Philips Releases First Headphones that Only Work with iOS Devices

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 2.04.23 PM.pngWhen Apple added the ability for headphones to connect to an iOS device’s lightning connector, they opened the door to stupidity. Now, Philips is the first company to embrace that stupidity with their Fidelio M2L headphones. According to the company, they:

“deliver Fidelio’s signature sound in high resolution directly to your iOS device, without distortion or crosstalk, thanks to a Lightning connector and built-in DAC.”

The problem is this: you can only use these headphones with an iOS device, and only a recent one that has a lightning connector. (It’s not clear if they work with older 30-pin devices through an adaptor, but it’s possible that they do.) So, if you’re listening to music on your iPhone, and want to switch to, say, your laptop or iMac, you can’t. You can only use them with devices that have Apple’s lightning connector. You can’t lend them to a friend with an Android phone, or a laptop, and you can’t use them with your computer, whether it’s a Mac or PC.

I understand the logic: because of the built-in DAC, and the capabilities that Apple offers, this is interesting. But it’s a huge failure if the headphones only work with a limited number of devices. Also, what happens when Apple switches from the Lightning connector to something else? Will they work with an adapter?

I think it would be foolish to buy these.

22 thoughts on “Philips Releases First Headphones that Only Work with iOS Devices

  1. I’m figuring that one port laptop that is in all the rumors isn’t a USB C port, but a Lightning port, and either a mouse enabled iOS or a much more touch centric MacOS (more likely iOS). That would make a wider market for something like this.

  2. I’m figuring that one port laptop that is in all the rumors isn’t a USB C port, but a Lightning port, and either a mouse enabled iOS or a much more touch centric MacOS (more likely iOS). That would make a wider market for something like this.

  3. There are advantages to specialization and to generalization, depending on the situation. I have about five sets of headphones, and perhaps ten sets of earbuds. The majority of them I use with only a single device or device type. For me, specialization makes sense for headphones. I would rather have a dedicated set for a specific location, activity, and/or device than to have one set for all activities. I will never use my audio editing headphones with my iPods, nor will I take it out jogging. I don’t use my earbuds to edit audio.

    If Philips, or any other company, releases a dedicated iPhone/iPod/iPad set of headphones that pleases me, I will be happy to buy it. Indeed, that is the motivation behind all of my purchases of earbuds. Even though they could be used for other things, I only use them for my iDevices. I don’t care about all the other mentioned options and possibilities. I don’t see specialization as any problem in this product segment, for my usage.

    The “risk” that Apple might change the Lightning connector is a canard. The connector has changed once in 14.25 years, and I don’t expect nor require greater longevity than that, in my iDevice headphones. As with most consumer electronics, if you don’t like a device, don’t buy it. But to say a product shouldn’t exist, and that a technical innovation is inherently stupid, shows a misunderstanding of the history, dynamics, and rapid evolution of consumer electronics. I know that Kirk has a deep understanding of these things, so I fear that someone has been slipping a dose of curmudgeon into his morning digital coffee.

    • There is a slight risk regarding the connector, because EU law says that all phones have to have USB chargers. Apple, as far as I know, isn’t complying with that law; at least, when I got my iPhone 6, which I later returned, there was no Lightning > USB adapter. But it’s more that these are expensive headphones, and if you can’t use them on a computer, it’s a shame. Imagine you’re traveling, and want to watch a movie on your laptop; you’ll need a second set of headphones.

  4. There are advantages to specialization and to generalization, depending on the situation. I have about five sets of headphones, and perhaps ten sets of earbuds. The majority of them I use with only a single device or device type. For me, specialization makes sense for headphones. I would rather have a dedicated set for a specific location, activity, and/or device than to have one set for all activities. I will never use my audio editing headphones with my iPods, nor will I take it out jogging. I don’t use my earbuds to edit audio.

    If Philips, or any other company, releases a dedicated iPhone/iPod/iPad set of headphones that pleases me, I will be happy to buy it. Indeed, that is the motivation behind all of my purchases of earbuds. Even though they could be used for other things, I only use them for my iDevices. I don’t care about all the other mentioned options and possibilities. I don’t see specialization as any problem in this product segment, for my usage.

    The “risk” that Apple might change the Lightning connector is a canard. The connector has changed once in 14.25 years, and I don’t expect nor require greater longevity than that, in my iDevice headphones. As with most consumer electronics, if you don’t like a device, don’t buy it. But to say a product shouldn’t exist, and that a technical innovation is inherently stupid, shows a misunderstanding of the history, dynamics, and rapid evolution of consumer electronics. I know that Kirk has a deep understanding of these things, so I fear that someone has been slipping a dose of curmudgeon into his morning digital coffee.

    • There is a slight risk regarding the connector, because EU law says that all phones have to have USB chargers. Apple, as far as I know, isn’t complying with that law; at least, when I got my iPhone 6, which I later returned, there was no Lightning > USB adapter. But it’s more that these are expensive headphones, and if you can’t use them on a computer, it’s a shame. Imagine you’re traveling, and want to watch a movie on your laptop; you’ll need a second set of headphones.

  5. I think Apple is doing a great job of pushing the envelope for quality. By your argument, you can say the same for headphones that use different jack sizes. If Apple succeeds with this, they will potentially have one less input to deal with in future devices (even thinner phones). Apple may very well add connections on their future laptops too. Apple has enough market share, and individual owners own enough devices to justify such a device. Further, Apple makes plenty of adapters and there is no reason for them not to make a lightning to standard headphone jack adapter.

    I consider this excellent progress for mobile audio sound quality.

    • That’s entirely possible, but I think the USB C connector is more flexible, and offers higher throughput, so it can drive a display.

    • There are only two headphone jack sizes, and all the headphones I have that have the larger plugs come with adapters. One thing to realize is that the Philips headphone has a built-in DAC, and if you connected it through an adapter, that wouldn’t work, nor would the noise canceling, because they have no batteries in the headphones.

      • Three: You forget the “stereo jack” that nobody uses anymore, but was popular in the ’70s. Or you’re forgetting about the smaller-than-mini jack that has been used by some phones (such as the Palm Treo).

        And having this kind of connector is not new. That’s how my old Windows Mobile headphones worked; through the USB/power jack. The main problem was the awkward dongle I had to use if I wanted to both charge the phone and listen to music. I wonder if Apple offers such a dongle for Lightning?

        • (I should have read your comment more closely; clearly you’re aware of Stereo jacks, not that should surprise me. Still, you’re forgetting the smaller jack used in many (older?) cell phones.)

        • Yes, that smaller jack is still used, but I don’t thing cell phones use them any more. Curiously, you find them on IP phones, which means you can’t use standard headphones on them without an adapter. (Though this may no longer be the case; the last IP phone I had was some years ago.)

  6. I think Apple is doing a great job of pushing the envelope for quality. By your argument, you can say the same for headphones that use different jack sizes. If Apple succeeds with this, they will potentially have one less input to deal with in future devices (even thinner phones). Apple may very well add connections on their future laptops too. Apple has enough market share, and individual owners own enough devices to justify such a device. Further, Apple makes plenty of adapters and there is no reason for them not to make a lightning to standard headphone jack adapter.

    I consider this excellent progress for mobile audio sound quality.

    • That’s entirely possible, but I think the USB C connector is more flexible, and offers higher throughput, so it can drive a display.

    • There are only two headphone jack sizes, and all the headphones I have that have the larger plugs come with adapters. One thing to realize is that the Philips headphone has a built-in DAC, and if you connected it through an adapter, that wouldn’t work, nor would the noise canceling, because they have no batteries in the headphones.

      • Three: You forget the “stereo jack” that nobody uses anymore, but was popular in the ’70s. Or you’re forgetting about the smaller-than-mini jack that has been used by some phones (such as the Palm Treo).

        And having this kind of connector is not new. That’s how my old Windows Mobile headphones worked; through the USB/power jack. The main problem was the awkward dongle I had to use if I wanted to both charge the phone and listen to music. I wonder if Apple offers such a dongle for Lightning?

        • (I should have read your comment more closely; clearly you’re aware of Stereo jacks, not that should surprise me. Still, you’re forgetting the smaller jack used in many (older?) cell phones.)

        • Yes, that smaller jack is still used, but I don’t thing cell phones use them any more. Curiously, you find them on IP phones, which means you can’t use standard headphones on them without an adapter. (Though this may no longer be the case; the last IP phone I had was some years ago.)

  7. Not to mention the fact that you cannot charge the iOS device while you are listening through these kind of headphones. That’s a Big Minus …

  8. Not to mention the fact that you cannot charge the iOS device while you are listening through these kind of headphones. That’s a Big Minus …

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