Why is there no headphone jack on my iPad or iPhone?

Here we explain why there is no 3.5mm round headphone jack on your new iPad/iPhone, what this USB-C / lightning thing is all about, and what you can do about it!

The problem with looking after your iPhone 6 so well that you are still using it into 2021 is that we totally missed the fact that Apple has done away with the traditional 3.5mm round headphone jack on new devices.

We discovered this when Karen got herself a new iPad. We felt like Neanderthals dropped into the 21st century as we turned the iPad over in our hands looking for the jack. Where could it be? It didn’t help that, unknown to us, Karen’s daughter had ‘borrowed’ the headphones that came with the iPad as the new plug shape on that would have given us the clue we needed!

But, being ingenious Homo Sapiens we decided that clearly Karen either needed wireless headphones and/or an adaptor. And curses to Apple for not providing a headphone jack. As we were about to hit the buy button, said daughter came in and explained that: “The iPad headphones use the new USB-C connector; it’s the same hole used by the charger –  and actually, I have the headphones that came with the iPad upstairs…” Oh!

This is also the time to mention that this is the same but different for newer iPhones which have also dumped the 3.5mm jack. These also use the one connector for charging and connecting your headphones, but in this case it’s remains the older lightning connection.

Yes, it is confusing and annoying.

So, there are still reasons you might want to purchase a set of wireless bluetooth headphones and/or the adapter:

  1. Charging while listening – Since the USB-C jack on the most recent iPad models, and the lightning connector on the most recent iPhone models is designed to be used for both charging and listening, you can only use one or the other at any one time. So if you want to use headphones while charging, you need wireless headphones
  2. Simplicity – Wireless also makes sense as you can use one set of headphones to connect to either your iPad, or your iPhone, or your laptop because remember, your laptop may still use the old 3.5mm connector.
  3. Mobility – Wireless is good in that you can put your phone / iPad down and move around without getting caught up in the wires. Good if you are cooking or doing some exercise, for example. But wireless headphones need to be kept charged which does require another layer of discipline otherwise it can be bad luck if you are in the middle of a meeting and your headphones go flat! Or, look for headphones with a very long battery life, like the ones that Karen was going to buy. You also need to go through the painful ‘pairing’ process. 
  4. Connectivity – And then, another option. Keep one headset and use adapters so that you can connect to whichever device you want using the same headset. Even so, you come back to the original problem of having the single jack for charging/listening on more modern iPads and iPhones. Argh.

You might be wondering what the heck Apple is up to? Why has listening connectivity got more complicated over time, not simpler? You might also wonder whether new iPhones will come out with a USB-C connection like the iPad. Possibly, since the EU is pushing for manufacturers to use a common standard (not Apple’s lightning) in a bid to cut electronic waste and make consumers’ lives easier, but experts believe that Apple is really hoping to develop their remote wireless charging technology so that they can do away with charge cables altogether. So maybe wireless is the way to go!

We’ve pulled together a few product suggestions. Of course the permutations are endless: you could get a USB-C to lightning adapter so you could connect your USB-C headphones to your iPhone, you could get one the other way to connect your lightning headphones to your iPad, and so on… 

* Note that the prices are correct at the time of ‘going to press’ and that these are Prime prices. Expect to pay a bit more if you don’t use Prime.

Finally, these are affiliate links so if you do purchase anything after using these links we may benefit from a small commission, which we would appreciate of course. 🙂 

Apple EarPods with Lightning Connector – White


This one is for more recent iPhone models.

Learn more: view on Amazon

Connects your old 3.5mm headphones to your new USB-C iPad

Connects your old 3.5mm headphones to your new lightning-only iPhone

£25.49* We liked the look of these as they were well-rated, well priced and had a good long playtime. Karen was also looking for something comfortable to wear while listening to podcasts, etc. Learn more: visit Amazon


Very well-reviewed. Waterproof which may be useful if you have sweaty ears or like dancing in the rain. 40 hours playtime.

Learn more: visit Amazon

Author: Katie McGregor, Love Life over 40

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Posted in Practical Living, technology and tagged , , .
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