The iPhone 7 will lack a 3.5mm audio jack that would be compatible with existing wired headphones, most rumors claim. Consequently, many people are already angry at Apple for looking to kill the port, even if most of them already know this is precisely the kind of move Apple is known for. But if Apple is killing the headphone jack, what will replace it?
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Erik Person imagined several solutions Apple might be considering, including wired and wireless headphones.
If Apple is making wired EarPods for the iPhone 7, then we might be looking at Lightning-only headphones, Person writes. That’s in spite of the fact that they’ll only be compatible with the iPhone 7 initially. If the next-gen Macs ship with a female Lightning port, they’d also be compatible with the new headphones.
But that would mean most users would have to buy new dongles to use the headphones on all non-Apple devices with 3.5mm headphone ports.
Apple could also ship a Lightning female-female adapter in the iPhone box, the same one it uses for the Apple Pencil (image above). If that’s the case, you’d be able to use the Lighting headphones with any computer via USB. But the whole thing sounds messy.
If Apple is going the wireless route – and there are patents to suggest that wireless EarPods might be in the works – then it needs to fix to some problems: Charging the headphones, and pairing/unpairing them to iPhones and other devices with ease.
With a male Lightning plug like the one your iPhone cable uses, you’d be able to both recharge the wireless EarPods and pair them with the iPhone – which should be Apple’s main concern, according to Person. A female-female lightning adapter would be required to use them with anything else, however.
With a female Lightning port (like the iPhone’s), the wireless EarPods could be charged directly from the wall or a computer. A male-male cable could be used to pair the headphones to a device, but also to turn them into wired EarPods.
The most unlikely solution would be using both a female and male connection for the wireless EarPods, which would let you charge and/or pair them without requiring cables or adapters.
Finally, there’s always wireless charging for the wireless headphones, although it’s unclear how this would work and how pairing the headphones with an iPhone or Mac is done.
These are all ideas Person is fronting, but nothing is official. One rumor says Apple will continue to ship regular EarPods with the iPhone 7, but also add a 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter that would let you connect them to the new phone. Person isn’t even considering this option, though this might be the kind of compromise Apple would have to make so that iPhone 7 buyers could still use new EarPods with any other device that features a 3.5mm jack.