When Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 back in 2016, the world managed to keep turning. Between dongles and AirPods and comes-with-your-iPhone Lightning EarPods, there were a handful of different options to move forward. But when Apple introduced its shiny new 2017 MacBook Pro with three USB Type-C ports, a good old fashioned headphone jack and nothing else it led to a weird little issue: Apple’s standard iPhone headphones with their Lightning plug had no way to plug into Apple’s flagship computer, which lacks one.
Years later, no Mac has a female Lightning port. It's unsurprising given Apple's turn towards AirPods, but it also poses a problem for anyone who wants to take the Lightning version of Apple's wired earbuds that come with an iPhone and plug them into a Mac.
Fortunately, a dongle exists: Anker's USB-C to Lightning Audio Adapter has a female Lightning port on the one side, which you can plug your Lightning headphones into, and then a male USB-C port on the other, which you can use to plug into any Mac that has USB-C ports on it.
This will let you plug Lightning headphones directly into a USB-C port, like the ones you'll find on a MacBook Pro.
At $30, it’s a bit steep for such a minor convenience, but more worth it if you happen to own one of the few pairs of pricier Lightning headphones like Beats urBeats3, which until now have been relegated to iPhone only.
When it comes to using wired headphones with the iPhone, there are a few other adapters to consider that might make your life a little easier: Belkin's audio and charge adaptors you listen and charge at the same time, whether you are using Lightning headphones or Apple wired headphones with a 3.5mm jack.
Even with this Lightning headphones to USB-C adapter, Lightning headphones are still a bit hamstrung; there’s still no way to plug a pair of Lightning headphones into a traditional 3.5mm headphone jack, and there likely never will be: such an adapter would double the number of digital to analog conversions that happen to a signal on the way to your ears which is more trouble than it is worth and bad for audio quality to boot.
But at least now, after years and with the help of a third-party adapter, two of Apple’s most common gadgets, Lightning headphones and the MacBook Pro, are compatible. Steve Jobs would be proud.