It was a dark day when smartphone makers ditched the headphone jack. I like wired headphones and I don’t always want to go wireless. I own some great earphones and when I’m working from home, I would like to use them with my phone. 

If you own a modern smartphone, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to plug in a pair of wired headphones. When Apple first ditched the headphone jack from its iPhones, it used to include a little converter in the box that enabled you to use wired headphones. But when I bought my iPhone SE 2020 recently, there was no such adapter. And when an Apple accessory costs just $9, I’m not filled with confidence that the sound quality is going to be great and Apple’s adapter won’t let you charge your iPhone at the same time. What is a music lover supposed to do?

If you own an Android phone without a headphone jack, you should take a look at the StarTech audio headphone adapter. This small device plugs into a phone or laptop’s USB-C port and restores the ability to use wired headphones and still lets you charge the your device at the same time.

The Startech USB-C to 3.5mm Audio Mobile Adapter is about the same size as a AAA battery and plugs straight into a USB-C port. At one side of the adapter there’s a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, while at the other end there’s a 24-pin USB-C female port that can be connected to chargers up to 60W output so that you can still power your laptop or phone while listening to the music. The adapter is made from grey aluminum and small enough to slip into a pocket. 

I tested the StarTech adapter on my iPhone SE 2020 using Apple’s USB to Lightning adapter and it worked. It couldn’t handle the charging input which it simply ignored, but it was good enough for me to test the audio qualities. Note to self: get an Android phone so you can test these devices. It also worked fine with my iMac and should work with any computer although the power input won’t handle the 96W power supplies of some Apple laptops.

The sound quality from Startech’s USB-C to 3.5mm Audio Mobile Adapter is excellent. The music comes across with a wide soundstage and a clarity that sounds much better than using a pair of Bluetooth wireless earphones. It seems good enough to drive a pair of high-quality earphones of almost any impedance and there’s plenty of volume on offer. 

Verdict: There’s not much else to say about tStartech’s USB-C to 3.5mm Audio Mobile Adapter. It’s a small and handy DAC for laptops and Android smartphones. It’s certainly high-enough quality to hold its own with a great pair of headphones. I just wish they made a version for the iPhone.

Pricing and Availability: The Startech USB-C to 3.5mm Audio Mobile Adapter is available now and costs $30.57 / £29.29

More info: www.amazon.com