In Apple’s seemingly endless obsession with thinness, it’s probably fair to say that the existing headphone jack standard remains a thorn in Jony Ive’s side. For as much as Apple can ingeniously shrink down its devices to just a few millimeters, the 3.5mm headphone jack remains a fact of life that Apple must continue to engineer around.
Unless, of course, Apple comes up with a completely new headphone standard.
In a patent granted to Apple last week, Apple engineers detail a new and much slimmer headphone jack design that retains all of the functionality of today’s headphone standard while allowing for thinner product designs in the process.
The patent abstract, originally unearthed by AppleInsider, reads in part:
Electronic devices such as MP3 players and smart phones are continuously being designed to be thinner and smaller and/or to include video displays with screens that are pushed out as close to the outer edge of the devices as possible. The diameter and length of current 3.5 mm and even 2.5 mm audio connectors are limiting factors in making such devices smaller, thinner and allowing the displays to be larger.
The solution? A D-shaped headphone jack with a diameter of just 2.0mm, nearly 43% thinner than the current standard.
Of course, the million dollar question is if Apple would ever be so brazen as to introduce a new iPhone with a completely new headphone jack solely in the interest of making a thinner device.
If Apple ever went that route, you can imagine that there’d be a huge backlash from users who would suddenly find themselves with headphones that couldn’t work with Apple’s latest and greatest. Of course, Apple could come up with an adapter of some sort, but that’s still a somewhat clunky solution. And sure, Apple would obviously ship new headphones with every new iPhone, but Apple doesn’t exactly have a strong history of releasing comfortable and beloved headphones.
While Apple patents a million things under the sun that never see the light of day, we felt that this patent was worth highlighting because Apple, after all, is the same company that had absolutely no qualms about getting rid of floppy disk drive and optical drives, two design decisions that were somewhat controversial at the time they were made.
Still, it’s not as if users are clamoring for thinner iPhones. If anything, most surveys indicate that users would tolerate a little bit of extra thickness for improved battery life.