Review: Griffin’s SmartTalk HeadPhone Adapter for iPhone - Macenstein

Review: Griffin’s SmartTalk HeadPhone Adapter for iPhone

Griffin SmartTalk

Replacing the headset on an iPhone is a little trickier than on an iPod. While an iPod will accept any headset you may be partial to, the iPhone’s recessed jack and microphone/remote limit replacement choices. While more and more companies are beginning to offer replacement iPhone headsets, in general these are high-quality (and high cost) models. Spending $100-$300 on headphones that will only fit in an iPhone is not something most people are looking forward to doing. In fact, iPhone users are faced with the rare scenario where users looking to replace a busted set of iPhone earbuds are finding Apple is actually offering one of the more competitively priced iPhone accessories on the market. Unfortunately, that $29 set from Apple isn’t necessarily the best-sounding headset you’re likely to find.

Many people making the transition from iPod to iPhone may already have a set of great sounding SHURE or V-MODA ear buds they’d like to use, but without the remote and microphone they’re forced to use the iPhone’s built-in speakers and mics to make calls, and neither of those is going to win awards (especially the speakerphone). Griffin has acknowledged and attempted to fix this problem with their SmartTalk Headphone adapter.

How’d they do?

Pretty good, actually. The SmartTalk looks quite nice, with a 32-inch fabric cord ending at a clip-on microphone/remote capable of accepting any standard set of headphones. The remote works well, and you can accept or deny incoming calls, as well as pause and skip tracks just as with the Apple earbud remote.

Griffin SmartTalk
Above: For a somewhat surreal phone conversation, try hooking your favorite noise-canceling headphones to the SmartTalk.

Obviously the biggest benefit to using the SmartTalk is being able to use your choice of headset. It’s actually a somewhat bizarre sensation, but you can even use your favorite noise canceling headphones for an incredibly clear call experience. This would work great for commuters on noisy trains or buses who are having trouble hearing calls clearly.

While the SmartTalk works well for its intended purpose, a nice side benefit to this cable is that it can be used to hook your iPhone up to additional audio sources, such as a a car audio system or home stereo, assuming you have a standard 3.5mm audio cable handy. I like the pliable cloth cable as opposed to some other rubber iPhone adapters that convert the iPhone’s jack to a standard 3.5mm.

Griffin SmartTalk

What’s wrong

While call quality and audio quality is good, I noticed that the audio level is a bit lower than on the iPhone’s standard headset, both in speaking and listening volumes. Nothing horrible, but it is noticeably lower.

However the SmartTalk’s real problem lies in its design. In most cases you will be hooking a standard headphone to the SmartTalk, which means that in order to keep the clip-on microphone at collar height, you will have to find something to do with the extra 3 feet or so of cord coming off your headphones. If you have any left over twist-ties, you can obviously rig something up, but that looks about as cool as a Zune Phone. Other adapter makers took the approach of adding a microphone closer to the iPhone itself as opposed to high on the cord like the SmartTalk, but while that may eliminate excess cord-dangling, I’m not sure the distant mic/remote placement makes all that much sense. Between the two options I would still probably choose the SmartTalk’s approach over those, but unfortunately, unless you are using a set of headphones with an exceptionally short cord, odds are the SmartTalk would be too annoying for daily use.


If the SmartTalk was a little smarter and could have thought of a way to manage the headset’s cord a bit better, this would have rated much higher as it is an otherwise well designed and nice looking adapter. As it stands now it is a very decent yet somewhat clunky approach to achieving a better sounding iPhone experience. While the SmartTalk looks nice and works well, the unruly dangling headphone cord just looks a little too silly really recommend. If you don’t plan on making a lot of calls (at least in public) the SmartTalk works well as a headphone extender/converter allowing you to use any standard headset with your iPhone. However, if you are looking to find a replacement set of iPhone headphones with mic/remote capabilities for daily use, you’ll likely be disappointed. Still, it isn’t a bad backup accessory to keep around for times when you lose or break your iPhone headset.

Price: $20

Pros: Works as advertised, looks nice, cloth cord, can be used to hook an iPhone to car and home audio systems with an additional audio cable.

Cons: No way to manage the cord of your headset causing you to look a bit silly. Audio levels are slightly lower.

18 Responses to “Review: Griffin’s SmartTalk HeadPhone Adapter for iPhone”
  1. Brian says:

    Let’s just hope the Next Iphone does NOT have a Recessed 3.5mm Jack for headphones. I would hope apple would change this. It’s annoying to have a sleek device then add a stupid extension then a pair of headphones…Apple are you listening…

  2. markus says:

    Makes me wonder if this would work on an iPod Touch making VoIP possible.

  3. photon says:

    “Spending $100-$300 on headphones that will only fit in an iPhone”


  4. Ray says:

    Is that a case they’ve got on there or was it just painted that way?

  5. Carson says:

    I bought the sony mdr-ex700, it has a very short cord. 12″ I think. Solved the goofy cord issue you mentioned. Sony made it with a extension cable, which I replaced w/ the griffin smart talk. Worked perfectly. Dunno why Sony designed them this way, but it worked out great! They sound great too boot!

  6. Carson says:

    1 more note, the ex700’s solved the volume issue also. They are much louder than the original iphone headsets.

  7. Alan says:

    hmmm…all the complainig about the iphone headset…. works very nice for me…just add the black rubber buds to them….

  8. Hunter says:

    If you use new Shure headphones they have an extension cable that plugs into the short headphone cable. I just use my griffin to replace that. Cable stays the same length. Shure looks like they actually thought about that with their new headphones

  9. pez says:

    I am pretty sure that is a painted one… the chromo edge is black… has to be a colorware paint job. Looks great!!

  10. MfS says:

    Read a similar review on this product over at iLounge…which is why I went with Monster’s iSoniTalk instead.

    The microphone/remote is combined like the Griffin, but it’s on a separate cord with tiny clips that you clip to your headphone/ear bud cord (the plug for your headphones is at the iPhone jack, thus just one long cord from your headphones instead of two long cords, one for your headphones and one for the mic/remote like the Griffin).

    Highly recommend the iSoniTalk. Sound quality on phone calls is great, remote easy to find.

  11. Alan says:

    What case is that?

  12. Jason says:

    I’m not really sure if that’s a case or if it’s a paint job, but it looks like the Apple logo is sunken in a bit on the first picture as well as the back of the phone having a smooth and glossy look to the lower half which makes me think it’s a case. Does anyone have any clue as to whether it’s a case? And if it is, who makes it and where can I buy one!?

  13. Hey guys. It’s ColorWare paint job. See my review here.
    -The Doc

  14. kwiz says:

    I have gone through both the monster i sonic and now the griffin i-talk.

    First let’s start with the Monster, outgoing call quality may be better that the Griffin but it has a huge and fatal flaw, and that is the dongle itself. The Monster has a huge connector, which at first may not seem like a big deal, but it acts like a lever when put it into your pants pocket. It will definitely remove your headphone jack from the iphone circuit board, it in fact did so in less than a week after purchase. (Thank you Apple Store SF. for letting me upgrade to 16gb as I returned my broken phone) This is just through normal use, I was even pretty cautious as I just bought the phone, if you put the phone in your shirt pocket that may help, but ultimately even that will lead failure.

    Now lets move on to the Griffin. They took a different route. With this you plug your headphones into the top of the cable which makes for a much lower profile at the phone itself, but as noted adds that length to your current headphone cord. I am lucky to have fairly new headphones that allow for replaceable cords ( Bose OnEar if you are interested.) so the Griffin just replaces that which is pretty sweet. Now the bad news. The cord on the Griffin has a vinyl cover which seems to be the rage these days. I am not sure why however as in my exierience they blow. The problem is that the material is relatively stiff and now the cable is failing at the connector (hey at least its not my phone this time). So long story short avoid the Monster at all costs, and if you can manage to not trip over the Griffin’s cord maybe buy 2 at a time as the crappy cord materials make it disposable at best.

    Can I please get a decent solution? One with full functionality ( I am looking at you Bose). The i-phone is awesome it amazes me that noone can figure out the friggin cord though.

  15. Jay says:

    The Griffin smart talk works perfectly with my Panasonic (SLIMZ) RP-HX70 head sets. The cord retracts into the ear piece and you can customize the length of cord that you need.

    Sound quality is better than the standard Apple ones. I really tried to notice a difference in sound quality/power/fullness/volume but could not notice one. Perhaps its because I am not an audiophile. I do like crsip and full sound rather than lound and distorting…I feel that I can get decent performance out of this headset. Excellent value!

    Its like a cheap version of Bose’s on ear iPhone headset. 90% cheaper actually.

  16. Derrick mason says:

    How is the phone green is it a cover ?let me know and were can get one thank you

  17. Matt Cole says:

    Bought a Smart Talk 3 weeks ago. The build quality is so bad and the cloth cord covering so inappropriately flimsy for every day use that 3 weeks later the damn thing is broken.

    Also bought their iTrip Autopilot at the same time. That has never worked because the transmission signal is so weak.

    Basically it’s all junk. Don’t go near Griffin’s stuff.

  18. Jim says:

    Still no ideal solution for those of us wanting our own headphones with a mic adaptor on an iphone or touch?!!! …? why

Leave A Comment


Click here to inquire about making a fortune by advertising your game, gadget, or site on Macenstein.