10 Things An Audiophile Should Know About The iPhone X

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The much-anticipated phone of the year – the iPhone X will be released on Nov 3rd, 2017. The pre-order begins on October 27 and experts are already predicting the phone to run out of stocks on the very first day.

Apart from the fancy features that iOS11 brings to mobile users, Apple had also integrated a slew of factors that will affect the way you experience music on the iPhone X. It is common knowledge that Apple has thrown their weight behind killing off the 3.5mm but what else should an audiophile like you know about the iPhone X?

Let’s find out.

1. Flac Support

What is Flac?

FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec. Just like its more famous cousin, the MP3, it’s a type of audio compression which stores audio data.

However, the big differentiator here is that the MP3 uses lossy compression technique. It discards a certain amount of audio information in order to save file size. What you get is an acceptable quality (depends on the compression ratio) audio file at a relatively small file size.

On the other hand, FLAC uses lossless compression. No audio data is removed, hence, no quality is affected. You can listen to every nuance that the recording artist had intended. However, as expected, the file size is huge and it’s not surprising to find FLAC files with size >100 MB.


It took Apple 11 iterations of iOS to finally support FLAC files. Audiophiles all over should be able to rejoice as their well-curated FLAC libraries can come into good use without another digital music player right?

Not really. Let’s talk about playback.

2. FLAC can only be playback in the File app

In iOS11, you get access to file directory within the iPhone X with a File app. Strangely, FLAC can only be played from this File app. Not even the official Music app.

However, there is a workaround. You will need to download third-party apps that support FLAC, like Plex or Vox which handle the transcoding themselves.

3. What is this “W1 Wireless chip”-enabled headphones that I keep hearing?

The W1 Wireless chip (W1 Chip) is a proprietary chip that is designed by Apple that is based on existing Bluetooth 4.1 technology.

Which headphones comes with the W1 chip?

Since the W1 chip belongs to Apple, only headphones by Apple or their close partners such as Beats have the chips installed.


Beats Solo3 Wireless

Beats PowerBeats3 Wireless


Beats Studio 3 Wireless

4. Is it better than Bluetooth?

Well if you are using iPhone X, then the answer is YES. Along with the Bluetooth 4.1 streaming and power management, the W1 Chip is specially tuned to work seamlessly with Apple devices.

Anyone who uses normal Bluetooth headphones will recognize the unstable connection between wireless headphones to the mobile phones and also the painful pairing process.

With the W1 chip, the synchronization is almost a one-touch process.

5. Must I only get headphones with W1 chips to work wirelessly on the iPhone X?

Of course not. You can still use Bluetooth-enabled headphones to work with the iPhone X but you will have to make do the manual pairing process.

6. Do my headphones with W1 Chip work on Android phones?

Yes. Just without the magic of the seamless pairing of devices. Wall-garden, baby.

7. Can I enjoy my FLAC files with headphones that have W1 chips?

Sadly, due to wireless transmission, Apple still does AAC audio transcoding which converts the lossless audio into a lossy one. So it’s kind of back to square one.

8. Screw this, I want to enjoy my FLAC with no interference

Yes, you can. All you need is a Lightning-enabled headphone. In this way, no audio transcoding is needed, hence, maintaining the lossless state.

Read our review of Audeze EL-8 Titanium – comes with a lightning connector

9. Erm, I do not want to buy another headphone. I just spent my salary on my endgame.

Of course, Apple has already calculated this move and had come out with a 3.5mm to lightning adapter.

How about listening to music and charging my phone at the same time?

We got you. This Baseus adapter allows you to do precisely this two things at the same time.

Listen to music and charge your phone at the same time

10. OPUS support

Apart from FLAC, the iPhone X will support the OPUS format too. An advantage of OPUS is its excellent audio quality achieved at low bitrates. Together with low latencies, OPUS is an excellent medium for music and speech transmission.

You will find the usage suitable for storage and streaming applications.

💬 Conversation: 12 comments

  1. The sound quality of the Apple Lightening-to-Headphone adaptor sounds like garbage because of the super cheap DAC they use. Tragic.

    1. Just buy an external DAC like AudioQuest Dragonfly or Chord Mojo along with the Lighting to USB A adapter and you should be good.

    2. In my experience It doesn’t. I A/B the phone DAC against burr brown and citrus logic, wolfson etc with little to negligible audible differences. From pioneer, to audio engine to McIntosh. The internal Dac holds its own.

  2. Here goes apple again with expensive hardware and ridiculous limitations; all proprietary to lock the consumer into a very limited array of accesories of apple-approved-only brands.If I were to name a brand that is NOT audiophile-friendly that would be apple.

  3. Does the IPhone X record HD video in FLAC audio? A colleague and I recently recorded the same music concert, where I recorded with a HD video camcorder and he recorded it with his new IPhone X. Many musicians agreed that his IPhoneX video clips were superior to those I recorded with my HD video camcorder. Now is it possible to upload the HD video from the IPhoneX with FLAC audio, can the video be uploaded to YouTube in the same FLAC audio quality?

    1. Are you using the default app, “Camera”? If so it is recorded in HEVC, which I believe is lossless. FLAC is for audio.

      Additionally, YouTube compresses all files so they have the room to store millions of videos. Anything uploaded to YouTube will be majorly compressed. If this is not to share publicly and you just want to link-share these videos to your friends, I’d recommend using OneDrive as they claim they do not compress.

      1. This is ancient I know, but HEVC absolutely isn’t lossless except in the gigantic file size all-intra lossless mode which is poorly supported, and if Apple were to include lossless video they’d be far more likely to use their ProRes RAW format. Likewise FLAC needs the whole file (or at least x amount of time in advance of the current position) in order to get good compression ratios. Nobody is using it for live camera recording. Sony’s high end hybrid video cameras just record audio as uncompressed PCM, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the size of even low-bitrate regular HEVC. You only get raw video out of most consumer level gear by hooking a recorder with NVME storage up to an HDMI output. Even if there was room to slot one into the camera somewhere there’s no way to get rid of the heat from writing very fast flash storage.

        Of course, you didn’t mention what kind of “HD Video Recorder” you were using, but most of those used godawful chroma subsampling and any given phone is probably 4k video, not HD.

  4. Avdshare Audio Converter supports to convert any FLAC file to any iPhone more supported ALAC, MP3, etc.

  5. iDealshare VideoGo, the professional FLAC to iPhone Converter, can fast and batch convert FLAC files to iPhone supported format.

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