It’s been nearly six years since Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone. Yes, you can get excellent wireless earbuds nowadays, but maybe you prefer plugging in, or you just don’t want to think about charging your headphones. The joy of the 3.5-mm headphone connector is that it’s one of the few truly universal standards left.
You can use pretty much any pair of corded headphones—no need to worry about whether they’re Lightning or USB-C or whether the connectivity will blip in and out. No batteries to charge, no dongles to attach, no earbuds to lose. There are times when Bluetooth is preferable, but it’s also nice to at least have the option. After testing dozens of phones, these are the best options with the venerable port. Read our guides to the Best Android Phones and Best Cheap Phones for more recommendations.
Updated June 2022: We’ve overhauled this guide to replace old picks with new ones, like the Samsung Galaxy A13 5G, Sony Xperia 1 IV, and Moto G Stylus 5G 2022.
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Best OverallGoogle Pixel 5A 5G
Great performance, an OLED screen, nearly two-day battery life, and a dual-camera system that beats every other sub-$500 phone make the Pixel 5A (9/10, WIRED Recommends) the best smartphone for most people. It’s even IP67 water-resistant, so you don’t need to feel anxious using it near a pool. The well-loved headphone jack is here, and you can expect to stick with this phone for a bit—Google promises software support until August 2024.
The problem? It’s sold only in the US and Japan. There’s also no MicroSD card slot, so you’re stuck with the 128 gigabytes of internal storage (though you can pay more to store data in the cloud). Google has announced a successor—the Pixel 6A—but sadly it loses the headphone jack. The Pixel 5A will likely be the last Pixel with the trusty port.
A Rugged PhoneNokia XR20
Drop your phone frequently? If you’re reading this through cracked glass, you might consider the latest smartphone from HMD Global: the Nokia XR20 (7/10, WIRED Recommends). Its screen is protected by just about the strongest glass you’ll find on any Android phone, and the back is made of a tough polymer composite. I dropped it on the street three times, and it came out with only a few minor scuffs on the back. That doesn’t guarantee it won’t crack, but it helps! There’s a spot to attach a wrist strap if you want to be extra careful and keep your phone tethered.
It runs well and lasts a full day. Better yet, it has features like wireless charging, dual-SIM, a MicroSD card slot, IP68 water resistance, NFC for contactless payments, and three OS upgrades with four years of security updates. Oh, and the headphone jack. That’s a lot! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on Verizon, and 5G support doesn’t include AT&T (though LTE works just fine).
Best Budget PhoneSamsung Galaxy A13 5G
This 6.5-inch Samsung (7/10, WIRED Recommends) phone is a bit drab to look at, but it has performed exceptionally well despite its low price. The MediaTek Dimensity 700 chip inside has been crushing it—apps launch quickly, there are rarely any stutters, and even lightweight games like Pako Forever run smoothly. The 90-Hz refresh rate is a nice touch that makes every operation feel quite fluid, though the LCD screen is low-res and doesn’t get bright enough to comfortably read on sunny days. It might have three cameras on the back, but only the main camera is really usable; it offers decent daytime photos and passable low-light images (they’re on par with the $400 Moto G 5G).
The battery easily lasts more than a full day, and you get niceties like a MicroSD card slot, a reliable fingerprint scanner, NFC for contactless payments, and of course, the headphone jack. Most impressive is Samsung’s commitment to software updates. The Galaxy A13 5G will get two OS upgrades and four years of security patches—hard to find on a phone so cheap. Samsung confirmed that 5G connectivity will work on all major US carriers with the unlocked model.