Although the iPhone 7 has a lot of things going for it, it will probably go down in history as the iPhone that killed the 3.5 mm headphone jack. While it was something that almost all had foreseen months away, many refused to believe Apple would pull something so bold, almost heretical, until the very last-minute. Some called it hubris. Apple called it “courage”, which is now, apparently, a meme. For Apple executives, it was nothing but natural evolution that would eventually happen. It just so happened that Apple and the iPhone 7 is setting things in motion.
It is almost in stark contrast to the LG V20, whose improved acoustics implicitly depend on quality wired earpieces. Both, however, are trying to make the same spiel about audio. The difference is that, for Apple, the future is wireless. Or at least the future of audio. That might almost be hard to believe, coming from a company whose iPhones to date lack any built-in wireless charging capabilities. Still, the ubiquity of music streaming services seem to support Apple’s claim. Then again, wireless streaming over the Internet might not exactly be the same thing as wirelessly streaming from iPhone to AirPods.
The 3.5 mm headphone jack really just had the bad luck of being the least important component inside the iPhone, an admittedly strange statement coming from the company that invented the iPod and killed the Walkman. But that was yesteryear’s Apple. Its cash cow now is the iPhone, and as far as smartphones go, users want more display, more battery, and more photos.
Not that Apple doesn’t care about audio anymore. It just believes that it has something better to offer. Calling it a dinosaur, Apple describes the headphone jack as a decades-old technology that has never changed. It would have died eventually, sooner or later. Apple just wants it to be sooner. There are those that fear that Apple is ultimately trying to push its own proprietary, patent-encumbered, DRM-friendly connector over one that has no patents and is open to all. Apple naturally calls it hogwash, but only time will tell. History, some would claim, paints a different story as well.
Removing the venerable headphone jack opened the doors for many things, claims Apple. It was able to rearrange components, cram better camera sensors, stick in a larger battery, add a Taptic Engine for the Home Circle (not “Button”), and gain IP67 water proof rating (though Liquid Damage isn’t covered in the warranty). It’s a chicken and egg scenario though, with one leading to the other.
For now, however, it’s a no brainer for Apple. And judging by support from accessory makers and Apple’s own industry clout, the end is inevitable.