Problem: You like the inline remote and microphone functions built into the headphones that come with the iPhone, but if you want to use another pair of headphones, you lose that functionality. Solution 1: Ditch your current headphones for another set with built-in controls and a mic. Solution 2: Keep your current headphones and find an adapter.
Over the past couple years, I've spent far more time using Apple's pack-in headphones than I might have otherwise, simply because the inline remote functions are so useful. Meanwhile, my all-time favorite set of earphones, the Shure E2c, gathered dust unless I was doing something like mowing the lawn or working out at the gym. The sound I get from my Shures is vastly superior to the pack-in headphones, but pulling my iPhone out of my pocket to control music, answer phone calls or adjust the volume isn't always convenient.
I'd been eyeing up some headphones with built-in inline remotes, like the Shure SE115m+ and the Ultimate Ears 300vi, but it seemed like a waste to get a whole new set of earphones when my E2cs still worked perfectly otherwise. I started looking at some of the inline adapter solutions available. Most of these third-party adapters came out after the third-gen iPod shuffle debuted with no controls on the shuffle itself, and for the most part, they're relatively inexpensive. But they also come with some pretty serious tradeoffs.
At first I looked at an adapter from Shure itself, the MPA-3C, but at US$75 on Amazon, it's extremely expensive compared to other solutions. It also doesn't appear to support all the functions that newer inline remotes offer, like volume control. The Monster iSoniTalk adapter came out around the same time and is far less expensive, but it wasn't clear from the product description if it supported more functions than the Shure adapter or not, like VoiceOver or track skipping.
Next, I checked out an adapter from iLuv. While the price is certainly right (six bucks as of this writing), lots of people said this adapter breaks relatively easily. Not only that, but the adapter itself is extremely short, with only a few inches of cord leading from the remote. For an iPod shuffle or nano this probably isn't a big deal since you can wear those anywhere you want, but your iPhone probably lives way down in your pants pocket; a remote that's only a couple inches away from the phone itself isn't much of a solution. This adapter also doesn't have a microphone, making it far less useful.
Belkin offers a similar inline remote adapter for around the same price, but it also lacks a microphone, and its cords appear even shorter than the iLuv adapter. This adapter has very poor reviews on Amazon due to its lack of durability, so while it was a relatively cheap solution, the thought of it breaking after a few months wasn't particularly appealing.
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