Apple rumored to ditch headphone jack on 'iPhone 7' for Lightning connector audio

Posted:
in iPhone edited December 2015
Apple's next-generation iPhone design is so thin that engineers are mulling the removal of the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, meaning users might have to invest in Lightning or Bluetooth-connected headphones, according to a rumor on Friday.




Citing sources familiar with Apple's plans, Mac Otakara reports next year's iPhone, tentatively dubbed "iPhone 7," will come sans headphone jack to accommodate a form factor that supposedly shaves more than 1mm off current iPhone thickness. The change is perhaps inevitable, as the existing 3.5mm industry standard jack module is already a tight fit in Apple's iOS hardware.

As part of the transition to Lightning, Apple will reportedly outfit its gratis EarPods headset with a digital-to-analog converter integrated into its plug. Third-party manufacturers might be forced to follow suit or create a Lightning-to-analog adapter if one is not provided by Apple.

Apple hinted at a potential move to Lightning-enabled headphone accessories at a "Designing Accessories for iOS and OS X" session at WWDC last year.

Apple's solution breaks out analog audio from iPhone's full digital signal, offering increased bandwidth and access to system controls. In addition, the Lightning standard can supply power to advanced headphone models, obviating the need for bulky battery packs. At the time, Apple said it was working on low-profile connector modules for manufacturers looking to build in hardware support.

Some companies are already taking advantage of Lightning audio, including Philips and JBL, which debuted new Lightning-compatible models at CES earlier this year. Philips was first to market in 2014 with its Fidelo M2L, a high-end headphone featuring onboard amplification and a 24-bit DAC.


A comparison of the relative thickness of the headphone and Lightning jacks on an iPhone 5s. | Source: iFixit


Apple has been investigating 3.5mm jack alternatives for some time, likely knowing the component would one day be a limiting factor in its increasingly thin device designs. A patent published in September, for example, outlined a tip-ring-ring-sleeve (TRRS) plug and receptacle that cut down on excess material by employing a D-shaped connector.
«13456710

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 191
    Does this mean the iPhone will charge like the Apple Watch? Surely charging whilst listening to headphones will be possible.
  • Reply 2 of 191
    Oh No!!!! For goodness sake, stop with the thinness, Apple. If anything, make them 1 mm thicker and improve battery. Jony, this is getting stupid.
    SylvainL
  • Reply 3 of 191
    bsenkabsenka Posts: 799member
    Lightning audio is probably a good thing. It could conceivable bring higher quality audio to the device.

    iPhones, however, are already way too thin. We have long passed the threshold by which making the devices thinner is providing any real utility. All they are doing is making them more difficult to hold on to.
  • Reply 4 of 191
    Do they expect me to just throw away my $300 headphones and my $150 earbuds? Ridiculous move Apple expecting me to diminish my user experience so you can save a mm of thickness.
  • Reply 5 of 191
    This idea is terrible. As an pro audio fanatic, I love having 3.5 inch audio jacks on my laptops, iPads, and iPhones. If I need to buy a connector, I am going to stick with my iPhone 6S or simply get an Android phone which doesn't use a proprietary lightning connector. I don't really give a damn how much thinner my iPhone is... In fact the fact there is a camera bump on the iPhone 6/6S because they wanted to make it thin irks me everyday.
  • Reply 6 of 191
    A move to even thinner iPhones is unnecessary and silly. I have invested hundreds of dollars in good earphones for my iDevices and would be very angry if Apple obsoleted them in their crazy quest for thinness.

    As for sound quality, they could improve the A/D converter within the iPhone. Digital sound, especially MP3's, is already so compromised that moving to digital output could not make is better.
  • Reply 7 of 191
    It's time to stop the phone-anorexia craze. They're thin enough already.

    - a "D"-shaped connector is stupid. It's just breakage waiting to happen. And this is one of the reasons that I prefer 90-degree headphone jacks to straight ones.

    - a thinner phone is no better. It's already slimmer than my wallet
  • Reply 8 of 191

    Breaking compatibility with everyone's existing headphones is a terrible idea. I will never, ever buy an iPhone 7 if they do this.

  • Reply 9 of 191
    Good comments. My 6 Plus way too thin. I put a Spigen slim armor case on which added 1.5-2mm and it feels just right.
  • Reply 10 of 191
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,957member
    Same rumor started before iphone 6 so it's time to throw dart in dark for iphone 7 feature/changes. Here is another issue replacing 3.5 plug as it is heavily used( IN / OUT) insertion of earpod/earphone several times a day vs lightening port used once a day for charging overnight. When you combined both into one than it better withstand that usage/abuse for one connector. Iphone users can get upset if within next the few months after warranty that one connector somehow breaks because use for earphone and charging.
  • Reply 11 of 191
    netroxnetrox Posts: 739member
    Considering that so many headphones, hearing aids, cochlear implants, or any audio receivers have Bluetooth capacity, it makes no sense to not use it. Why should we use Lightning port? Heck, if Apple phone keeps getting thinner, the Lightning port would also have to be jettisoned too.
  • Reply 12 of 191
    tell Apple to get a grip on reality.

    Sometimes their "thinness" concept gives the impression that it is the "thinness of their thinking".

    Use the space to add more battery and make everyone, except a few anal Apple engineers, happy
  • Reply 13 of 191
    As I look at my now use-extended 5s, I know which dimension I would like to shrink on next year's iPhone, but that's off-topic!

    I have mixed feelings about a Lightning connection for headphones. I'm not sure that you can buy such things yet, though that could change by next year's iPhone update, but the choice (and cost) is not likely to be as attractive as 3.5mm jack for a while. On the other hand, the current 'remote' interface would be much improved by digital communication across Lightning and sound could conceivably improve by staying digital on the cable right up to the earpieces.
  • Reply 14 of 191
    Hmmm. How am I going to charge my phone while I listen to my headphones. I practically do this every night when going to sleep... Bluetooth I suppose...
  • Reply 15 of 191
    kpomkpom Posts: 616member

    Lightning won't become an industry standard because it's proprietary to Apple, but perhaps this would jumpstart the Bluetooth headset market. Hopefully Apple can use the freed-up space to reduce the bezel size.

  • Reply 16 of 191
    bugsnwbugsnw Posts: 716member
    I say do it. Not for thinness, though that's fine. Do it because we all want to get rid of cables and having two cables in my truck is kludgy. I need one for audio and one to charge.

    Thinness isn't the bad thing. Apple should just spend a little engineering effort on finding something grippy that helps us hang on to the slippery suckers.

    That said, I'd prefer more battery life over thinness at this point.

    Shrink the bezel while you're at it, Apple. Both on the phones and the iMac.
  • Reply 17 of 191
    stop with the thinner and thinner phones, add battery instead I'd prefer a thicker phone that lasted 2days instead of these thinner models which force me to buy yet more accessories.
  • Reply 18 of 191
    I LOVE IT!! Well at least people who have perfectly good headphones that weren't cheap and not convenient to upgrade to a pair of lightning connected headphones because
    1. You just bought them and
    2. Those same $1,000 headphones are gong to go "lightning" anytime soon....
    ...now maybe those of you who gave us grief over dumping the optical port on the new Apple TV can see how we feel about our perfectly functioning surround sound systems who now have to buy a clunky adapter or buy a Bluetooth surround sound - for no reason - other than Apple decided not to include an audio out port.

    It's a pain in the butt huh? Yet you guys thought we were a bunch of "whining" (I believe the word you guys used describing our complaint). Now everyone with killer $1,000 headphones who don't want to buy or use an ugly adapter plugged in to use them on a "i-devce" - now you guys can get I the "whine line" behind us. Lol
  • Reply 19 of 191
    I don't see why? They can fit a jack in the 6.1mm thick iPads and iPod Touches.
  • Reply 20 of 191
    razormaid wrote: »
    I LOVE IT!! Well at least people who have perfectly good headphones that weren't cheap and not convenient to upgrade to a pair of lightning connected headphones because
    1. You just bought them and
    2. Those same $1,000 headphones are gong to go "lightning" anytime soon....
    ...now maybe those of you who gave us grief over dumping the optical port on the new Apple TV can see how we feel about our perfectly functioning surround sound systems who now have to buy a clunky adapter or buy a Bluetooth surround sound - for no reason - other than Apple decided not to include an audio out port.

    It's a pain in the butt huh? Yet you guys thought we were a bunch of "whining" (I believe the word you guys used describing our complaint). Now everyone with killer $1,000 headphones who don't want to buy or use an ugly adapter plugged in to use them on a "i-devce" - now you guys can get I the "whine line" behind us. Lol

    There actually was a reason for removing S/PDIF from the ATV4, and it was Apple Music. Optical has no DRM, HDMI does.
Sign In or Register to comment.