By now, you’ve likely heard about Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack from the new iPhone 7 and the customer uproar that followed. Transitioning to wireless headphones is a definite switch for Apple customers, but it’s about more than just money. Why did Apple drop the ear cord? Let’s examine some possibilities.
According to Apple, the company was motivated by courage.
“Some people have asked us why we would remove the analogue headphone jack,” said marketing chief Phil Schiller. “It’s been with us a really long time and it comes down to one word: courage. Our team has tremendous courage.”
While the response has gained some criticism, it does have some merit: Apple has always been a leader in technology and is known for creating new things and doing things no tech company has ever done. If the future really is moving away from corded headphones, as Apple says it is, it makes sense that Apple would need to be the first company to make the big move. In the competitive smartphone industry, Apple showcases its commitment towards progress by thinking outside the box and leading the charge in a new generation of phone technology. It’s likely that other companies will soon follow Apple’s example, but the long-term change is leading to short-term frustrations and extra costs for many customers.
Design-wise, there simply isn’t enough room in the iPhone for the headphone jack and all the new features Apple wanted to include. The traditional 3.5mm jack has been around for 50 years and only serves one purpose: to carry an audio signal.
“Maintaining an ancient, single-purpose, analogue, big connector doesn’t make sense because that space is at a premium,” said Schiller.
Although it was rumored the iPhone 7 would possibly be thinner without a headphone jack, the phone is actually the same width as its predecessor, the iPhone 6. With the extra space, Apple has improved the battery cell and increased the A10 Fusion processor for fasting response times and more powerful processing. The iPhone 7 also has two cameras, allowing for optical image stabilization for both front and rear-facing cameras. It is also waterproof, which Apple claims wouldn’t be possible if there was still a headphone jack.
According to Apple, using wireless Bluetooth headphones and the new Lightning port produces much higher sound quality than using traditional corded headphones. Experts agree that the Lightning port provides many more options for sound and a clearer audio experience.
“The big problem with the old headphone jacks is that they’re analogue technology,” said Dr. Joshua Reiss, head of audio engineering research at Queen Mary University. “Modern audio formats are all digital, and have been for a very long time.”
When digital audio files are played through an analogue headphone jack, they must be converted, which can cause the sound to lose its integrity and even some aspects of its recording, meaning a listener on traditional headphones may be missing an important part of the sound.
Wireless headphones are also more portable and can be used much more easily when exercising or moving around without having to worry about a cord getting in the way.
And then, of course, there’s the money issue. Although it likely wasn’t Apple’s main motivation in removing the headphone jack, there’s no doubt that doing so leads to more money for the company. Apple recently bought Beats, the world’s top headphone company, which also announced three new wireless headphone models the same day the iPhone 7 was announced. By removing the traditional jack and owning a headphone company, Apple is poised to capitalize on iPhone 7 users looking for great Bluetooth headphones.
Although Apple is pushing for the $159 wireless AirPods, which must be purchased separately from the phone, there are other, less expensive options. Each iPhone 7 comes with a pair of the classic Lightning EarPods and a connector so that the headphones can be plugged into the phone’s charging port, meaning users can still use headphones with the phone right away. However, replacement connectors cost $9, which can quickly add up to extra profits for Apple. It is estimated that Apple will make millions on Lightning port connectors and AirPods alone.
Apple is definitely making waves with its controversial decision to remove the traditional headphone jack. However, with other new features in the iPhone 7 and a very loyal customer base, the company shouldn’t have much to worry about with sales. As it has done before, Apple will be leading the charge towards a new way to listen and use a technological device.
Does the lack of headphone jack change your opinion of the iPhone 7?