The rumor that Apple will get rid of the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 resurfaced Tuesday with an article in The Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the matter.
Apple is expected to launch the new iPhone later this year.
The iPhone’s Lightning connector will do double duty as its charging port and headphone connector, according to the WSJ. The result will be a thinner device and better water resistance.
If the rumor is true, the move “is right in terms of timing,” said Jeff Orr, a senior practice director at ABI Research.
“It comes at a time when Apple needs to demonstrate it’s still an innovator, unlike the competition where there’s a lot of iterations on devices,” he told TechNewsWorld. “I was hoping to see an audio solution, and part of that was the idea of removing the headphone jack.”
The iPhone 7 also might have a redesigned antenna and possibly will come in deep blue instead of gray.
The iPhone 7 Plus reportedly will have a dual-camera sensor — a first for the iPhone — and come with storage options of 32 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB, rather than the 16 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB of storage available for Apple’s flagships up to now.
Leveraging Apple’s Assets
Removing the headphone jack “would be a great opportunity for Apple to tie together all its audio experiences — its Beats headphones, Apple Music, its services, devices, content and content delivery system,” noted Orr. “The lack of a headphone jack creates talk, and demand for creating solutions that are a better fit.”
The move would “create first-mover opportunities for Beats Electronics to align products with the redesign, as they will clearly have influence on the upcoming release,” suggested Brent Iadarola, a global research director at Frost & Sullivan.
Impact on Consumers
In the short term, consumers who already have invested in wired headphones for their iPhones could be annoyed, Iadarola told TechNewsWorld. Also, charging wireless headphones could be cumbersome.
However, “it would not be surprising to see Apple remove the headphone plug in the iPhone 7,” he said.
“The longer-term trend is that consumers are increasingly migrating toward wireless headphones, so, while it may anger some of the more traditional consumers and certain headphone manufacturers, the move caters to tech-savvy millennials who tend to represent a significant percentage of the Apple installed base,” Iadarola pointed out.
Innovation Is Just Another Word
Removing the headphone jack would make “all those headphones and jacks with 3mm buds irrelevant,” noted ABI’s Orr. “It will change the way people will interact with the product and provide an opportunity for Apple to become an innovator again.”
Apple would not be the first company to take the leap, though.
LeEco this spring introduced three smartphones without headphone jacks — the Le 2, Le 2 Pro and Le Max 2 . They use the USB-C port for digital headphone connections instead.
Lenovo earlier this month followed suit, introducing two Moto Z models without headphone jacks. They too use the USB-C port for digital headphone connections.
Removing the headphone jack would make it easier to make the iPhone 7 water-resistant, catching up to the Samsung Galaxy 7 in that respect.
“I think the smartphone market’s capability to innovate is starting to slow down,” Orr said. “It seems like Apple should have been on the forefront of coming out with a water-resistant product.”
Opening New Markets
A ruggedized iPhone might let Apple explore new avenues for sales.
“There are very significant industries, in terms of size and opportunity, that to this day haven’t been able to utilize mobile technology,” Orr pointed out, “because the environments are hazardous with gas and dust, where it’s not safe for devices made for consumers.”
The hazardous location market “would be a huge opportunity for Apple,” he said, but he doubted the company would take up the challenge.
I’ve got a thousand dollar UE ear monitor that I listen to flac music and watch movies on my phone. The lag of wireless and the fact that all wireless earphones/headphones are only single driver are a no-win for me. If the tech reliant on phones thinness is the next step, then earphones/headphones should do wireless better first and foremost.
I’ve read differing stories on this. Some now say it’s all false about duel camera sensors, and no audio jack. Personally I think Apple misses a lot of uses for the audio jack. Plenty of people are not completely into the digital age of technology. Some still use older wired headphones, hook their phone via headphone jack to speakers and car audio systems. Besides the investment many have in wired products that use the jack. Also by eliminating a function is this really an improvement or just a change? We already have Bluetooth that works with wireless audio, and who wants to buy a D/A dongle to connect wired devices through the Lightning connector? Is this really going to be better? No doubt making things harder for someone with a wired analog device in Apple’s mind would mean selling those people a nice pair of Beats wireless headphones. Or possible a nice D/A dongle if you insist on staying with old technology. So for the user paying a penalty for being old school. How many developing countries probably have people who still use wired headphones? Apple has a distorted view of its consumer who buys Apple products. They obviously think everyone is obsessed having the latest technology and wireless features. But in reality many people only adopt something when they feel it is better or easier to use. Or when they are replacing older technology. Sadly Apple’s drive to keep selling means making these choices simply as a means to sell more stuff. Not being so innovative.