How to Connect Your iPhone to External Speakers

By Scott Shpak

The iPhone is a marvel of miniaturization, not only as a portable telephone but also as a personal organizer, camera and music system. It is possible to make your iPhone the heart of your home stereo system, storing your entire music collection within the device. Getting sound into the room can be done through a variety of ways.

Plug It In

The traditional way to connect an audio output device to speakers is by way of wires, and iPhones can be connected in this manner. The jack into which you plug your ear buds is a 3.5-millimeter stereo connector. Many powered speaker systems intended for use with smart phones or personal MP3 players connect with 3.5-mm cables. A cable adapter with a 3.5-mm plug to your iPhone and a pair of RCA-style connectors allows connection to an auxiliary input on a conventional stereo.

On the Docks

Early in the iPod and iPhone history, speaker docks were the elegant solution for sharing your music with the world. Apple moved from the 30-pin connector used with early iPhones to the new Lighting connector, which requires an adapter to work with speaker docks using 30-pin systems, sacrificing some elegance, though still providing a working connection. Docking stations can play music from your phone while simultaneously charging the battery, so you can enjoy your iPhone's playback without worrying about power connection or depletion.

Get Your AirPlay

Apple's AirPlay proprietary wireless connectivity system connects your iPhone to AirPlay-enabled speakers. AirPlay works with other Apple devices and a wide assortment of products from audio manufacturers such as Denon, B&W, JBL and iHome. You can even take advantage of the wireless convenience of AirPlay with older audio amps and speakers with the AirPort Express, an AirPlay receiving base that connects to speakers or receiver.

Long in the Bluetooth

Because AirPlay is proprietary technology, AirPlay products may be harder to find than those supporting Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth speakers work in much the same manner as AirPlay devices, although Bluetooth doesn't rely on Wi-Fi as AirPlay does. Bluetooth connection is limited to about 32 feet, while AirPlay connection is based on the range of your Wi-Fi, typically up to 65 feet, and further with range extenders. Bluetooth setup is easy through your iPhone's Control Center in iOS 7.