Rumour has it that Apple will be removing the 3.5mm headphone jack in favour of a thinner design for its next iPhone (Probably called iPhone 7). But is that a sacrifice worth making?
We are in a age where technology is widespread and devices are becoming ever smarter and more integrated in our daily lives. With that said, everyone wants a thinner device which is light yet strong for which device manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung and others have to make certain sacrifices to achieve this goal. For instance, most flagship smartphones now have a sealed in battery and no capability for memory expansion, all in favour for a thinner and lighter design. But do people prefer lightness over something like a basic 3.5mm headphone jack? That is definitely a hard sacrifice to make.
Apple is known to make daring changes to its hardware, forcing people to adapt and embrace it. Examples include the loss of the floppy drive and optical drive in all Mac computers, change to the lightening port from the 30-pin connector and the most recent, a MacBook with just 1 USB-C port and a headphone jack, making the claim of Apple removing the headphone jack from the next iPhone that much more believable. In fact, Apple is known for ditching outdated technology faster than anyone else.
In most cases though, Apple got its prediction right as the industry followed suit. The loss of the optical drive enabled thinner, efficient and lighter Mac designs from the MacBooks to the Mac Pro, The lightening port enabled not only for thinner devices but also introduced the convenience of reversibility. Another famous prediction was Apple deciding not to support Flash on iOS which now is officially extinct with the shift towards HTML5.
While everyone complained about how Apple just made these sudden changes out of nowhere, it shows just how forward thinking Apple actually is.
So what is Apple’s alternative to the headphone jack? The lightning port or use of wireless technologies such as Bluetooth. This isn’t anything new. There already exists a small selection of headphones using Apple’s lightning port such as the Philips M2L/27 Fidelio Headphones with lighting connector.
The 3.5mm jack has been in existence since the 19th century when it was being used in telephone switchboards and while it is in widespread use today, it’s use will slowly decline when a company like Apple makes the change. Furthermore, the lightening port can support hi-res audio compared to the 3.5mm jack and it’s a digital form of connection compared to the analog form of the current headphone jack. Being a digital connection, the phone can precisely control the audio and can also be programmed to perform smart operations such as opening a specific app when the headphones are plugged in. It could also enable power to be transmitted to the headphones eliminating the use of batteries or extra cables for those extra features like active noise cancelling.
But there still is a major hurdle. The selection of lighting headphones is too small especially compared to the ones available for the 3.5mm headphone jack. The price is also pretty high. But its important to remember that Apple owns Beats Inc which means it could reflect the change to lightening connector across the Beats headphone lineup.
We can also expect for Apple to sell an over-priced adapter from 3.5mm jack to lightening for those who don’t want to make the switch. And remember there always is the wireless option.