There has been much ado about Apple’s removal of the headphone jack in its latest version of the iPhone. That means you only have one port on the phone–so how do you charge and listen to music at the same time? We have some options for you.

Most people are concerned with why Apple removed the headphone jack in the first place. Their marketing department would like you to believe it was all about “courage” but there are actually more practical reasons. The iPhone is a very powerful handheld computer, but it’s a computer packed in severely finite space and if Apple is to keep making advancements, something had to go.

The reasons, then are very simple: Apple wanted to make improvements to the camera and battery life, which are two things users often pay attention to beyond others.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the headphone jack means possibly alienating a lot of users, or at least creating inconvenience and unhappiness. Thankfully, there are a lot of solutions to the biggest gripe of all: charging and listening to music at the same time.

Think Dongles and Docks

Truthfully, we’re not huge fans of dongles or docks, but this may be your number one recourse until headphone/charger manufacturers work out something more elegant.

For those who’re planning on clinging to their old analog headphones, Apple will include a special dongle that will let you plug into the iPhone 7’s Lightning port. A replacement or second dongle will set you back $9 if you order it from Apple.

It will not, however, let you actually charge the device while listening to music.

For that, you’re going to need something a little more specialized. Right now, that means this dock with a Lightning passthrough and analog headphone jack for $39. You can also find what appears to be the same dock (in a variety of colors) on Amazon for $10 more.

This Lightning dock is perfectly fine on any bedside nightstand, but it’s probably not something most people want to travel with.

If you’re planning on making the jump to Lightning headphones, however, manufacturers such as Belkin are already stepping in with dual-Lightning adapters. That way, you can plug in both a Lightning charger and a pair of Lightning headphones. Unfortunately, this is going to set you back $40, which is pretty pricey for something most users will already be reluctant to buy.

Belkin’s Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar dongle will meet your music/charging needs, but it’ll cost you.

If you can hold off a bit longer, then we’re sure we’ll be seeing troves of these accessories in a much lower price range hitting the market soon. Still, it’s nice to know you’re not stuck waiting for solutions when you lay hands on your new iPhone.

There’s Always Bluetooth

Apple’s solution to this music/charging problem is simple but pricey. Apple’s new AirPods ($159) are basically fancy, glorified Bluetooth-but-better-than-Bluetooth earbuds with a proprietary wireless chip embedded within them. They feature all sorts of technology like accelerometers and microphones.

Apple’s AirPods look good and are packed with high tech but for $159, you better hope you don’t lose them.

If all you want to do is listen to tunes and charge your iPhone at the same time, then maybe then it’s time to take the plunge and nab yourself a pair of Bluetooth headphones, which are plentiful and can be had for around $20.

No need to break the bank, you can find decent Bluetooth headphones much cheaper than Apple’s AirPods.

Just remember Bluetooth doesn’t offer audio quality as good as wired headphones. But they free you from dongles and docks, which is an appealing prospect.

We think we’ll be seeing quite a few innovations coming down the pipe in the next few months as the iPhone 7’s presence on the market gains momentum. Expect to see battery cases with Lightning and analog headphone jacks, and perhaps wired Lightning headphones with built-in splitters or a simple Lightning passthrough. Hopefully, the right accessories will make that missing headphone jack no big deal.

Profile Photo for Matt Klein Matt Klein
Matt Klein has nearly two decades of technical writing experience. He's covered Windows, Android, macOS, Microsoft Office, and everything in between. He's even written a book, The How-To Geek Guide to Windows 8.
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