Thinking of picking up the new iPhone 15 and want to make full use of the new USB-C port? Here’s our pick of the best USB-C headphones.
The Apple iPhone 15 line up may not have arrived with any huge headline-grabbing upgrades, but there was one big change that caused a stir, and that was the move from Apple’s proprietary charging solution, via the Lightning connector, to the more universal charging format, USB-C.
While this may mean waving goodbye to any Lightning headphones you own (though you can always buy the adapter if you wish), it opens up the iPhone to be used with the best USB-C headphones out there – whether that be wired USB-C headphones, or wireless headphones that also have the benefit of also playing back audio via USB-C.
Wired sound can not only be more reliable, but it can also sound better, particularly when some headphones contain a better DAC (digital-to-analogue converters) than what’s on offer in the iPhone itself. If that sounds interesting, I’ve picked out some of the best USB-C headphones you can buy.
Apple Earpods (USB-C)
Apple’s own EarPods are an easy way of picking up wired USB-C headphones on a budget. Costing under $20, they’re not most feature packed, but they’ll do the job – just be careful you’re buying the right ones as the Lightning version remain on sale.
Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2
Best for style
The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 are some of the best headphones you can buy, period, so the fact you can listen via USB-C as well as wireless makes them as verstile as they are stylish. Of course they sound great too, and are super comfy for longer wears.
Best for sound quality
If you’re looking for the best sounding USB-C headphones you can buy, then you’ve found them. The Focal Bathys can be used wirelessly, but use their included USB-C cable instead and you can use the headphones’ 24-bit DAC to help your iPhone sound even better.
Beats / Pocket-lint
Beats Studio Pro
Best for versatility
The Beats Studio Pro are the newest flagship overears from the Beats camp and one again you get the versatility of wireless listening here, with USB-C if you need it. Being owned by Apple helps too, and these will connect seamlessly with your iPhone.
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless
Best for battery life
If you’re always on the go, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 are a fantastic over-ear travel companion thanks to their whopping 60-hour battery life. Solid sound and decent ANC round off another versatle option, which ships with a USB-C cable for wired listening as standard.
Shure AONIC 50 Gen 2
Best for comfort
The Shure Aonic 50 noise-cancelling headphones are back with a second generation, offering new spatial audio capabilities and a 50 per cent better battery life – meaning you now get up to 45 hours of playback. They can be used wireless, but a USB-C cable for wired listening is in the box.
Best for gamers
These eye-catching earbuds offer flexibility for your listening, coming with a 3.5mm jack and a USB-C adapter. This means you can use them across devices – including for gaming on your Nintendo Switch or PC. Don’t worry, there are other colours if “in-your-face” isn’t your choice of aesthetic.
Samsung AKG Type-C Earbuds
These AKG-tuned headphones from Samsung offer a solid, balanced sound and have a USB-C connector that’ll work perfectly with the iPhone 15 series. They have a straightforward design, with a 1.25m braided cable, as well as a choice of earbud sizes and in-line mic controls.
Why should I buy USB-C headphones for my iPhone 15?
The best thing about using USB-C headphones is that – for the most part – you often don’t need to charge them, and they’re ready to go whenever you want them. The exception to this rule might be noise-cancelling headphones that will require a charge as well, but obviously you’re getting extra functionality there for your effort.
They’re also pretty easy to carry around (if you don’t mind untangling the odd wire every now and then) and if you’re prone to losing things, you can never find yourself with one earbud missing.
Perhaps one of the more compelling reasons is that some headphones offer a built-in DAC that can make your music sound better than they would by using the iPhone’s built-in DAC – but once again, not all do, so do check that first.
What are the downsides to USB-C headphones?
The biggest disadvantage of USB-C headphones is – of course – the fact they’re wired, and the majority of people would prefer to use wireless headphones, due to convenience. The choice of purely USB-C headphones is, for that reason, relatively limited and also in some cases, quite old.
Unless you’re on a very strict budget, you might be better considering some of the wireless options in our list that also provide USB-C listening, for true versatility – but also do check on that first. Some charge via USB-C but can’t playback music, so don’t assume any headphones with a USB-C port will have this functionality.