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Have a great set of headphones? Don’t buy an iPhone 8

Here’s why an iPhone 8 may not be right for you

Steve Guttenberg/CNET

I own an iPhone 6S, and when the 7 arrived last September I wasn't the least bit tempted to upgrade. Sure, it was skinnier, had a better camera, and was water resistant, but what the 7 didn't have was a deal breaker for me: a 3.5mm headphone jack! My iPhone 6S has one and a Lightning port, so if I bought a 7, what would I do with all of my wired headphones? No one's predicting the iPhone 8 will bring the jack back, we'll see. So I'll probably just upgrade to a 6S Plus, and stay with that for a few years.

Here's a Rose Gold iPhone 6S with a 3.5mm jack and a Lightning port, and a black iPhone 7 with just the Lightning port.


The audiophile/iPhone dilemma

If you are one of the millions of people who invested in a great pair of wired 'phones from AKG, Audeze, Beyerdynamic, Bowers & Wilkins, Etymotic, Grado, Hifiman, Jerry Harvey Audio, Oppo, Sennheiser, Shure, Ultimate Ears, etc. you'd be wasting your money if you bought an iPhone 7 or 8.

Sure the iPhone 7 and presumably the 8 will come with a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter for use with wired headphones, but it's far from an ideal solution for a bunch of reasons. Starting with the adapter doesn't sound as good as the 3.5mm jack on older iPhones, and who wants that little adapter and its wire hanging off their phone? I'm sure people lose the adapters all the time. I've also heard that they break. User reviews of the adapter on the Apple Web site are mostly negative; there are lots of one-star reviews. Apple really dropped the ball on this one.

By ditching the 3.5mm jack Apple is nudging iPhone users to go Bluetooth, which is fine if you want to, but dollar for dollar the best-sounding headphones are all wired 'phones. So if you really care about the sound of your music, the iPhone 7 or 8 is a non-starter.


Here's Apple's Lightning to 3.5mm adapter.


If you're content with "good enough" sound quality from wired headphones with the adapter, or you prefer wireless headphones the iPhone 7 or 8 will be fine, but what if you dropped serious coin on a nice pair of wired headphones? One option is getting Apple's latest and greatest phone, and also buying a portable player like a FiiO X5 2nd Gen for music listening, which will definitely sound better than any IPhone I've heard. I'm currently working on a review of the new Astell & Kern Kann music player. More to come.

If you have a great set of headphones, would you buy an iPhone 7 or 8? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.