance, you'd never know it. The noise-cancellation does a fine job of muting the outside world, while there are some neat features that are well thought through - lift one earcup and the music pauses, for example, or put them back on after a short break and the track picks up where you left off. The sound quality is excellent, too, full of purpose, with a level of refinement not often seen in wireless pairs. A premium upgrade for your premium iPhone.
Read the full review: B&W PX
JBL is a heavy hitter when it comes to wireless sports earbuds and the JBL Reflect Flow is a value-packed option to partner your iPhone.
The Reflect Flows are just the ticket, especially if you desire a bass-heavy sound for the gym but don't fancy. pair of over-ear headphones. You get 10 hours of battery life plus an extra 20 hours from the case, and JBL promises a quick 10-minute charge will provide an hour's playback.
With the right tip and fin combination, they produce a stable fit, while that excellent sense of timing and extra helping of articulate bass will encourage you to set a new personal best.
Read the full review: JBL Reflect Flow