So, speaking of great accessories that Apple’s frustrating decision to get rid of the 3.5 mm jack has made necessary, here’s Belkin! While Griffin’s new device is turning wired analog headphones wireless, Belkin is solving the other half of the iPhone 7 headphone problem — not being able to charge the phone and use wired headphones at the same time.
The earbuds shipping with the iPhone 7 use the Lightning port, and that creates all kinds of problems. Using the Lightning port doesn’t make sound quality any better, but it does allow headphone makers to add features like active noise cancellation without the need for their own battery. Of course, that means your headphones will draw power from your iPhone, which will die even faster as a result. And here’s the best part — now that it’s time to charge your iPhone, you can’t use your wired earbuds because the Lightning port is taken. Thanks Apple!
Because of that whole conundrum, Belkin has created the Charge RockStar, and let’s not split hairs — it’s a splitter. It’s a dongle that plugs in to the Lightning port, and has two Lightning ports of its own. The RockStar enables 12W passthrough charging, so one port can be used to charge the phone and the other can be used for the Lightning earbuds that come with the iPhone 7. That’s about the extent of it. Oh, right, if you want to use it with analog headphones, you can plug Apple’s Lightning-to-3.5 mm adapter into one of the ports, then plug the headphones into that. It’s not a pretty mental picture.
So, that costs $40, which is actually pretty galling when we step back and look at it (knowing the cut Apple usually demands for MFi products, we’re putting this more on them than Belkin). Surprisingly enough, Apple isn’t making their own Lightning splitter, I suppose because they’re focusing more on the wireless implications of removing the 3.5 mm port. So, as far as we know, this is the only Lightning splitter option (please let us know if you find any others!). It’s the 30-pin abandonment all over again, only even less defensible.