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Why is this a problem since the iPhone 7
Since the iPhone 7, all Apple iPhones and iPads have shipped without a 3.5mm stereo jack socket. Instead, you now have a single Apple Lightning connector which is used for charging and connecting devices such as headphones. This means that from iPhone 7, you can’t attach headphones or the Aux input on your HIFI and charge your iPhone at the same time without using an adapter.
I have encountered three scenarios where this is an issue:
- I have an old car which pre-dates Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth audio connectivity, but I want to listen to music and audiobooks from my iPhone while driving and keep the phone charged up.
- I have some nice wired headphones which I like to use to listen to music. I want to be able to do this and keep the iPhone charged.
- In my garage I have a PA Sound System with and AUX input channel. I have a 3.5mm to Phono cable which I’ve used for years to connect various generations on iPhone, and before that radios and tape players. I want to be able to connect my iPhone to the Sound Systems AUX input and keep it charged.
My Prefered method of connecting iPhone to Aux input
With at least three different requirements, you can imagine that I have bought and tried a number of iPhone aux adapter devices and options over the last few years.
There are several adapters that will plug into the Lightning port. For a time Apple themselves supplied a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter with new iPhones to smooth the transition.
Recommended iPhone aux adapter
Currently, the device I am buying is this one from Amazon
What makes this the best adapter?
I’ve recently tried some different iPhone aux adapter adapters and had to return them to Amazon as faulty. This was because when used with the power adapter switched on there was a lot of audio distortion and interference. This didn’t sound like a classic AC hum, it was always more like the Digital Audio Converter in the adapter picking generating stay signals. I tried everything, swapping out cables, adapters, cleaning the port on the iPhone and nothing worked. I then swapped out the adapter with an older one I use in the car and it worked perfectly. So it looks to me like there are a newer generation of these adapters on the market which are using a slightly different implementation or DAC Chip which isn’t so good.
I’m pleased to report that as of January 2022, when I bought the above adapter from Amazon this one worked fine for me, so I’m happy to recommend it. (Click here to see it on Amazon)
Using this adapter you can keep your iPhone (or iPad) charging and connect headphone or Aux input devices at the same time.
If the above adapter isn’t available when you need one, the next device I was going to try is this one from Belkin
In my experience, they work closely with Apple and I would be surprised if their DAC had any issues. If you try this do please leave a comment below and let me know how it goes.
AirPlay is a good alternative to Aux Input
In my kitchen, we have a HIFI which the family use all the time to play audio from their iPhone, iPads and MacBooks etc. We don’t have to swap cables as I’ve connected the Aux Input on the HiFi to an Apple AirPort Express Adapter.
Sadly Apple no longer sells AirPort Express Adapters but you can always find them on eBay for about £20 in the UK. Make sure to get the second-generation devices that support a firmware update to AirPlay2.
Once you have these you can connect them to your WIFI, and they then show up on your iPhone as output devices.
In my sitting room I have an Apple TV which also supports AirPlay and can be connected via the Digital Audio Port or Aux channel to the hifi.
What is a Lightning port?
This is Apple’s alternative to USB and used to replace their legacy iPod interface and the 3.5 audio jack. While some may say Apple did this to sell more adapters, I think the real reason is simply the ports needed to get smaller and more water and dustproof as the devices themselves get smaller. Indeed, this trend is likely to continue and no doubt by 2023, Apple will have an iPhone which doesn’t have any ports and no SIM tray. This will make the iPhone much more water-resistant and stronger. When this happens all charging will be wireless and all audio communication will be over Bluetooth / Airplay.
The Lightning port itself is an 8 pin port, but it is all digital. There are no stereo audio output lines in the port. So, to get audio from this port you need an adapter that contains a Digital to Audio Converter (DAC) chip.