How I Still Use My (Obsolete) Wired Bose Headphones With My iPhone

by joeheg

One of the best things I’ve ever purchased to make my travel more comfortable, besides signing up for Global Entry, is my Bose Quiet Comfort 25 Noise Cancelling headphones.

Screen Shot 2019-03-11 at 11.51.00 PM

Thanks to stacking some offers on Amazon Prime Day, I was able to pick them up for an out-of-pocket cost of $73.69 

Over the years, I’ve been able to sleep through flights full of crying children and/or coughing adults, thanks to these technological wonders. That is, until I wasn’t.

While we’re tech-savvy, we don’t feel the need to upgrade when new versions of items have been introduced (except for iPhones).

While I was happy to stay with my old Motorola RAZR when the original iPhone was introduced, Sharon wanted to try the newest smartphone on the market. Therefore, I’ve always been one step behind on the upgrade chain. We’ve worked this out by having Sharon get the newest phone available from Apple and I get the hand-me-down after a year.


The line of boxes has only gotten longer since this picture was taken

When it was finally time for Sharon to get an iPhone XS, I was handed a one-year-old iPhone X. Quick to wipe it and load all of my apps, music and videos, I boarded our first trip with my new (slightly used) phone.

I unpacked my Bose headphones and realized what I’m sure many of you already know, every iPhone after the iPhone X lacks a headphone jack.

Golden iPhone 7 Plus(on top) and pink 6 Plus(bottom) the headphones jack missing on the new 7 Plus

While I knew my iPhone X was missing a headphone jack, since I needed to bring a set of headphones with a lightning connector to the gym with me, it never dawned on me to change my packing list.

So when I got onto the plane and went to plug in my expensive noise-canceling Bose headphones, I realized my error. I couldn’t use them. I did have the set of Apple headphones I brought with me for when I went to the hotel gym (which I never did) (Note from Sharon: Anyone surprised? Anyone? Beuller?), but they were no match for the child three rows behind me who talked for the entire flight about everything he was going to do when they got to Disney World.

I get it, you’re excited. But the whole plane doesn’t care and why aren’t your parents telling you to use your “inside voice?”

At the time, I found a cable to connect my iPhone to my headphones. Since then, I discovered there’s a $9 adapter from Apple that will allow you to plug a 3.5 mm headphone plug into an iPhone’s lightning jack.

I’m sure that there are some of you who are asking why I just don’t buy Bose QC45 headphones. The simple answer is that my headphones still work fine and do what I want them to do. When the ear cushions wore out, it was easy to buy a replacement set. In addition, I prefer a set of wired headphones which will still work if I run out of battery. Sure, I won’t get the noise-canceling features but they’ll still function.

Since I use them 90% for listening to music at home and 10% while on a plane, why should I pay $300 for a new pair of headphones? It’s the same reason why I travel with outdated tech.

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ed March 12, 2019 - 6:13 pm

You actually just needed this adapter, and it lets you use the buttons on the original bose cable.

joeheg March 12, 2019 - 7:11 pm

True, but that’s $8 for a small little adapter that I’m sure I’d eventually lose (or if it’s like other Apple cables will break off at the end). I’d prefer just to have a wire.

DaninMCI March 12, 2019 - 7:23 pm

The dongles don’t last but they last about as long as cords and are cheaper. You have to be careful to by the Iphone X or better versions and usually you can get two good quality ones for less than $10. You’d think Bose would want to make some good quality cords just so they can sell you one for $40, etc.

joeheg March 12, 2019 - 10:30 pm

I’m always amazed when I have to buy third party tech to meet a need that should be met by the original manufacturers.

DT March 12, 2019 - 8:15 pm

Another option is AirMod Wireless Bluetooth Adapter for about $55. One could get it cheaper during eBay promotions.

joeheg March 12, 2019 - 10:46 pm

I didn’t even think about going that route. Something still feels wrong about having a bluetooth connection centered around my head.

Jim Macdonald May 17, 2022 - 8:10 pm

Just googled “health risk of Bluetooth headphones”. Reported to be safe (non-ionizing EMR). I purchased the Bolle&Raven Wireless Bluetooth Adapter for Bose QuietComfort Headphones ($49 USD, $62 CAD)and I love it. Very satisfying rejuvenation for my headphones.

tom March 12, 2019 - 10:43 pm

this is the worst type of click back

Busy March 13, 2019 - 8:14 am

This is why I almost abhor Apple. They are too locked down and force you to buy extra things for the basics. No headphone jack, no adoption of standards like USB for charging and connectivity, no inherent ability to sideload programs, no SD cards, different power for wireless fast charging.

DaninMCI January 16, 2022 - 6:29 pm

So three years since you posted this and you are still getting plenty of miles out of those I’d guess. Seriously I have several pair of Bose headphones of different generations and the newer bluetooth ones are great unless you are trying to use them with airline IFE and then it’s a pain I end up using a cord anyway since the airline headphones are all crap lately. You can get a bose bluetooth adaptor and the non-apple branded adapters are crap.

Mak January 16, 2022 - 6:50 pm

The new Bose NC700 headphones are garbage with buggy firmware that makes them more frustrating than any other product I own. A total waste of money.

Steve January 17, 2022 - 7:18 am

ive used mine so much ive replaced the cushions twice. you can buy replacements on amazon

Toni March 9, 2022 - 1:18 pm

I bought the lightning dongle and my iPhone 13 does not recognize that the headphones are plugged in and still plays through the speakers. I have an older version the QC 15. Any ideas for fixes?

Things I haven’t tried yet…
Different headphones on the current dongle
Using the same headphones on a different dongle

C June 9, 2023 - 5:49 pm

You don’t need an adapter if you use Bluetooth and use them wirelessly


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