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Which iPhone accessories will work with the 5s and 5c?

Dan Frakes | Sept. 30, 2013
We've been testing various gadgets and gear with the new iPhones, and here's what we've found

Similarly, any charging dock or cradle that fits the iPhone 5 precisely will fit the 5s, but not the 5c. Docks that aren't custom fit for a particular phone model, such as Twelve South's HiRise for iPhone, are compatibile with both new iPhones.

There's one important caveat here, though: Some charging accessories that worked with the iPhone 5 before iOS 7 was released may not be compatible—with the 5, 5s, or 5c—now. See "iOS 7-related accessory issues," below.

Speaker docks
As with charging docks and cradles, Lightning-connector speaker docks (and dock cradles for connecting your iPhone to your stereo system) that precisely fit the iPhone 5 will work with the iPhone 5s, but not the 5c. Cradles that use a more-universal design, like the one on B&W's Z2, should fit both new models.

However, the caveat about charging accessories, noted above, also affects some speaker docks. See "iOS 7-related accessory issues," below.

Powered speakers and traditional stereo systems
As with any audio device, you can connect your iPhone 5s or 5c's headphone jack to a set of powered speakers, or to your home stereo system, using standard audio cables. The drawback to this approach, as with any iOS device, is that you lose any on-speaker controls that require a dock connection, as well as the capability to charge your iPhone while listening. A nice compromise is to use Apple's $29 iPhone 5s Dock or iPhone 5c Dock. This cradle holds your iPhone snugly and provides a line-level audio-output jack for better sound quality than the phone's headphone jack. If you've got a spare USB-to-Lightning-connector cable, the Dock can even charge your iPhone while you're listening.

Headphones, wired headsets, and headphone-jack microphones
The iPhone 5s and 5c sport Apple's now-standard multi-function headphone jack. This connection works as a standard headphone jack, allowing you to use any headphones with a 1/8-inch (3.5mm) stereo miniplug. But it also supports Apple-style stereo headsets (such as the included EarPods) that include an inline remote control and microphone. If that remote includes three buttons, two control volume level, and the third lets you control media playback, activate Siri, answer/end phone calls, and (when using the Camera app) take photos. You can also use headphone-jack microphones, such as IK Multimedia's iRig Mic Cast. This functionality hasn't changed.

Bluetooth headsets
Like previous iPhone models, the 5s and 5c let you use any standard, mono Bluetooth earpiece or headset for making and taking phone calls. With most recent headsets, you can use the usual single-button controls: press to answer or end a call, double-press to redial the last number, and press-hold to activate Siri. If you have an A2DP-compatible headset or earpiece, you may also be able to listen to non-phone audio, including music--in mono, of course.


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