You’ve probably noticed that Apple iPad Pros from the 3rd generation October 2018 model and newer don’t have a headphone jack. And new iPad Airs and Minis are the same. But if you’re a fan of wired headphones, you may have trouble with your iPad.
Where is the iPad headphone jack?
To understand headphone plug-in options for your Apple iPad, you need to know which iPads come without a headphone connector and what kind of charging port your iPad comes with.
iPad Connector Ports
There seems to be no rhyme or reason for the decisions Apple makes when they change things from one model to the next. A few changes to Apple’s hardware have been made to the classic iPad over the years, one of which affects how you plug in headphones.
Apple seems to be gearing customers towards Bluetooth technology and their own wireless earbuds, the Apple AirPods (Source).
Here’s what you need to know for each model as it relates to how to plug in headphones on your iPad.
✅ The Editor Suggests Reading: Can you connect 2 Bluetooth headphones to iPad?
2021 iPad Models
2021 iPad models include Apple iPad Pro 12.9” 5th Generation, iPad Pro 11” 3rd Generation, regular iPad 9th Generation, and iPad Mini 6th Generation.
If you have the regular iPad 9th generation, you’re in luck. This generation of the tablet is the only 2021 model iPad that still comes with a headphone jack, making it compatible with wired headphones. For the rest of them, you’ll need to use a headphone jack dongle.
All 2021 iPad models come with a USB-C charging port. A quick Amazon search will return dozens of dongles with various connector adaptor options. Any of these with a headphone port will work fine for plugging in your headphones to your iPad.
2020 iPad Models
2020 iPad models include iPad Pro 12.9” 4th Generation, iPad Pro 11” 2nd Generation, regular iPad 8th Generation, and Air 4th Generation.
Just like the 2021 models, the only 2020 model that comes with a headphone jack is the 2020 regular iPad. The 2020 regular iPad is the 8th generation.
For the others in 2020, the same USB-C connectors mentioned above for the 2021 model iPads work here as well.
2019 iPad Models
2019 iPad models include Regular iPad 7th Generation, Air 3rd Generation, and iPad Mini 5th Generation.
All iPads that debuted in 2019 come with a headphone jack connector (note that the iPad Pro did not have a new model in 2019), so with these, you’re good to go to just plug in your 3.5 mm headphone jack directly to the device.
Even though you don’t need a dongle to plug in your headphones to 2019 iPads, it’s worth noting that all 2019 models come with a USB-C charging port. So if you’re interested in sharing audio with another person, you can purchase a USB-C headphone jack dongle for a second set to be plugged into.
2018 iPad Models
2018 iPad models include iPad Pro 12.9” 3rd Generation, iPad Pro 11” 1st Generation, and regular iPad 6th Generation.
Here’s where it started to change for the iPad Pros. Beginning in 2018, all iPad Pros come without a headphone jack connector. However, the regular iPad, 6th generation, does have a headphone jack connector.
All of these 2018 models also have a USB-C charging port. You can use any USB-C dongle to plug in your headphones on these as well. This is the first year Apple changed from the lightning charging port to the USB-C.
2017 and Older iPads
All iPads that debuted in 2017 or earlier come equipped with a headphone jack connector. If you have one of these older devices, you should be good to go to just plug your 3.5 mm headphone jack directly into the device.
For the charging connector, these older iPads are equipped with the lightning charging port. You can get dongles for these in case you want to connect a second set of headphones to it.
Quick-Reference Guide for Headphones Connections on the iPad
|Headphone Jack||Charging Port Type||iPad Model|
|No||USB-C||All 2018 and newer iPad Pros2020 iPad Air, Gen 42021 iPad Mini, Gen 6|
|Yes||USB-C||All regular 2018 and newer iPads2019 iPad Air, Gen 32019 iPad Mini, Gen 5|
|Yes||Lightning||All 2017 and older iPads, any version|
Final Notes for Plugging in Your Headphones on Your iPad
It may be frustrating to keep up with all the changes Apple makes with new evolutions of their devices. Excluding a headphone jack connector on its iPads and iPhones was a big one people had to get used to. It’s especially confusing because older models of these devices are still widely being used, so you have to be diligent in understanding the features of your specific device.
The good thing is, technology manufacturers are quick to keep up with Apple’s changes. It’s easy to find adapters or workarounds for pretty much any upgrade the device is capable of. In the case of plugging headphones into iPads, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at all the different options you’ll find on the market.
Trivia Question: Do iPads come with headphones? <– Read the article to find out.
Dongles come in all shapes and sizes. You can find them for USB-C ports and lightning ports. In addition to having adaptations for the headphone jack, some come with dual adaptations for headphones and a charging port or other combinations of adaptors.