We all wanted to discount the rumor mill’s constant allegations that next month’s iPhone 7 will be replacing the headphone jack for a second speaker. Yet, now the time has come, and most Apple devotees will have to say goodbye to their current pair of headphones.
Apple’s goal is to convert its user base to either Bluetooth headphones or a pair of lightning-based earphones.
As for other options? The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will include a lightning-to-3.5 mm adapter. But in the same way that you can convert your old 3.5mm headphones to lightning, you can also convert them to Bluetooth wireless using one of these convenient dongles.
Bluetooth carries a lot of convenience, and converting your current cans to a wireless standard seems a lot more appealing than using Apple’s unsightly adapter.
Most Bluetooth sources can produce audio that is the same quality as analog sources, and not having a cable connected to your phone can be surprisingly liberating. With a compact pocket Bluetooth receiver, the future of mobile mp3 players may not be so grim.
1. Mpow Bluetooth 2-in-1 Bluetooth Receiver/Transmitter
Mpow’s solution to analog/digital conversion is a pocket-sized device that can act as both a Bluetooth receiver and a Bluetooth transmitter. Using this box as a receiver will allow it to connect to your wireless audio source via the device’s Bluetooth settings.
Once connected, you can plug your headphones into the 3.5mm jack, and enjoy lag-free wireless streaming while you tuck this battery-powered device in your pocket. Keep in mind that this unit is not an amplifier, so this will not work with high-impedance headphones.
At home, you can also utilize the Bluetooth transmitter feature by attaching a wired source with the included 3.5mm patch cable, then converting the signal to Bluetooth for a pair of wireless headphones to receive. Don’t count on making this a permanent wireless transmitter though, as the device has a rechargeable battery and it cannot be used to transmit while charging.
For mobile use, however, the average six hours of battery life in receiver mode is plenty of time to enjoy a day of headphone listening without tying down your new iPhone.
Price: $19.99 (33 percent off MSRP)
2. Anker 2-in-1 Bluetooth Audio Transmitter/Receiver
Major electronics manufacturer Anker also offers a 2-in-1 Bluetooth transmitter/receiver, and though it is a little pricier and heavier than Mpow’s Bluetooth streaming option, it is still a viable choice for a portable wireless audio solution.
Anker makes the two functions easy to toggle, offering a large switch with either “TX” for transmitter mode, or “RX” for receiver mode. As with all devices of this type, battery life varies using one or the other. You get an average six hours of battery life from the receiver mode, but the devices holds a solid eleven hours when used as a transmitter.
All of this convenience comes in a sturdy aluminum housing, and is backed by a nice 18-month warranty from Anker, making it an excellent choice.
Price: $28.99 (37 percent off MSRP)
Buy the Anker 2-in-1 Bluetooth Audio Transmitter/Receiver or find more information and reviews here.
3. Etekcity Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Receiver
The Roverbeats Unify from Etekcity Wireless is a much smaller Bluetooth receiver than the above choices, and by that grace alone, makes it a great gadget to bring along whenever you want to use your favorite headphones.
The reason the Roverbeats can achieve such a small form factor is that it does not offer transmitter features, which is fine as they are only needed if you have wireless headphones to connect to a wired source. And if you have wireless headphones, you wouldn’t necessarily need a receiver in the first place, would you?
Another benefit that this device has is a ten hour battery life, which is enough extra juice to provide most with another day of use without charging. Combine a longer battery life and a more compact form factor, and you have a highly viable option for wireless freedom.
Price: $19.99 (20 percent off MSRP)
4. Antec Smart Bean Portable Bluetooth Receiver
The Smart Bean from Antec is a stylish Bluetooth receiver that maintains a small profile despite having a full set of audio controls built right in. As a receiver only, this device can pack a lot of value into a small package, and its built-in belt clip helps keep your pockets free of extra clutter.
This adapter is easy to use and gets an average seven hours of use from one charge. And unlike other Bluetooth receivers, this unit has a microphone built in, which solves the universal problem of headphone mics not working through Bluetooth.
As a Bluetooth accessory that can actually improve your user experience with your headphones, the Smart Bean is definitely worth considering.
Price: $24.58 and up
5. Poweradd Bluetooth 4.0 Headphone Receiver
Though it is significantly larger than other Bluetooth receivers, the Poweradd Audio Receiver has many unique merits that might make it worth carrying around anyway. For starts, this device has a built-in amplifier, which allows it to work with headphones rated for an impedance of up to 600 Ω.
This device also has a massive battery, allowing it up to sixty hours of playtime, an average ten times more than the other devices listed. And while other devices only support A2DP Bluetooth protocols, this is the only budget receiver we found that supports Apt-X streaming (a higher audio quality standard).
Combine that with three unique EQ modes, and you have a powerful listening tool that puts you in control of how you enjoy your music.
Price: $29.99 (50 percent off MSRP)