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This is why it’s so great that the iPhone 7 is killing off the headphone jack

Zach Epstein
September 1st, 2016 at 1:42 PM
iPhone 7 Rumors

Apple’s new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be packed full of all sorts of technology when they debut next week. They’ll sport brand new cameras that should be among the best in the world, and they’ll pack new Apple A10 processors that will undoubtedly blow away the competition. But as the rumor mill heats up ahead of next week’s announcement, attention still isn’t focused on all of the great new features Apple’s next-generation iPhones will usher in. Instead, everyone is fixed on two “problems” with Apple’s iPhone 7 lineup.

The first issue is the design, which many people complain looks too much like Apple’s previous two generations of iPhones. That’s a valid complaint, though we would counter that a familiar design hardly means the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are going to be boring. The second issue is the lack of a standard headphone jack, but there’s a silver lining there as well.

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Apple has made no announcements at this point so absolutely nothing is confirmed when it comes to the company’s next-generation iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. That said, the new phones aren’t going to have 3.5mm headphone jacks. We’d bet he barn on it.

For many users, that change means they can no longer simply plug their standard headphones into the iPhone. Is that a big deal? Well, it would be if Apple didn’t plan to include a 3.5mm to Lightning adapter right in the box with its new iPhones. But since there is an adapter there, this is a non-story. The same headphones you’re using right now will connect to your iPhone 7 later this month, just like they connect to your iPhone 6s or 6s Plus right now.

So what’s so great about Apple’s move to ditch the headphone jack? Aside from a thinner design, better water-resistance and a step toward a future iPhone with no ports at all, people who decide to upgrade and purchase new Lightning headphones will enjoy much higher-quality sound. And beyond that, Apple’s move is pushing other companies to embrace the Lightning connector, which means they can improve their products as a result.

Here’s a perfect example: Check out these noise cancelling earbuds from Bose. They’re fantastic and they actively cancel noise rather than just isolate sound like regular earbuds. But there’s an obvious downside: using these headphones means you have yet another device to worry about charging. Since they use active noise cancellation, they need to be powered.

Now take a look at the new Q Adapt In-Ear Earbuds announced on Thursday by Libratone. They also offer active noise cancellation so they also require power, but you’ll never have to charge them even once. Why? Because they draw power from a connected iPhone, iPad or iPod touch through the Lightning port.

Apple has been using a Lightning connector for years now on its iOS devices, but we’re about to see an influx of great new audio products that are improved by the utilization of Apple’s digital Lightning connector. Why now? That’s right, it’s because the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus won’t have 3.5mm audio ports.

Sure there are drawbacks — using Lightning headphones instead of older headphones means you can only connect them to Apple devices. But for many, the benefits will outweigh the downsides; keeping your old headphones around to use on airplanes when you travel isn’t really such a big deal, is it?

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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