Why Apple Killed The Headphone Jack

Question

Q: Why is Apple getting rid of the headphone jack in the new iPhone?

Answer

This question was answered on September 7, 2016. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

With the unveiling of the iPhone 7, the usual chatter about the latest features seems to be dominated by this seemingly odd design decision.  

It would appear that Apple will eliminate the traditional 3.5mm analog headphone jack on all of its new devices in favor of the Lightning connector or their new proprietary wireless technology.

They actually aren’t the first smartphone maker to make this decision as Chinese manufacturer LeEco and the Moto Z line from Lenovo (formerly Motorola) have already eliminated the headphone jack.

The iPhone 7 will ship with Lightning earbuds and a special ‘dongle’ that converts the lighting connector at the bottom to a standard headphone jack so you can still use older headphones.

Better Audio
Apple wants to get away from analog technology that was created in the 1960’s and use a more advanced digital audio output.

The Lightning connector at the bottom of the phone is capable of providing more than just a way to charge the iPhone and digital audio is just one option.

While the new Lightning headphones are certainly capable of delivering higher fidelity audio, I’m not sure the average listener will hear the difference, especially if the quality of the audio file isn’t all that great.

Many companies, including Apple, are trying to roll out higher fidelity music services, so having higher fidelity headphones is a natural part of their strategy.

More Room Inside
Another benefit of getting rid of the headphone jack is that it frees up space inside the phone itself.  Space is extremely tight in all smartphones, so every millimeter counts, especially when it comes to something as large as a 3.5 mm headphone jack.

That extra space can be devoted to larger screens, bigger batteries, better antennas or a slimmer form factor.

The Wireless Future
We must remember that Apple was the first computer company to get rid of floppy disk drives and CD/DVD drives in their computers and in the name of innovation, the headphone jack had to go.

Unveiled along with the iPhone 7 were the new AirPod wireless earbuds, which uses proprietary wireless technology and will sell for $159.

Apple knew that relying on the current Bluetooth standard for wireless audio would be too problematic, so they chose to create their own wireless connectivity technology to make thing easier and more reliable.

3 Billion More Reasons
Many analysts scratched their heads when Apple agreed to pay $3 billion to acquire headphone maker Beats, but it’s now a little clearer how they plan to leverage that acquisition.

Whether you end up using Lightning headphones or the wireless earbuds, they’re both going to be more expensive than traditional headphones which plays right into Apple’s ‘premium products’ strategy.

Initial Concerns
Some of the initial concerns being voiced over this radical change include the inability to listen to music while charging the phone, owning headphones that only work on Apple devices, losing the special dongle or if you opt for the expensive wireless earbuds, losing them (they aren’t much bigger than traditional hearing aids) and having yet another thing to remember to recharge.

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on September 7, 2016