It didn’t come as a surprise on the 7th September 2016 when Apple announced that it was removing the 3.5mm headphone jack from the new iPhone 7. It was a long awaited rumor but that hasn’t stopped a widespread internet backlash.
Not Able to Charge
The main complaint was the inability to charge the phone whilst listening to lightening or 3.5mm headphone jack headphones. Following the announcement this is still a concern for many. Apples Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller doesn’t believe this is an issue and says you can buy the lightening dock that allows you to listen to music whilst charging.
Looking at the picture below from the Apple Store, this doesn’t solve it Phil, what if I have lightening headphones? That solution puts you in no better position unless you have 3.5mm headphone jack headphones. Not to mention it’s a £39 ($49) solution to something that could surely be solved with a Lightening to 3.5mm headphone jack/lightening charging port combo.
Death of the 3.5mm Headphone Jack
Despite these issues, the reasoning for removing the 3.5mm headphone jack itself is a valid one. The 3.5mm headphone jack first came to service with the Sony EFM-117J radio which was released in 1964 and became very popular with the release of the Walkman in 1979. That’s a whopping 52years old! It’s an old single use technology that takes up valuable room in an iPhone enclosure whilst we, as customers, demand better battery life, waterproofing and better speakers. Why sacrifice all those benefits including cost for a port that serves a single function?
The Future of Audio and Other Connectors
There is a lot of focus on the iPhone 7 and lack of headphone jack, I’m sure others will now follow Apple since they have been brave enough to go out in front.
An interesting thing to consider is what the Airlines will do in response. Consumers will rapidly adopt wireless headphones and lightening enabled ones. So far there is not lightening to 3.5mm headphone jack adaptor. Will the airlines install lightening ports, go wireless or provide lightening to 3.5mm flight adaptors to avoid customer disappointment?
I don’t think this will be the end to port removal, the lightening connector will be next. With the proliferation of wireless charging and wireless headphones this will be another port that Apple can remove to reduce costs, decrease complexity, increase case space and increase waterproof capabilities.
Apple has always been at the forefront of change, whether that’s removal of the floppy drive or DVD drive, they have always been one or two steps ahead of where we know we want to be. Long may that continue!