Apple pulling plug on headphone jack
YOU may notice something familiar is missing from the next iPhone: a standard headphone jack.
With the iPhone 7, due out next year, Apple plans to remove the port, according to a report out of Japan. Instead of plugging headphones into a dedicated jack, users will connect them to the iPhone’s Lightning data port. The new smartphone will come with a pair of headphones that can plug directly into the port, but in order to plug in regular headphones, users will need a separate adapter, according to the report.
The headphone jack is thicker than the Lightning port, and the actual connector is almost twice as long. By removing the headphone jack, Apple could theoretically make its devices thinner and allocate more space to a display, batteries or other electronics. The move would also allow music and sound to be transmitted digitally from the device to the headphones, potentially improving fidelity.
The company made a similar move four years ago, when it replaced the 30-pin data port it had used with iPods and the first iPhones with the smaller, thinner Lightning connector. And earlier this year, Apple released the new Macbook, which replaces standard USB ports with a new, thinner, smaller USB-C port that doubles as the computer’s power connector.
A move to use the Lightning port for headphones could cause similar complications as that faced by Macbook owners. Eliminating the headphone jack would make the new phone incompatible with nearly all wired headsets on the market. If owners wanted to use their old headset, they’d need to purchase a separate dongle.
Meanwhile, by combining two or more functions — power and sound — into one port, the new design would make it difficult for users to connect the phone to two devices at the same time. iPhone users likely wouldn’t be able to charge their phones and use wired headphones at the same time, unless they purchased a separate adapter.
Not that kind of complication would likely bother Apple. The company has a long history of embracing new connection and input technologies and abandoning older ones without appearing to worry much about the consequences to its user base. The company was among the first to adopt USB, USB-C and Thunderbolt ports and among the first to ditch floppy and DVD drives and standard USB ports.