iPhones are among the most popular smartphones on the planet – and now that Apple has dispensed with the wired EarPods you used to get in the box with your new phone, there’s no better time to find the best iPhone headphones to make your music, podcasts, and audiobooks really sing.
Newer iPhones don’t come with a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is why the headphones in this guide are all wireless – though, if you wish, you can use a pair of wired headphones with your iPhone, using a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter. Check out our guides to the best over-ear headphones and the best earbuds for a selection of the top wired models we’ve tested.
You may be wondering whether you should buy a pair of AirPods to use with your iPhone – and while you’ll find the AirPods Pro and the over-ear AirPods Max in this guide, there are plenty of non-Apple headphones that work brilliantly with iPhones.
That’s why you’ll find a range of headphones to suit your iPhone here, from the best-sounding true wireless earbuds to noise-cancelling headphones that will help you block out the world. Many of the headphones in this list also support hi-res audio, so if you have an Apple Music subscription, you'll be able to take advantage of its new Lossless Audio feature.
We’ve also included headphones to suit a range of budgets – and don’t forget, Amazon Prime Day is just around the corner, and that means many of the earbuds and headphones in this guide will be discounted in the near future, so you may want to hold off on making a purchase until then.
Another reason for waiting is because Apple is expected to release new AirPods this year; it’s rumored that we’ll see the Apple AirPods 3 in 2021, and possibly the AirPods Pro 2, as well. That's not to mention the rumored next wireless earbuds from Apple-owned brand Beats, the so-called Beats Studio Buds.
Still, if you don’t want to wait, below are our top picks for the best iPhone headphones you can buy today.
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The best iPhone headphones 2021
The Sony WH-1000XM4 are the best wireless headphones you can buy, thanks to their excellent noise-cancellation, supreme sound quality, and lightweight wireless design.
Their excellent wireless connectivity makes them ideal for using with your iPhone, and you won't find a better audio performance at this price.
While they don't look significantly different from their predecessors, the Sony WH-1000XM3, a number of new features including multipoint pairing, DSEE Extreme upscaling, conversational awareness and auto-play/pause using a built-in sensor all help the WH-1000XM4 claim the title of best headphones overall in 2021.
On top of the adjustments listed above, the Sony WH-1000XM4 support Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format that enables spatial audio on stereo headphones plus the LDAC codec that can send a bitrate of up to 990 kbps. The unfortunate bit there, though, is that it no longer supports aptX or aptX HD, so your Hi-Res Audio support mileage may vary.
Read more: Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones review
Apple's noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds, the AirPods Pro, deliver a much better fit and an improved design compared to the original AirPods – and they're the best true wireless earbuds to use with your iPhone if you're looking for seamless connectivity.
However, at $249 / £249 / AU$399, they’re pretty pricey, and as such can’t be called the very best true wireless earbuds in terms of value for money – but they may be the best true wireless earbuds for Apple fans.
These snug-fitting earbuds offer a great sound, and the additional microphones provide strong noise-cancelling (particularly when commuting), as well as a useful Transparency mode, which really does let the outside world in.
Unfortunately, the AirPods Pro don't support hi-res audio, so if you want to use Apple Music's new Lossless Audio feature, you'll be disappointed. However, they do support spatial audio, which is great if you watch films and shows with Apple TV Plus.
Read more: Apple AirPods Pro review
The release of the Apple AirPods Max represented the highest-profile headphones launch for some time, having been the subject of rumor and speculation for two years, and come with active noise cancellation, superb audio quality, and a design that sets them apart from most noise-cancelling headphones on the market.
While their exceptional audio performance and class-leading ANC impresses, they're let down by their eye-watering price, baffling carrying case, and lack of support for hi-res audio codecs.
Despite their high price, the AirPods Max aren’t exactly aimed at the audiophile crowd, owing to their lack of 3.5mm audio port; instead, these cans are squarely targeted at card-carrying members of the Apple ecosystem, with nifty features for iOS users and an unmistakably ‘Apple’ design.
But, if you've already bought into the Apple ecosystem with an iPhone, you have a lot of money to burn, and you don't care about hi-res audio, you won't find headphones that sound better or are easier to use than the AirPods Max.
Read more: Apple AirPods Max review
The Sony WF-1000XM3 are the best true wireless earbuds you can buy in 2021, hands down – and they also deserve a place among the best iPhone headphones.
That's because the Sony WF-1000XM3 manage to offer a level of noise-cancellation that's exceedingly good for a pair of earbuds – they won't offer the same isolation as a pair of over-ear headphones, but its a worthy trade off for that sleeker form.
Sony has really knocked the ball out of the park with the WF-1000XM3, with fist-pumping musicality and a sleek design.
Battery life is above average, and that compact charging case is pretty slick too. Constantly improving, a recent update has brought volume control to the buds themselves, as well as support for Amazon Alexa.
Read more: Sony WF-1000XM3 review
Cambridge Audio is known for its high-end audio equipment, but until last year, hadn’t ventured into the world of true wireless earbuds. Enter the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1: with an outstanding 45 hours of battery life, they combine the brand’s award-winning engineering with the convenience of true wireless listening.
For a pair of true wireless earbuds, the sound quality offered by the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s is sensational. In fact, it rivals that of some of the best over-ear headphones.
They may not have the noise cancellation technology offered by the Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Earbuds, but they are $100 / £100 cheaper – and they have a superior battery life.
They certainly outperform the Apple AirPods (2019), in all respects apart from the lack of wireless charging case. This is a small price to pay for that exceptional audio quality, though, and we think they represent much better value for money for iPhone users.
Read more: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 review
The NuraLoop headphones boil down the essence of the company's first product, the Nuraphone, into a much more compact, rugged, and affordable package, and doesn't lose much in the process.
These wireless neckbuds come with the company's adaptive audio technology, which automatically determines a listening profile for the user and feeds them well-balanced, lush sound as a result.
On top of this, features like active noise-cancelling, social mode, an IPX3 rating, Immersion mode, a great battery life, and the ability to attach an analog cable for 3.5mm headphone jacks means these earbuds are great for iPhone users and beyond.
Read more: NuraLoop headphones review
JBL is a popular name in the world of wireless headphones and Bluetooth speakers, and rightly so. Solidly dependable, consumers know what to expect from the brand – decent sound quality for a decent price.
The JBL Tune 750BTNC sound great, look great, and they fit well. Reliable and easy to use, you might miss waterproofing and a few minor features – but at this price, it feels foolish to complain too readily, especially if you've already shelled out on an expensive iPhone.
Read more: JBL Tune 750BTNC review
The Bowers & Wilkins PI3 are the first neckband wireless earbuds for the company, and they're a great start. Well-designed, comfy, and simple to use, they sound really good, too.
Thanks to dual drivers, these buds sound fantastic, with crisp highs, lively mids, and plenty of powerful bass. Look past the fairly unremarkable battery life and limited features, and you'll be mostly very impressed by what these offer.
The PowerBeats Pro true wireless Beats headphones are something special – they’re supremely comfortable, sound decent and seem to never, ever fall out.
They might not be the best true wireless earbuds in Apple's audio arsenal now that the AirPods Pro are here, but they are Apple’s most premium play into the world of running headphones, and they're the buds we'd recommend to most workout enthusiasts.
That's thanks to features like the pressure-reducing micro-laser barometric venting hole, their long battery life and good sound quality. If we had to choose between wearing these and the original AirPods to use with our iPhone, these are what we'd choose.
Read more: Beats PowerBeats Pro review
On their own merits, the Earfun Air Pro buds are accomplished, but against the competition at this price point they shine. Amid a sea of similarly priced efforts on Amazon, they stand out thanks to their superior design and excellent audio chops, and show a high level of competence in almost all other areas. If it weren’t for slightly fiddly gesture controls and – in our experience at least – a slightly uncomfortable fit, these would immediately earn our wholehearted recommendation.
As it stands, these wireless earbuds are an excellent choice for iPhone users on a budget, offering a blend of useful features and strong performance that should make them popular with commuters in particular.
Read more: Earfun Air Pro review
Apple headphones news
If you're looking for the best iPhone headphones, you may be wondering whether Apple is set to launch any new headphones in 2021.
Well, we're hoping to see the next-gen AirPods 3 this year, and possibly the AirPods Pro 2, as well.
According to 9to5Mac, the prolific Apple analyst believes that Apple "will continue to sell second-generation AirPods through this year’s holiday season", replacing the popular true wireless earbuds with the AirPods 3 "in the first half of 2021". That release date has recently been backed up by a Bloomberg report, which cites "people familiar with the plans".
The new 'Pods will apparently take their design cues from the AirPods Pro, which ditched the rigid plastic tips and super long ear stems of the 2019 Apple AirPods, in favor of silicone eartips and a sleeker look. Whether that means they'll come with noise cancellation as well remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, the AirPods Pro 2 could be an entry-level version of the noise-cancelling AirPods Pro, which suggest the rumored wireless earbuds might be cheaper than the most expensive Apple earbuds currently on the market.
Rumors have been circling since mid-February, after a report from DigiTimes claimed that the new true wireless earbuds will launch in the first half of 2020. Of course, they never materialized, and everything's pointing to a 2021 release at the earliest.
More recently, we've heard rumors of the Beats Studio Buds, which could be the next wireless earbuds from the Apple-owned brand – and they might launch soon, with a substantial leak giving us our first look at the new earbuds.
We weren’t expecting to see a new pair of Beats headphones – but information on the Studio Buds was discovered in Apple’s latest beta software for tvOS and iOS, revealing that the new earbuds will likely come with active noise cancellation.
Since then, the Studio Buds have seemingly been spotted in the flesh after basketball star LeBron James stepped out wearing a pair of earbuds that look suspiciously similar to the leaked images we've seen so far.
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