I'm switching from iPhone to the Nexus 4 (yay!) and I know that the Nexus 4 doesn't come with a headset. I also know that for simple audio playback, any stereo headset can be used -- but I also want to use the headset to:

  • adjust volume with in-cable +/- buttons,
  • start/stop music playback with in-cable middle button,
  • start/end calls with in-cable middle button,
  • telephony with in-cable microphone.

The Apple headsets provide these abilities on iPhone so I'm assuming that something similar would work on Android as well (and specifically on the Nexus 4).

I've tried connecting the Apple wired headset to a borrowed Nexus 4, but the in-cable buttons didn't work. I'm not really surprised because I assume that the buttons send coded signals that are proprietary.

How can I select a wired headset that is compatible with the Nexus 4?
I can't very well buy one and test it, buy another if it doesn't work right, and continue until I succeed.
Surely, there is a solution here that I have been too Apple-brainwashed to see?

Alternatively, if this isn't possible on a stock Android: Is there an add-on package to Android that catches the signals from an iPhone headset and sends appropriate commands to the system?

5 Answers 5


Summary from my comments, as requested, as an answer:

There are plenty of other headset controller apps on the playstore if you're worried about the permissions. I tried Jays once, but it only worked partially (in 9 out of 10 tries, I had no luck to adjust the volume -- instead, other actions were triggered, as e.g. pause/play).

Having a Philips headset, I tried Philips Headset -- and am quite satisfied: Volume control, play/pause/skip, accept/refuse/hangup call, all possible smoothly.

Most of the headset control apps want to make calls. As my device is rooted, I control such things with the LBE app: Neither Jays nor Philips Headset abused this privilege.

Most headset control apps seem to work with most headsets, more or less. As my example with Jays and a Philips headset shows, some features might not be available/working. But you cannot break anything trying. So I'd suggest to give it a try first: If one app doesn't work out, try another. If none works the way you need it, you still can go for another headset; having checked some of the control apps, you then already know which companies have a specific app. As said, my Philips headset works fine with the Philips app -- others reported the same for Jays. Reading the comments will give you more details and help you finding a good combination.


I use an Android specified Headset with 3-button for my Nexus. Works brilliant.

Not only does it deliver 3-button action, but also very good sound and a really hard hitting bass. Anyone enjoying Rock or Electronica will not stop listening ;-)

The headset is specifically made for Android's lower voltage spec from Google and will NOT work on an iphone (the way I like it).

3-button Android spec headset with flat cable Sabotage Royale from Degauss Labs

Webpage: http://www.degausslabs.com

Edit: 3-button headsets. I hope anyone reading this debate understands there are Android hardware spec headsets and iPhone hardware spec headsets. They dont change in hardware or technical specifications just because you start using some software app.. (Just make them more programmable).

So if you are an Android user you should use a 3-button Android spec headset. A 3-button iPhone headset will not work 100% (up down buttons etc) and most likely the mic dont do the proper job making whom you speak to hear you bad or "from far away" or "talking in a coke-can". There are 100 times more iPhone spec headset out there, dont ask me why.

  • 1
    I guess this got downvoted because it's a specific product recommendation? I upvoted because it's actually useful :-) Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 6:58

My initial research is confusing. Some say that this kind of commands just aren't available on Android. One source says that at least one product (Klipsch S4a (Android), £50-90) actually works as desired when also installing an application from the vendor.

As for add-on software to handle the in-cable buttons, HeadsetButton Controller (€2,29, free trial) seems to do the trick although I really don't understand why it needs to "read data about your contacts stored on your tablet, including the frequency with which you've called, emailed, or communicated in other ways with specific individuals."

With that add-on software, perhaps a cheaper headset could work just as fine (example).

  • There are plenty of other headset controller apps on the playstore if you're worried about the permissions. I tried Jays once (it wants to make calls oops), didn't work out for me. Having a Philips headset, I tried Philips Headset -- and am quite satisfied: Volume control, play/pause/skip, accept/refuse/hangup call, all possible smoothly. Permissions? Yeah, it wants to make calls. But in the past 6 months, it never did this on its own ;)
    – Izzy
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 17:05
  • @Izzy so you're saying that most apps work with most headsets? I had gotten the impression that most apps only work with a specific (set of) headset(s) that they've been specifically written for. Yes, on Android I'm a n00b :-) Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 18:07
  • More or less they do, yes. Specific ones work best, of course (like in my case the Philips app with a Philips headset). With Jays I had trouble adjusting the volume. But you can't break anything, so just try which one fits best with your headset.
    – Izzy
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 21:17
  • @Izzy - if you write that in an answer, I'll accept it! That would mean I could keep my iPhone headset and use a suitable app, which would be great. Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 21:48
  • Done :) As written: If no app works out with your current headset, you still can buy new hardware. But if you find a suitable combination, it will save you some bucks ;)
    – Izzy
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 22:13

When I switched over to Android I started looking for a three button headset compatible with my phone. I found that there are a couple of brands that do earphones for Android but you usually have to use an App to set the functions for button controls.

I love good sound in my ears and probably use my earphones 2-5 hours per day. I have tested a couple, I find many of the earphones lack durability and break quite easily.

Some recommendations below, all with three button control:

Nocs NS200 - Good sounding earphones. Comfortable. Lacking mids and bass is too impendent. However they broke. Three button function works well with button control App.

Bose MIE2i - Nice earphones is you're not into in-ear heaphones. Comfortable and good sounding. I think they are slightly overpriced..

Klipsch S4a II- Really well made earphones. Good sound and well balanced. Button control work well with App.

Degauss Dual Driver, the best pair of earphones I have owned so far. They sound like the equivalent to a couple of Shure earphones for 290EUR, but only cost 110EUR. The button control works well. I downloaded Degauss App. I have been using them for a couple of months. I found them in a store in Sweden. Think you can buy them from Degauss Labs website. Would like to try Sabotage Royale as well..

Maybe this post helps...

  • 1
    The question was asking how to choose, not for actual recommendations.
    – ale
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 16:30

If you are willing to sacrifice volume control feature, pretty much most of the stock headphones that come with android phones will work for you.

Long press, double press of the button are mere interpretation of software like the music player or the call manager. Hence you should get this feature natively or if not it can be supplemented by apps.

If volume control is badly needed, then the only option that I can think of is Bluetooth stereo headphones like Jabra BT3030, which can do all those you ask for.

I am not an audiophile and do not like heavy bass - just saying this because I recently purchased a headphone from LG service centre just for INR200 (about £3) and I am completely satisfied with its cost vs benefit ratio that it offered and of course had all the feature you ask for except volume control.

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