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The best iPhone dongles for headphones and other gear
All manufacturers are dumping headset jacks, making life a bit more complicated for those who haven’t migrated to wireless headphones. iPhone users have it a bit harder, as Apple still hasn’t adopted the industry standard — USB-C. There are rumors of Apple moving from Lightning to USB-C, but until then (and if it happens), iPhone users need special dongles to use external hard drives, HDMI cables, and other accessories. Unless you want to go completely wireless, you’ll need to find some of the best iPhone dongles out there, and we’re here to help.
What to look for in a good iPhone dongle
Finding the right iPhone dongle is a bit harder than one would think. While they may look identical, not all iPhone dongles are made equally. This is why some dongles won’t work, and you might even get an error message on your iPhone when you plug in an unsupported one. It might read “The accessory isn’t supported by your device,” or “Your accessory is defective, damaged, or not Apple-certified.”
You’ll want to get an MFi-certified dongle. MFi is Apple’s certification program, and the acronym stands for “Made for iPhone.” This means that any accessory with this certification has been tested and approved by Apple to work perfectly with its devices. These accessories work without extra software and offer a plug-and-play experience. This is why we will only recommend MFi-certified accessories in this post.
Additionally, even compatible dongles can be different. You’ll have to keep an eye out for standards, as these can make or break your experience. A lower-quality dongle can affect quality, data speeds, and more.
Lightning to 3.5mm headset jack dongles
For example, some audio dongles support higher quality audio than others. You want a dongle that supports at least 24-bit and at least 48KHz audio.
One downside about these headphone jack dongles is that some also come with no phone call functionality or music control support. Keep an eye out for these specs if you care for them.
Lightning to HDMI or VGA dongles
Other common dongles include HDMI ports, in which case you’ll want them to support 1080p, which is the common resolution for Lightning-to-HDMI dongles. 4K is only available once you move to the USB-C Apple dongles, and there is still no USB-C iPhone.
Those who don’t need audio can also opt for a VGA dongle, an older technology usually found more often in monitors. It may save you some bucks!
Lightning to USB-A dongles
If you’re getting a Lightning-to-USB-A dongle, you’ll also want it to be fast, so look for at least USB 3.0 supporting dongles.
Lightning to SD card readers
SD card readers also have different types of support for speeds, SD card storage sizes, and other factors.
We all know a wired connection is usually more stable. If you want to tether your iPhone to a router, you can also get an Ethernet dongle. The only standard to keep in check is data transfer speeds. Most good Lightning-to-Ethernet dongles can handle 100Mbps. You may also want to consider getting a dongle that supports PoW (Power over Ethernet). These dongles can help you charge your device using the energy transferred through Ethernet cables (you need a compatible cable too).
Other things to look for
Otherwise, you’ll want to look for all the same things you look for whenever you’re buying any accessories. Cable length, ports, and build quality are obvious factors to consider. You’ll also have to consider portability, as this might be an accessory you must carry around everywhere.
If you’re using a significantly older device, you might also want to keep an eye out for supported iOS versions and devices. These will be listed in any product description under the compatibility section.
The best iPhone dongles:
Editor’s note: We will regularly update this list of the best iPhone dongles as new ones launch.
Apple’s original dongles
Apple has a dongle for all the essential ports you could need. These include adapters that can convert Lightning to HDMI, VGA, USB, USB 3.0, SD card, and 3.5mm headphone jack. That said, you will need to pay separately for all these, which are pretty expensive. Additionally, only the HDMI, VGA, and USB 3.0 ones come with a female Lightning port for charging while using.
All that said, these are original Apple products and will always work perfectly with any Lightning device. If it doesn’t, you can always go to any Apple store and ask for help. The design may be nothing to write home about, but these are simple accessories that are as straightforward as they get. If you’re willing to pay the premium for the Apple promise, you can’t go wrong with Apple’s own dongles.
- No compatibility worries
- Apple’s customer service
- Very simple designs
Belkin 3.5mm Audio + Charge Rockstar
Want an upgrade over Apple’s stock 3.5mm headphone dongle? Belkin has a 3.5 mm Audio + Charge Rockstar dongle for you. This adapter offers a headset jack and a Lightning female port for charging your phone while you listen to music. It supports computer syncing and can handle 2.4A charging speeds.
Also read: The best USB hubs
- Supports computer syncing
- Listen and charge simultaneously
- Belkin quality
- 2.4A charging is pretty slow
Cubilux Lightning to Dual 3.5mm Headphone Sharing Splitter
Here’s a little something for some tandem fun. You no longer need to share a single earbud when listening to something with a friend. This dongle turns your Lightning port into two 3.5mm headset jacks. This means you can plug a couple of headsets and listen in with no limitations. Additionally, the right side supports microphone usage and music control.
This is also a pretty well-built little device. The aluminum body and braided cable offer a higher quality feel and more sturdiness.
- Great build quality
- Dual headphone support
- Mic support for one of the ports
- No charging while listening
- Still a bit pricey for a dongle
Krevi Lightning to HDMI Adapter Digital AV
Apple’s HDMI dongle gets the job done, but for $49. That might be a bit too expensive, especially when you can go for the Krevi Lightning to HDMI Adapter Digital AV, which costs under $20. It offers 1080p support, and you can use the Lightning port to charge simultaneously.
- Charging and viewing simultaneously
- You need to be plugged in for HDMI to work
Desoficon Lightning to Ethernet Adapter
Wired Ethernet connections are usually more stable than Wi-Fi. Suppose you’re looking to tether your iPhone to a router for a direct connection without paying Apple prices for your dongle. In that case, you should consider getting the Desoficon Lightning to Ethernet Adapter.
It can provide internet at 100Mbps, which isn’t great by today’s standards, and Wi-Fi can do better (given you have the right internet plan), but it could provide an upgrade if you don’t need over 100Mbps. This unit can also charge your iPhone while in use.
- Can charge your device when in use
- Limited to 100Mbps
- Build quality could be improved
Belcompany Lightning to SD/Micro Card Reader
One of the easiest ways to transfer data to your iPhone is using an SD card, but you’ll need a dongle for that. Here’s a good one. The Belcompany Lightning to SD/Micro Card Reader offers the two most popular types of SD storage; SD and microSD. It also has a charging port to keep your phone juiced up while transferring all those photos and videos. It can transfer speeds at 20-30Mbps, which isn’t blazing fast, but it won’t keep you waiting too long.
- Very affordable
- It supports both SD and microSD cards
- Charging port included
- Limited to 30Mbps
- Build quality could be improved
Covs Lightning to USB Dual Adapter
The Covs Lightning to USB Dual Adapter is great for those who want to transfer data, but would also prefer to accessorize their iPhones. This dongle comes with a couple of USB-A ports, which you can use to connect USB flash drives, keyboards, mice, cameras, microphones, and even other dongles!
- Very affordable
- It works with many accessories and peripherals
- Charging port included
- Questionable build quality
- Slow data transfer speeds (14-16Mbps)
Lightning is quickly becoming old technology. In terms of data transfer, Apple’s Lightning technology can reach data transfers of up to 480Mbps. That is nothing compared to USB-C, which can handle up to 40Gbps.
The exact time for charging an iPhone from zero to 100% varies. We can tell you it’s pretty slow compared to USB-C alternatives, though. Lightning cables top off at 2.4A, which is very low compared to what the 5A USB-C can handle.
Apple’s Lightning cables are significantly more expensive than USB-C ones. Especially if you choose to go with Apple’s own cables. You can find some affordable Lightning cables, but you’ll usually get a better bang for your buck with USB-C.
Nothing is confirmed, but Europe is trying to force USB-C into Apple products. Additionally, rumors of iPhones switching to USB-C have been circling the news.