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Apple said to be dropping headphone jack from iPhone

iPhone6s and plus

Mobile device giant Apple will no longer be including the standard 3.5 mm headphone jack in future iterations of the iPhone, according to sources of the WSJ.

This doesn’t mean a move exclusively to Bluetooth headphones, however, as the rumour is that iPhone users will instead use the same Lightning port that they currently for charging and data transfer. However, some in the gadget media are less than keen.

An opinion piece written by the Editor in Chief of tech site The Verge, which has historically been mostly approving of Apple innovations, doesn’t pull its punches. “Taking the headphone jack off phones is user-hostile and stupid,” declares the headline, before adding “Have some dignity”.

The author is actually venting about the broader underlying trend towards ditching the headphone jack, not just Apple, but the WSJ story seems to have moved him to make his feelings known. Among his objections are: moving from analogue to digital opens the door to DRM on audio, which will limit the number of devices you can consume your audio through.

That was the big one but he also points out that the user experience with Bluetooth remains far from ideal, that reducing the number of built-in ports increases the need for cumbersome dongles, that making Android and iPhone headphones incompatible is bad, and lastly: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

On the other side of the fence is Apple loyalist site Daring Fireball, which takes issue with The Verge and points out that Apple has a strong track record of moving away from obsolete technologies such as floppy and disk drives. It infers that the removal of the 3.5 mm jack is inevitable and that Apple has always looked to anticipate obsolescence rather than waiting for it.

Other than this the essence of the WSJ leak is that the 2016 iPhones will be pretty much the same as the 2015 ones. The removal of the headphone jack will enable a further increment of thinness, which seems to be prized almost as much in smartphones as it is in fashion, but that’s about it. The piece observes that this is a break from the tradition of introducing a major design overhaul every two years and sets the stage for a big one in 2017. If that’s the case this could be a disappointing year for iPhone sales.

In our view there’s no question that wireless headphones are preferable. There’s no wire to get tangled up, to flap in your face while exercising, or to yank them out of your ear when you turn your head. However Bluetooth remains a work in progress as a user experience and the DRM issue is a concern. Ultimately nobody like to have choice taken away from them, but Apple has a history of doing just that and ultimately being rewarded for it, so there’s little reason to believe it will change now.

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One comment

  1. Sound Guy 27/07/2016 @ 3:12 pm

    5 years ago, when I bought my first smartphone – I knew that someday that is what they gonna do. I don’t like that idea at all. I am using expensive hi fi earphones and don’t want to use any adapters.

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