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Belkin Charge RockStar is the Lightning Splitter the iPhone 7 Sadly Needs

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!

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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.

8 Comments

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  1. Hi Adam,

    Thanks for reading and good question!
    The splitter automatically detects which port is being used for audio and which is being used for charging – they can’t both be used as audio or both used for charging.
    Unfortunately, it can’t be used the way you imagines.

    Hope that helps!

  2. Hi T. Jensen,

    Thanks for the question.
    Unfortunately no, if one port is used for charging the other is automatically designated as an audio port.

    Hope that helps!

  3. Is this only audio out or does it support audio input for phone calls? I’ve only read how it will output audio but nothing about input. If there was audio input, this also will give access to musicians to charge their phone while using devices like the Shure MV51 or Shure MVi I which it runs off your iPhone battery with no options to keep the phone charged since these units are lightning bolt connected.

  4. I found this quote on their website saying that you can enjoy music or talk…

    “LIGHTNING AUDIO + POWER

    The Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar makes it possible to listen to Lightning Audio while charging your iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Enjoy music or talk through Lightning Audio headphones while you charge. Use the RockStar anywhere; at home, at work, in the car or on the go.

    Made for: iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, any Lightning device that runs iOS 10 or later

    Works with MFI-certified USB to Lightning cables

    Works with MFI-certified Lightning Audio headphones”

  5. Hi John,

    We talked to Belkin reps yesterday, and they told us that in-line mics on headphones will work and that dedicated mics like the ones from Shure that you mentioned should work, but we’ve seen reports from other users that they’ve had problems with the latter.
    Officially from Belkin, those mics should work, but we haven’t tested this ourselves to be sure.

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