About the iPhone 7

There have been a lot of rumors swirling around about the iPhone 7 coming out in September. One of the biggest rumors is that it will lack a 3.5mm headphones port. The more I think about this, the more I feel like this is a mistake on Apple’s part.

I’ve seen people compare this change to the whole idea of Apple getting rid of the 3.5” floppy drive in the past, and more recently the optical drives. But here’s the difference between the standard headphone jack and the floppy and optical drives, the floppy drive and the optical drives were already on their way out. Apple just decided to be the one of the first to move on from them. I can’t remember the last time I tried to put a DVD in my Macbook Pro only to remember I don’t have one. Simply put, I just don’t miss it.

This is most definitely not the case when it comes to the headphones port. The 3.5mm headphones jack is still dominantly used with headphones. To simply remove it will make it that much more difficult for people to listen to music, podcasts, video, and anything else with an audio track on their phones.

There will most likely be a lightning adapter to allow people to plug in their old headphones, one might even come with a lightning port as well so you can charge your phone and listen at the same time. This still misses the point though. People will need to carry one more thing around with them in order to listen.

Bluetooth headphones are of course a second option but they come with their own drawbacks such as keeping them charged and generally lower sound quality as well. I have two pairs of these for use at the gym, but generally use my earbuds and over the head headphones for most of my listening.

The other thing to keep in mind is if Apple releases a new type of headphones that interfaces with the lightning port is the whole idea of lock-in. Apple is generally known for keeping people locked into their platform and the lightning port is no exception. The lightning port is only used in Apple devices and to bring lightning headphones into existence means that people who want to use these headphones are pretty much forced to use Apple devices or to possibly get an adapter to make it compatible with Android devices or say a Macbook Pro. Essentially the headphones will work on iPhones and iPads…and not much else.

Now one thing that could make this whole thing interesting is if Apple continues down the USB-C path. The current Macbook has a USB-C port, which is a standard and from my understanding, a good one too. If Apple decides to use USB-C on the iPhone 7, and opts for USB-C headphones (whatever they might look like), that could make things interesting. Since USB-C is used beyond Apple devices (Android has several USB-C phones), lock-in wouldn’t occur assuming other platforms open up for Audio through the USB port. I’m not exactly holding my breath for this option, but I suppose it’s possible.

Could whatever Apple is coming up with be better than the 3.5mm headphones jack? Given its age, it’s certainly due for disruption. I just question forcing it over right now when the 3.5mm jack is such widely used on a regular basis is a good idea. I’m currently in a holding pattern trying to decide what I want to do for my next phone. I’m not sold on something new, but will go into the upcoming announcement with an open mind. If the headphones port is removed and its replacement isn’t something that seems workable, I might end up moving back to Android before I end up getting locked into a single platform and ecosystem.

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