What is an iPhone External Microphone and What Can You Use it for?

February 11, 2021 3 min read

iPhone External Microphones and What Can You Use it for? | Movo Photo

Movo sells a wide range of microphones, including those for iPhone and other smartphone brands. But why exactly is it important to use one of these external microphones when your phone is already capable of recording audio on its own? Which iPhone external microphone is right for you? What are the tradeoffs that come with each?

This handy guide is here to answer these questions, as well as explain the multitude of reasons why an iPhone external microphone is a must-have for anyone trying to shoot a video with their Apple smart device.

What is an External Microphone?

To start with the obvious, yes, all iPhones have built-in microphones. The mics that capture audio while shooting videos are the same ones that transmit your voice during phone calls or receive instructions for voice-activated features like Siri. 

However, since these microphones were chiefly designed to capture a single subject speaking from close proximity, they aren’t ideal for recording clear audio outdoors, at a distance, or in loud environments. While the built-in iPhone microphone is good for most day-to-day functions, it isn’t ideal for capturing professional-sounding audio for videos or podcasts.

This is where external microphones come in. As their name suggests, these mics are mounted externally onto your iPhone, rather than being installed internally at the factory. While plugging in an external mic adds bulk to your phone’s profile, the tradeoff is that you can record better audio for a variety of purposes.

Shotgun Microphones

Shotgun microphones, like the Movo VXR10, use cardioid polar patterns to pick up sound wherever you point the mic. While directional audio is more clear and accurate than your iPhone’s built in microphone, an additional benefit is that background noise is cancelled out by these mics, making them great for use in loud environments.

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Lightning Adapters

While older iPhone models utilized traditional 3.5mm headphone ports, the iPhone 7 and newer models have eschewed these inputs in favor of Bluetooth and Lightning connections. While this would seem to make external microphones like the VXR10, which rely on 3.5mm connectivity, obsolete, there are workarounds for this problem.

The Movo IMA-1 adapter, for instance, enables compatibility between your iPhone and external microphones that use 3.5mm TRRS jacks. The cable plugs into your iPhone’s Lightning port, while your microphone plugs into the attached TRRS jack. With the adapter set up, you can now use external mics with iPhone models that wouldn’t otherwise support them.

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Lavalier Microphone

Another approach to capturing audio is the lavalier microphone. This external microphone clips directly to clothing of your subject, capturing just their speech. Lav mics are great for voiceovers, dialogue, and live presentations. The Movo iLav, a lavalier microphone for iPhone, plugs directly into the Lightning port, meaning you won’t require an adapter to use it either.

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For those looking to capture two speakers, the iLav-DUO comes with a second microphone attached to the same cable, allowing you to record podcasts and interviews with ease. Like the iLav, the iLav-DUO plugs directly into your iPhone’s Lightning port and is compatible with various audio capture apps, meaning you can start recording a conversation in seconds.

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Recording With iPhone and Other Devices

When shooting a video with an iPhone with a dedicated external iPhone microphone, you’ll probably also want some additional accessories to further enhance the quality of your creation. Handheld stabilizers are especially important for keeping a steady frame with the added weight of the microphone, and LED lights can help greatly when filming in darker locations.

And just because you have a microphone for iPhone doesn’t mean you’re stuck shooting with your phone; all of Movo’s iPhone external microphones are also compatible with any other iOS device that utilizes a Lightning port, such as the iPad. Additionally, Movo also has a range of USB-C external microphones that are compatible with Android smartphones and devices.

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