Apple Will Kill the Headphone Jack
Apple will kill the 3.5mm audio jack someday. I don’t know if it will be on the iPhone 7, like some reports have speculated, but it will happen. This shouldn’t be surprising, as Apple is known for killing off old technologies in favor of newer tech.
The first pair of headphones to use an audio jack was invented in 1910 - over a century ago. The jack has virtually not changed since then. To think that a 100-year-old port will continue to be supported by the world’s leading tech company isn't realistic.
“But all of my current products use an audio port?! Apple would never make me buy all new headphones?!”
Yes, they will.
Apple has done things like this many times in the past. The first time they took away a major port was back in 1998, when they removed the floppy disc drive. No one thought they would take it away; everyone had all of their information saved on floppy discs. However, Apple opted for a better storage solution - the CD.
Then, in 2008, with the introduction of the MacBook Air, they took the CD drive away too and opted for an even better method of storage - online. No one knew what they were going to do without an optical CD drive - this was "too radical." News outlets said that no one would buy their computers without a CD drive - Apple was doomed! Fast-forward to 2015 and the majority of new laptops from Dell, Asus, HP, and Lenovo do not have CD drives.
Lastly, we will look at the Ethernet port. In 2008, again with the MacBook Air, Apple did not include an Ethernet port on the device, but instead opted for a wireless solution - Wi-Fi. Why have a cord dangling from one end of the room to the other when you can be connected wirelessly? There are many more examples, but these are just the main ones.
This is how it always happens. First, Apple takes away a legacy port and they get heat from consumers and the media for it, but within a few years, Apple’s competitors’ get rid of the same technology because they realize that there are better solutions than the outdated ports.
What is Apple going to replace the 3.5mm headphone jack with?
Bluetooth and the lightning port.
The same port you use to charge your phone, the lightning port, will be used for wired/corded headphones. Although, if you have to buy a new pair of headphones, most people will buy Bluetooth headphones, not wired ones.
Similar to Wi-Fi versus Ethernet; Ethernet is faster than Wi-Fi, however, most people sacrifice speed for the convenience of being wireless - these same people will do this for their headphones. Just like with Ethernet, wired headphones technically perform better compared to wireless headphones. Of course, there will still be audiophiles that want the best sound quality that they can get, and that’s why you will still be able to use wired headphones in the lightning port.
You will have two choices, more than likely. The first choice will be to buy a new pair of headphones that are Bluetooth and/or lightning compatible. The second choice will be to buy a 3.5mm-to-lightning adapter to plug your existing headphones into. This is another common thing that Apple does when they get rid of a legacy port; they make adaptors/dongles for users who, for whatever reason, need to use the old technology. They usually price these adaptors high ($30-$80) in order to discourage you from using the old technology. They did this with the first iPad, which didn’t come with any USB ports or SD card readers, and instead only used internal storage and iCloud. However, they understood that some users, such as photographers, would need to have the SD card reader for on-the-go exporting or editing, so they made a lightning-to-SD card adapter. Apple will make an equivalent adaptor for lightning-to-3.5mm. Very few people will actually end up using this adapter, but the option will exist, at a price.
What would the benefits be?
Internal performance and external aesthetics.
One benefit of Apple getting rid of the 3.5mm jack is that it saves on space inside the iPhone. This means that Apple will have more room to include other components such as a larger battery.
Externally, a thinner, lighter body wouldn’t be a surprise; Apple has done this for every generation of the iPhone. However, this is not the main reason for excluding the 3.5mm jack. For example, the new iPod Touch is thinner than the current iPhone 6s and still has a headphone jack, so Apple wouldn’t really have to get rid of the jack if thinness was their only objective.
If you still want to use your analog headphones, you will be able to do so.
If you want to use digital (lightning) headphones, you will be able to do so.
And, if you want to use Bluetooth headphones, you will be able to do so.
Getting rid of the headphone jack isn’t ideal for everyone, but it is for the majority of users and the future of the iPhone. Just like the floppy disc drive, CD drive, and Ethernet port, we will look back on this decision and realize it was the right one and worth the temporary annoyance.