The Ethernet Connected iPhone

If you looked into my kitchen drawers you’d learn a lot about me.    imageOften I can be found just staring at the cables and connectors stuffed in there.  I stand there, working out what cables can be linked together.  Sometimes I know what I want the end result to be and, at other times, I don’t and end up just plugging stuff together.  Some of it works, some blows up.

I saw a blog talking about a new camera adapter for iPads.  It was powered (it had a socket for a lightning cable that could be plugged into a usb charger).  One word leapt out of the blog – “ETHERNET”.  For five years I’ve been hunting for a way to plug an iPhone into an ethernet cable – not, as many might suspect, because I was after a FASTER internet connection but because the quality of the connection it could offer would be vastly superior to wifi.  The truth is that most wifi is rubbish – it’s contested, it’s congested, it often, simply, doesn’t work.  I’d much rather rely on 3G/4G for the work that I do (until someone walks past streaming stuff on their phone and blows my speed out of the water).

A lot of the time I need a smooth connection, free of stutters and glitches, to broadcast over.  If there are huge movements in speed it affects the way the programs I use operate.  3G/4G might be slower but they’re smoother.  The programs- or apps – I use depend on smoothness (even more than speed) and so the aim has always been to work out a way to get an iPhone hard-wired into the internet.

There are many fools in the world of broadcasting.  They fall off air a couple of times and lose faith in the apps they use – not realising that it’s their own failings that led to them dropping off.  I’m tired of telling people to speed test before they go live.  I’m also tired of defending apps that haven’t moved with the times and can’t be bothered to build in live adaptive technology that models the broadcast data rate according to the speed available.  I’d rather have a bit of pixelation or lower quality audio than a drop off.  The weak link in the chain is always the connection to the internet.  Which is what got me thinking…

Years ago, it was obvious that that if you could hard wire a phone onto the internet you had a much better chance of broadcasting – either in audio or video – successfully.  Until iOS 9.3 it wasn’t possible but now it is.  So let’s get straight to work:

The easiest option is also the cheapest.  IMG_2411

Lightning to ethernet total cost £22-£51:  You need two cables – a lightning to USB adapter and a USB to ethernet adapter.  For £25 you can buy the lightning to USB adapter and for a further £5.99 you can buy the USB to Ethernet adapter.  Mine was from Amazon – but it’s more than likely that any will work as long as it’s a fairly decent one.  If you really want to spend a bit more (for no particular reason) you could buy the Apple USB to Ethernet adapter for £25 (looks as though Apple is phasing it out.. either because they aren’t selling any or because they’ve realised they’ve been charging four times as much as necessary and have realised that it was morally indefensible).

The (possibly) more expensive version – which gives you more options – is this:


Lightning to Ethernet & USB hub total cost £48.

The Lightning to USB 3 camera adapter plus an Ethernet to USB Hub allows you to plug in digital mics or headsets as well as an ethernet cable.  Because you’re using your lightning socket this is the only way you could get a digital mic input working.  BUT you HAVE to power the lightning to USB 3 adapter – even if you’re only using the ethernet socket..because the USB sockets require 5v.  So you have to factor in a battery pack or PSU plus a lightning to USB cable (as shown in the pic above).

Then you have a few complications and caveats.

  1.  Using a micro USB to ethernet adapter plus an Apple lightning to USB adapter does NOT work.  Don’t bother trying it.  I did.
  2. The Lightning to USB 3 adapter plus a simple USB to Ethernet adapter DOES work (and, to my mind, this is the best kit to go for – because it gives you the option of creating a simple connection AND gives you the opportunity to buy the USB/ethernet hub at a later date).

So – does it work and is it worth buying?  Yes if you ever need to get on the internet (for broadcast or otherwise) and can’t get wifi but can get access to the back of someone’s router.  I’ve already used it in a bar where I needed to broadcast from.  I just plugged an ethernet cable into the back of the router and ran the wire to where I wanted to broadcast from.

UPDATE: I’ve tested the hub out with an iRig Mic HD (a USB mic) and it works when plugged into the USB hub – allowing you to have an external mic and a hard wired broadcast solution.  Headphones plug into the usual socket on the iPhone.

There are always issues:

  1. I’m not sure how you get past log in screens in hotels
  2. You can get overwhelmed by the number of cables
  3. You’ll have to experiment the order in which you plug in the cables.  Sometimes you need to plug the lightning in first.. or is it the USB hub?  Practice and see what works for you.
  4. Don’t panic when you put your phone into Airplane mode and it throws up a warning that you need to turn OFF Airplane mode to connect to the internet.  Just tap ok and refresh and it should work.
  5. Don’t blame me if your set up doesn’t work.  Don’t go buying gear from shops or websites you can’t return stuff to if it doesn’t work out for you.


8 thoughts on “The Ethernet Connected iPhone

  1. This is a great post Nick. Really appreciate the depth. I’ve been using ethernet for my iOS devices for well over a year now, and recently moved to the Apple Camera Connection Kit USB 3 from the messier hub option the was the only option before Apple released this. Great to see I can use an external power bank – I hadn’t thought of that.

    Interestingly, iOS 10 now has a designated Ethernet option under Settings, but it is obviously not finished as tapping it reveals a blank screen. Mostly I love the ethernet solution, but Apple prevents iMessages and Apple Music from working over the wired connection, which baffles and annoys me. My Google Nexus 6p on the other hand doesn’t block any functionality, so kudos to Android there. Sony also support native ethernet connections out of the box, but sadly Samsung do not enable this functionality on their devices.

  2. Hi, I just bought the dongles (all apply: USB to Ethernet, Camera adaptor, 12w Power adaptor) needed and tried but it didn’t work. Can you check yours if it’s still working? Which IOS are you using?

    1. I haven’t tried it on iOS 11 yet – I will do – but I had it working on iOS 10. Try changing the order in which you plug things in – Apple’s a real pain when it comes to that – I’ll try and play around with it and get back to you.

  3. iOS 11 works but doesn’t seem to be as reliable as 10.whatever-the-last.version-was. I’m yet to compare 11.0.1. It’ll happen this week though.

    1. It’s working again in iOS 11 – I’ll write an update to the page when I get a minute… just testing out some new bits and pieces that work with it.. thanks

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