The best headphones for iPhone

Just as you don’t just make phone calls with a smartphone, you don’t just listen with connected headphones. You are the ruler of your sound environment. atechbook has fought its way through the headphone jungle and found the ones that set the tone.

When you think of headphones for the iPhone, you certainly think of the AirPods first. But there are also headphones from other manufacturers that are very well suited for Apple smartphones. So which ones are recommended if you don’t want AirPods? atechbook presents them, the best headphones for the iPhone.

What do headphones for the Apple iPhone have to be able to do?

The two most important questions at the beginning: Should the headphones for the iPhone be with or without cable? And what shape should they have? People who listen to music with their iPhone do so on the go. Therefore, despite the persistent rumor that Bluetooth headphones are inferior to wired ones in terms of sound – which has not yet been proven – wireless devices are recommended. The range is divided into two groups: in-ear headphones and headphones with a headband, the latter being divided into over-ear headphones and on-ear headphones.

The advantages and disadvantages are obvious: The former are small, discreet, practical and suitable for sports, but awkward to put in the ear and sometimes unsatisfactory in terms of wearing comfort. The latter are large, conspicuous, heavier and bulkier, but have a good wearing comfort, a long battery life and a top sound quality. Besides the sound and manageability, the most important feature is the active noise reduction, which simply filters out external noise.

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The test winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

The test winner of Stiftung Warentest in the in-ear headphones category scores in the supreme discipline of sound with an unbeatable top score of 1.6. Dynamic 2-way speakers provide richer bass, excellent sound definition and more balance. Intelligent Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) also allows you to seamlessly switch between noise-cancelling headphones and fully customizable ambient noise. So you can decide situationally which feature type is best at that moment. The Galaxy Buds Pro’s battery offers up to 18 hours of playtime, specifically, you can use the headphones for 5 hours without interruption and another 13 hours when using their charging case. The Galaxy Buds Pro wireless headphones are equipped with three microphones to ensure that all callers can be heard crystal clear. Two external microphones block outside noise, leaving the other microphone to pick up only the wearer’s voice.

Those who pair the Samsung headphones with their iPhone will benefit from an excellent sound experience. Samsung even offers its own app for its competitor’s smartphones. It gives users more control over sound functions and info about the battery.

Features of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Product type

Noise-cancelling headphones, true-wireless headphones

Closed

Sitting in ear

Function

Wireless

Control via app, wireless charging with charging carrying case

Features: microphone, sweat-proof, touch control panel

Music functions: next track, pause, play, volume, previous track

Call functions: End call, answer call, reject call

Buttons: position on headphones

Bluetooth features

Bluetooth 5.0

Bluetooth profiles: A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile), AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile), HSP (Headset Profile), HFP (Hands Free Profile).

Range: 10m

Battery

Operating time: 5 h

Quick charge function: 5 minutes for 1 hour runtime

Microphone

In the headphones

Advantages and disadvantages of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Rating at Stiftung Warentest: 1.9

Pro

  • + Very good sound

  • + Very good active noise reduction

  • + Relatively long battery life

Cons

  • – May cause allergic reaction (itching)

  • – For many functions, the app “Samsung Galaxy Buds” is required

More than just number 2: Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony WF-1000XM4 headphones feature industry-leading noise-cancelling thanks to an integrated V1 HD processor, a powerful new driver unit, and noise-minimizing earbuds with a more stable grip. Ranked second in its category by Stiftung Warentest, the wireless in-ear headphones for iPhone score remarkably high on sound quality (score of 1.9), which only stops when the Speak-to-Chat feature automatically pauses the music as soon as the wearer starts talking – headphones with brains, in other words. The straightforward speakerphone function allows for undisturbed conversation, with the Sony WF-1000XM4 providing clearer voice transmission. Thus, you can still clearly understand the conversation partner even in loud environments. Staying power is shown by the Sony WF-1000XM4’s built-in lithium-ion battery, which provides up to 24 hours of music enjoyment (with noise cancelling) on a single charge. What a show-off!

Features of the Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony WF-1000XM4

Product Type

Noise-cancelling headphones, in-ear headphones, true-wireless headphones

In-ear

Function

Wireless

Features: Fast charging, auto pairing, control via app, wireless charging with charging carrying case

Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE)

Music functions: next track, pause, play, volume, mute function

Call functions: End call, answer call, call music change, voice dial, mute function

Sound functions: integrated level limiter, High Resolution Audio Wireless

Buttons: Position on headphones

Voice assistants: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa

Bluetooth features

Bluetooth 5.2

Bluetooth profiles: A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile), AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile), HSP (Headset Profile), HFP (Hands Free Profile).

Sound

Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz

Driver: 6 mm

Battery

Operating time: 12 h

Operating time NC: 8 h

Talk time: 6 h

Battery charging time: 1.5 h

Total runtime (including charging case): 24 h

Charging the headphones via charging case: 2 times

Quick charge function: 5 minutes for 1 hour runtime

Cable

Detachable cable

Plug: USB-C

Plug shape: straight

Microphone

Dual, microphone noise cancellation

In headphones

Advantages and disadvantages of the Sony WF-1000XM4

Rating at Stiftung Warentest: 1.9

Pros

  • + Very good sound

  • + Speak-to-chat function

  • + Relatively long battery life

Con

  • – Foam ear tips deficient

  • – Sealing problems

The Adaptable: Jabra Elite 85t

The top segment of in-ear headphones is fiercely competitive, and the quality differences between the individual products are often minimal. The Jabra Elite 85t have made it to the third podium of the Stiftung-Warentest. Thanks to Jabra Advanced Active Noise Cancellation – an adjustable ANC slider in combination with six built-in microphones – full sound control and crystal-clear phone calls no longer sound like dreams of the future. With their 12mm speaker, the headphones for iPhone deliver clear sound with powerful bass for a “in the middle of it all” music experience, and the Earbuds can be controlled with Amazon Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant. The Jabra Elite 85t’s compact size, with three sizes of oval EarGels and pressure relief ports for maximum comfort, will also win over even the biggest in-ear fit skeptic.

Features of the Jabra Elite 85t

Jabra Elite 85t

Product type

Noise-cancelling headphones, Bluetooth headphones, true wireless headphones

Closed, dynamic

Sitting in the ear

Function

Transmission type: wireless

Wireless charging with charging transport box, control via app, auto power off, MultiPoint, auto play/pause, quick charge function.

Features: Microphone

Manufacturer feature: Active Noise Cancelling

Sound function: Transparency mode

Bluetooth features

Bluetooth 5.1

Bluetooth profiles: A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile), AVCTP, SPP, HFP (Hands Free Profile), HSP (Headset Profile)

Sound

Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz

Driver: 12 mm

Battery

Operating time: 7 h

Operating time: NC 5 h

Battery charging time: 3 h

Total runtime (including charging case): 31 h

Charging the headphones via charging case: 3 times

Quick charge function: 15 minutes for 1 hour runtime

Microphone

In the headphones

Advantages and disadvantages of the Jabra Elite 85t

Rating at Stiftung Warentest: 2.0

Pros

  • + Good sound

  • + Clear phone calls

Cons

  • – Dropouts during signal transmission on the left headphone

The on-ear all-rounder: JBL Live 460NC

If you are uncomfortable with your ears being completely enclosed by a headphone cup, and still prefer a pair of headphones with a headband to the in-ear version, it is best to opt for on-ear headphones. The JBL Live 460NC score best in this category in Stiftung Warentest. The sound is rated with a solid score of 2, and you can also rely on this model in other respects.

The wireless Live 460NC Bluetooth headphones block out noise thanks to adaptive noise-canceling and prove to be all-rounders at the touch of a button, with Ambient Aware and TalkThru technology making it possible to listen to music, talk to friends and be aware of your surroundings at the same time. Thus, one is always prepared for all eventualities. The voice assistant can be activated either by voice, by tapping the ear cup, or with the JBL app. The JBL Live 460NC are the most enduring of the on-ear headphones for iPhone, offering up to 50 hours of music enjoyment without ANC and 40 hours with ANC, or 4 hours of battery life after just a 10-minute charge.

Features of the JBL Live 460NC

JBL Live 460NC

Product Type

Noise-canceling headphones, Bluetooth headphones

Dynamic, closed

Earthed

Function

Transfer modes: optional wired, wireless

MultiPoint, automatic play/pause

Microphone

Manufacturer feature: Active Noise Cancelling

Music functions: Play, Pause

Call functions: End call, answer call, voice assistant activation

Buttons on the headphones

Bluetooth features

Bluetooth 5.0

Bluetooth profiles: HFP (Hands Free Profile), A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile), AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile)

Sound

Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz

Impedance: 32 Ohm

Sensitivity: 96 dB/mW

Driver: 40 mm

Battery

Operating time: 50 h

Operating time: NC 40 h

Battery charging time: 2 h

Battery capacity: 750 mAh

Battery type: Lithium-ion

Cable

Detachable cable

Plug: 3,5 mm

Plug shape: straight

Advantages and disadvantages of the JBL Live 460NC

Rating by Stiftung Warentest: 2.0

Pros

  • + Good sound

  • + Adaptive noise-cancelling

  • + Particularly long battery life

  • + Very good price-performance ratio

Con

  • – Noise cancellation susceptible to interference

If it should be the original: Apple AirPods Max

Not only do they look good – of course, they’re an original Apple product – but they’re also the winner of Stiftung Warentest’s headset test: Apple’s AirPods Max combine elegance and top technology. Thanks to a special dynamic driver from Apple, they deliver Hi-Fi audio and thus literally set the tone, which absolutely justifies the rating of 1.5 for sound. The Apple AirPods Max have a lot to brag about in other ways as well: Active noise cancellation blocks out outside noise so you can fully immerse yourself in your music. 3D audio with dynamic head tracking also provides a surround sound like in the cinema. Transparency mode allows you to hear and react to your surroundings.

Apple AirPods Max features

Apple AirPods Max

Product Type

Wired headphones, noise-canceling headphones, Bluetooth headphones

Dynamic, Closed

Around the ear

Function

Wireless

Auto play/pause, auto power off, fast charging function

Microphone, touch control panel, foldable, accelerometer sensor

Music functions: Volume, next track, pause, play, previous track

Call functions: end call, answer call

Sound functions: personalized sound profiles, 3D audio with head tracking

Buttons on headphones

Voice assistant: Apple Siri

Bluetooth features

Bluetooth 5.0

Range: 10 m

Sound

Driver: 40 mm

Battery

Operating time: NC 20 h

Talk time: 20 h

Quick charge: 5 minutes for 1.5 hours runtime

Cable

Lightning connector

Microphone

9 microphones in the headphones

Advantages and disadvantages of the Apple AirPods Max

Rating at Stiftung Warentest: 1.9

Pros

  • + Very good sound

  • + Surround sound

  • + Transparency mode

Contra

  • – Relatively high price

  • – Sweaty

Conclusion

First, you should always decide whether you prefer in-ear or boom headphones. In both cases, the front-runners are clearly identifiable: the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro or the Apple AirPods Max. If you also consider financial aspects, you can get high-quality headphones for the iPhone at low prices.

More articles worth knowing about headphones for the Apple iPhone

  • The best Bluetooth headphones for athletes

  • The best headphones for children

  • Can I replace AirPods individually if I lose one?

  • Why Android users are better off not using AirPods

  • The reason why Apple AirPods are white

Still not enough about the topic of headphones? The editorial team at atechbook has compiled a number of other exciting and helpful articles that deal with the ear candy.