The standard 3.5mm headphone jack is everywhere – from computers to smartphones to stereo equipment to that Walkman from 1987 sitting in your closet. But if a new rumour is to be believed, your next iPhone may not have one.
According to the Japanese tech site Macotakara, Apple is planning to cut the ubiquitous 3.5mm headphone jack in the iPhone 7, opting instead for Lightning-based headphones. According to Macotakara, the removal of the headphone jack appears to be part of an effort to further slim down the iPhone. The site claims the next iPhone will be a full millimetre thinner than the current model, the iPhone 6s.
Signs point at ‘maybe’
While it’s a good idea to remain sceptical of any rumour, there are a couple indications that this one may be for real. MacRumors characterises Mac Otakara as ‘often-reliable’, which would seem to give this latest rumour some credence. And as MacRumors notes, Apple introduced the MFi specification for Lighting-based headphones last year, so Apple may have been laying the groundwork for transition away from the headphone jack for a while.
Apple also has a long history of dropping older technology in its products, either to make room for new features or to slim down its gear. The original iMac, for example, lacked a floppy drive, but it helped popularise USB. More recently, the 12in Retina MacBook ditched almost all ports in favour of a headphone jack and a single USB-C port.
It’s important to note that Apple wouldn’t be the first smartphone maker to drop the headphone jack – the HTC G1, the first Android-based smartphone, also shipped without a headphone jack. But given Apple’s size, influence and market position, shipping an iPhone without a headphone jack may push other manufacturers to follow suit.
Such a development may lead to a fractured headphone market, but it’s also possible that Apple has other, bigger plans for the Lightning connector. Only time will tell.