Since November, rumors about the iPhone 7 not having a 3.5mm port for connecting regular headphones has been spreading. Given the headphone jack has been around since 1964, it’s not surprising that there are some very mixed opinions as to whether it should be removed. With such a significant change looking increasingly likely, we determined what pros and cons there are to removing the headphone jack.
Slot your headphones into the headphone port and you’ll notice something. That socket goes in pretty deep. Imagine if it wasn’t needed, and Apple had the space to make the iPhone even thinner or, even better, use the extra room to increase the battery size. Apple could even increase the screen size without dramatically altering the device’s footprint. More room opens up a ton of potential.
How much thinner do you really need your phone to be? There are still issues with the iPhone 6s being bendable and the thinner it is, the more likely that’s only going to get worse. There’s a certain point, when making things smaller and thinner, that things begin to feel flimsy. When spending hundreds of dollars on a phone, you want to feel like you own an expensive device.
The removal of the 3.5mm port also means you could likely to be using Bluetooth to connect your headphones, and that’s going to use up battery life. Some rumors see Apple utilizing the lightning port, but if they decide to go completely wireless, you’ll need an improved battery for extended periods of time listening to music or podcasts.
Since early 2015, it’s been possible to buy Lighting headphones which connect via the iPhone’s Lightning connector. That’s brought with it numerous sound quality benefits. By using the Lightning port, headphones can draw power from the iPhone to boost audio quality. It’s possible to build internal DACs (digital to analog convertors) into the headphones, improving the sound quality significantly. Not many companies have embraced the technology yet, meaning that options are limited, but removing the 3.5mm port could be just the motivation that’s needed to ensure that such headphones are more commonly used.
The iPhone only has one Lightning port, which means you’ll have to choose between charging your phone or listening to audio through your headphones. For avid runners, that’s not an issue, but for those of us who want to be able to listen quietly at home, while still charging their device, it could be an issue. That’s assuming the iPhone 7 doesn’t incorporate wireless charging. It’s something that’s been requested frequently by fans, given that other phones such as the Samsung Galaxy range have offered wireless charging for years, but it’s yet to be implemented in an Apple device. Could this be the time for such a sweeping (and great) change? We can only hope.
The more obvious solution to the lack of a 3.5mm port is to buy Bluetooth enabled headphones. That’s presumably what Apple is counting on, given its recent acquisition of Beats, as well as its registering of the name AirPods. This could be the perfect time for wireless headphones to become the norm. A future in which your headphone cables don’t tangle themselves up in a convoluted knot, simply because you placed them in your pocket for two minutes, is a particularly bright sounding one to me.
Use an aux cable in your old car so that you can listen to music from your iPhone? You’re probably going to have to switch that out for a Bluetooth based device, or you’ll have to buy an (expensive) adapter that Apple is likely to develop for such needs. On a similar note, you won’t be able to go into a store and buy the cheapest headphones you can find because lightning headphones are very likely to cost more for a while, until they become the norm. Don’t expect to be able to use them with any other devices, either, meaning you’ll be tied into the iPhone way of doing things for a while to come.
A 3.5mm-less future should ensure superior audio quality for all iPhone 7 users, but as with any fundamental change, there are bound to be teething issues. Expect to be paying for them for a short time, while we all get accustomed to a future with one less port in our lives.