3.5mm jacks and the future of iPhone

Apple is going to ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone. That's a headline we see almost every year, this year included. It's provocative. It's controversial. But what does it mean?

Nothing to do with thinness, of course. Whenever you hear "thinness" blamed or complained about, run the other way. Turn an iPhone over, look at the bottom, and see how much "thinner" the iPhone could already get before it comes close to the 3.5mm jack.

iPod touch

iPod touch (Image credit: iMore)

Look at an iPod touch and see how much "thinner" it already is even with a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Look at an Apple Watch, which ships without a 3.5mm headset jack, and see how "thinness" has nothing to do with it. Thinness is only ever a byproduct of lightness, and that a byproduct of usability.

The 3.5mm jack does take up space internally, though. Space that, with new elements like the Taptic Engine added—and bezel potentially being removed at some point—is at a severe premium.

It's also old. Over a century old. It's evolved to handle basic controls like play/pause and skip, and to support not only headphones but mics, scientific instruments, credit card readers and more. All without requiring accessory makers license the Lightning connector from Apple.

But it's something extraneous. And if there's any pattern to be drawn from Apple's history of design, it's that anything extraneous is always in danger. If nothing else, Apple is relentlessly fearless when it comes to the future.

Do we need a 3.5mm jack for another century? Another decade? Another year? Lightning EarPods in the box and 3.5mm to Lightning adapters, with and without passthrough, could handle wired. Bluetooth—or something better—EarPods could handle wireless.

We've been through similar transitions before. When Apple switched from the decade-old 30-pin Dock connector to Lightning in 2012, it caused a year or so of pain for those who had legacy 30-pin Dock cables and accessories.

That was partly because of the high price of the adapters, partly because Apple failed to get the adapters into stores at launch. Three years later, though, and all that remains is a better connector.

Palm had 2.5mm headset jacks on some of their devices, requiring a 3.5mm adapter to work with conventional headphones. HTC ditched the headphone jack entirely on the Windows Mobile-powered Touch Pro and the Android-powered G1. The company's multifunction audio adapter, though, left much to be desired.

Apple has the resources to explore and prototype anything. They also have the luxury of saying "no" to those experiments and prototypes repeatedly until the time is right to say "yes". They tested big screen phones for years before shipping the iPhones 6, and NFC before shipping Apple Pay.

It would shock me if Apple hadn't explored and prototyped iPhones without 3.5mm headset jacks—if they weren't bound by preconceptions of what might be lost but open to the possibilities of what might be gained. What wouldn't shock me is if Apple, at some point in the future, shipped one.

Because that's always and only what it's ever about—the future.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • So...are you saying it would be good or bad? It would render all of those existing Beats headphones meaningless.. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • There is really no real logic in removing the 3.5 Jack..it takes minimal space and as mentioned doesn't affect the phone's thinness. Incentive for apple would be to replace it with a 'futuristic' port that you need to pay $49.99 for an adapter to make it work with a 3.5 headphone. by the way, the only reason they came out with a bigger screen was because they saw Samsung's success with the Note series and the followed suit. Same story with NFC. It wasn't because they waited till it was ready. It was a delayed response to consumer demands and a panicked response to Samsung's success with bigger screens.
  • This is untrue. There is more to removing the 3.5mm jack than just to sell an adapter. It is probably one of the biggest parts in the phone now and with the acquisition of beats I'm sure a beats 3.5mm to Lightning adapter will be available. As for copying the success of Samsung, again, not entirely true. Apple has never been concerned with doing something first, but doing it right. It wasn't until reachability was developed that Apple were comfortable releasing a larger screen, as everything should be within reach of 1 hand. The same reason the sleep/wake button was moved to the side of the iPhone. Sent from the iMore App
  • A bigger screen with no new functionality (not event more icon on home screen) called "doing it right" he'll yeah. You can call Hitler a "democratic" if you like. Posted from my Samsung Galaxy S6
  • I support Apple 100% with their stance in regards to introducing the big screen iPhones last year. Apple is also about to user experience and without any compromises and like the other commentator said Apple will only release things when the time is right, and when Apple releases their implementation of an existing idea Apple's implementation is always superior to the original idea or feature. Apple has proved you don't have to be first as long as you do it right. The fact is Apple is still the industry leader that all the likes of Samsung follow and we all know that Samsung loves copying Apple and no doubt Samsung will bring their own copycat version of 3D Touch to the Galaxy S7. Posted via the iMore App
  • Why do you think the Note series were/still are a huge success? Because Samsung had already done it right with bigger screens and gained massive success with its Note series while Apple was trying to brainwash everyone that 3 inch is all you need. Then reality hit and Apple copied and followed suit with the big screen.
  • I see more iPhone6+/iPhone6s+ users than I see Note4/Note5 users. Samsung had hold of the market of "phablets" because the other options for large phones were crap til Apple got it right and released their 5.5 inch display. Don't get Me wrong I give it to Samsung for trying a large size phone, but there has always been a market for small devices and large devices since the time of the legendary "flip phone". Sent from the iMore App
  • What a crock. You call the AppleTV doing it right? The interface was/is atrocious.
    Basically they called it a hobby for ages to cover up the fact they couldn’t reinvent the TV.
  • "I'm sure a beats 3.5mm to Lightning adapter will be available" exactly my point. Incentive would be remove the option and charge people to have it back. "reachability" for bigger screens was developed by Samsung. It's first Note was a massive success which propelled Apple to ditch its internal philosophy of "there is no need for bigger screens" and play catch up to Samsung.
  • I can't believe you actually believe Apple somehow magically made phablets easier to use one handed....Note had a one handed mode before the 6S came out. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • But as always Apple's version (Reachability) is superior to Samsung's one handed mode. It's not about being first its about doing it right and Apple gets it right first time while Samsung takes 2 or more attempts to get it right so is their obsession with Apple. Posted via the iMore App
  • Sorry. Apples one handed operation is NOT superior in any way to the one handed operation of the note 5. Sent from the iMore App
  • You're right... It's WAY better to lose 70-80% of the screen (full time), or better yet just 50% as everything gets shifted from one side to the other (once again, full time). Apple was consistently clowned for their small screened phones, but Samsung doing the exact same thing for the same reasons is brilliant or at the very least better? It's terrible to lose 50% of the screen BRIEFLY to accomplish said task, completely inferior in every way. I guess people can have it both ways if they want. Sent from the iMore App
  • Apple's reachability is terrible (and I own an iPhone). I know you love apple, but you have to admit, somethings samsung just does better.
  • Of course they do SOME things better... or one thing rather. WIDGETS!! The only thing I miss from my GN 2/3 days. Just so you're aware, having a preference doesn't reveal an infatuation one might have, but that they have made a conscious choice one way or another. Bye-bye 3.5mm jack, they haven't been working on BT consuming less energy for nothing. ONE of the major complaints of BT/wireless in general. Cheers! Sent from the iMore App
  • LOL no it isn't superior. Apple follows and copies other's features and its diebhard fans try to pretend they perfected it or did it right when they do it to justify being late to the party, but when another OEM implements (possibly better ) a feature that Apple has, it is copying. The rationalization of Apple Fanboys to make it like Apple can do no wrong is hilarious and deluded. It is along the lines of cult like worship and thinking. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • So doing it better is reducing the screen by brining the icons down, how about maximizing screen space by reducing bezels, ditching the useless home button? There are ways to improve the design and waiting two years to do it is lazy. Apple prefers to maximize profits over function.
  • Of course Apple is maximizing its profits! That's standard business practices. They also intelligently only make 2 (possibly 3 soon?) phones instead of rebadging/renaming the same phone 25x, and think changing the screen size/making it curve with minimal functionality is going to fool anyone! Even their most faithful fanboys are jumping ship, causing their overall sales and profits to continually decline! I know Apple is behind, but let's see who has force touch next year! Oh I forgot... Wiggling your finger above the screen is a better way to do it. Or better yet, lets use two hands for a one handed task, so I'll grab my "smart" pen. Or lets long press (since some say android has had it for years) so we can have the excitement of watching 'info' pop up! Yay! Come on man! **DISCLAIMER** I'm not trying to troll or start a flame war, so let's continue to keep it civil. Sent from the iMore App
  • I don't get your point. Posted from my Samsung Galaxy S6
  • No offense but have you used a Note5? I personally had an easier time with one handed operation with the Note 5 than the iPhone 6S+. While the Note5 might have a bigger screen, it's a slightly smaller device. Pick one up in a store and see what I mean.
  • Quite honestly I haven't, GN3 was the last one I owned and the 4 is the last one I have actually touched. I have seen several YouTube videos (not the same I know), and losing the screen the way you do, plus having the screen cluttered with multiple apps at the ready doesn't appeal to me. I prefer to hard press/swipe back and forth and select my app. Why? Everything is taking place with ONE hand! Is that the superior way? To ME it is, and no one has to get my point but me (see the response above). To each his own! Sent from the iMore App
  • The apple reality distortion field is real.
  • "it takes minimal space" based on your preconceived notion of what should be inside a smartphone and based on today's tech. Unless you work in Apple's design labs, no one knows how Apple is looking to redesign iPhones, be it exterior design or within the smartphone itself.
  • Ha! Apple just copies Samsung huh? You have got to check out my magazine. It'll answer all of your questions. IOS > Android
  • Oh dear oh dear! Honestly if you prefer Iphone and Ios thats fine and lots of people do, I respect that but to make that flipboard !? Are you insecure ? Low self esteem ? Lonely ? Desperate ?
    To be honest anybody could do a flipboard of Android > IOS, there are faults and advantages to both.
    Just use what you prefer and be happy and don't worry about it!
  • Exactly, I prefer iPhone and iOS and I get abuse from Android fans because. I'll admit I've retaliated to a lot of Android fans abuse, and they say us Apple fans are bad, Android fans are the worst kind of fans especially on Google+ and YouTube. Posted via the iMore App
  • Why do you describe yourself as an apple fan!? Why are you bound to a company that is really only interested in your money before anything else!? Why can't you and everyone else, evaluate each device on its own merits and be a fan of that because it suits your needs?! Then you could get over the sad 'Apple fanboy vs android fanboy' BS. There's more important things than fanboyism. There really is... Sent from the iMore App
  • I enjoy using Apple's products, and as they suit my needs, sure there are things that Apple can do better, like improving they're sharing option to non Apple devices. But I plan on switching to Apple's ecosystem full, I already have an iPhone I had and an iPad Air and then sold it, I will get an iPad Air 2 or iPad Pro and eventually a Mac. I'm a visually impaired person and Apple has the best options for accessibility which covers a range of disabilities from hearing to vision. Android and Windows are nowhere near Apple in accessibility. So you see that's why I prefer Apple products to anyone else's Plus I love the simplicity of Apple products, anyone can use them all in all I agree with you fanboyism is pointless, not OS is perfect but iOS, iPhone and iPad suits my needs and if I don't like Mac OSX then I can always side load Windows 10 through boot camp, I'm sure I'll like OSX, I'm bored of Windows and I want to give Mac a try, I'm certain I won't come back to Windows. Posted via the iMore App
  • I think there are many people in Android community are more objective. Because the platform itself is not monopoly by one company. Thus they are used to the comparison and they believe sometimes one do something better then the other. There is no "always" perfect in the world. Where else in Apple community, there is only 1 company running the shows... Posted from my Samsung Galaxy S6
  • If we don't ditch the 3.5 mm jack then we will be eating into the adapter market. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Right. Just put it next to the already larger camera module with the already large camera bulge, and there's really no reason to remove it.
  • I have to agree completely, Apple has always dragged their feet on adding what the customer wants so Apple can maximize their profits (that is any companies goal), but when you remove a component just so you can boost even more profits over function its unacceptable greed. I do enjoy my 6S Plus but if their goal is a thinner phone that will be even more difficult to hold then I don't see me jumping on the 7/7S, what we need is more battery capacity not a thinner phone. If they want to ditch the 3.5mm jack so they can boost battery ok, but the 3.5mm to lightning jack MUST BE INCLUDED.
  • He's saying that it's inevitable.
  • Great...now they can charge $80 for an adapter much like they did for the new MacBook and USB C cables....or all those suckers who bought new Beats to match their 6S can buy new ones that only work on iPhone 7 and no other electronics Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • As long as they are hapilly being ripped off by the same company again and again, and they still feel happy.
  • No we aren't being ripped off, were buying quality with Apple. Posted via the iMore App
  • Removing the headphone jack doesn't necessarily mean quality. If Apple were to remove it but supply users with the adapted for free, in the box, that would be fair. To charge for it is profiteering. Sent from the iMore App
  • No...you are being ripped off and are too blind by the RDF to realize it. It is sad. Lots of blogs gave lack of ports and an $80 adapter as a check mark against the new MacBook which is essentially an expensive Apple equivalent to a netbook based on internals and lack of ports. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Minor quibble, but HTC ditched the audio jack before the HTC Touch Pro. I had a Sprint Touch that didn't have an headphone jack, only the USB Mini port. It had headphones for the Mini port and adapters that came with it. It came out in 2007. And it ran Android Donut quite well. :D
  • I had one as well, late 2007. Not having the headphone jack did not affect me in the least.
  • It looks like an odd future clash to me, which is why I can't wrap my head on the theory behind the rumor. How many people buy music from iTunes and listen to said music on their devices? The only angle I can see is forcing people to buy the typically expensive Apple accessories to adapt headphones to fit the lightning port (anti-convenient which Apple is against yeah?) I should think an idea like this would damage that piece of their market a tad, and then there's Beats which would require a radical product redesign to work with lightning and thus alienate everyone who wants Beats headphones but not an iPhone. I get that Bluetooth is functional, but I would wager there are many many more people who use the regular headphone jack to listen to their library on the go. On the other hand, people thought Apple was insane to at one point not ship a floppy drive in their desktops. Guess we'll find out soon enough. Sent from the iMore App
  • The Beats Studios I own have the interchangeable cable, could be something so simple as selling a compatible cord. My next pair of headphones were going to be Bluetooth anyway, so I don't know if I would even bother tho. Sent from the iMore App
  • It isn't quite that simple, as 3.5mm headphones jacks are analog (they output voltages) and Lightning jacks are digital (put out data). In order for headphones to connect directly to lightning, they would either have to A) Have an amplifier and DAC (digital to analog converter) built into the headphone, or B) have those parts built into the cable, which would probably mean the cable would have to be fairly bulky, not to mention expensive. Also, though many people don't notice, sound quality over Bluetooth is reduced compared to a wired connection.
  • I think if this rumour about Apple getting rid of the headphone jack prove to be true, of seriously question Apple's sanity. There's no logic on getting rid of the headphone jack but on the other hand, you know what? I trust Apple 100%, I'm sure Apple has a plan and it will turn out to be a great decision to get rid of the headphone jack if the rumoured universal lightning port where headphones will be plugged in instead proves to have superior sound quality then it could turn out to be a masterstroke of genius. Posted via the iMore App
  • With headphones connected directly to a lightning port, the sound quality would mostly be dependent on the headphones themselves, not the phone. Lightning can only output digital signals. So headphone manufacturers would have to build-in the hardware needed to convert the digital signals to analog voltages (DAC) and then amplified (amp). There are actually already Lightning headphones available (I know Phillips makes some) that work in this exact way. So basically, just as things are now, most cheap headphones (with some exceptions) wouldn't sound that great, while pricier offerings (again, with exceptions) would sound better. However, headphones would likely be more expensive across the board, simply because the electronics currently in phones (powering the headphone jack) would need to be moved into the headphones themselves.
  • I use Bluetooth headphones anyway, so this doesn't matter much to me other than the slight lack of convenience of universality. If there's a good enough reason I'm perfectly okay with this.
  • No matter how advanced Bluetooth audio gets, it's still not as good as a wired connection.
  • Not as good in what way? The sound quality could certainly improve as Bluetooth improves. What is it about a wired connection that is inherently better?
  • Ask gamers why wired peripherals are preferred to wireless. Similar idea. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Since you decided to respond, why don't you just tell us?
  • I don't know about gamers but obvious answer to what is inherently better about wired is that it doesn't need to be charged and consumes less phone battery
  • Latency Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • The audio degrades slightly when its wireless. Same reason why Blu-ray is superior to 1080p iTunes movies. Compression and/or other factors prevent getting the best quality possible.
  • Inherently, nothing. But are we beating off to theoretical stuff (as this article does) or are we talking present and soon to be time? Look it up, Im not your personal assistant, but there are signal quality/bandwidth limitations to bluetooth that the copper wire doesnt have. And you dont have to have stellar lossless music to realize it. Of course, a 10$ pair of wired earbuds might not compare to 800$ APTx compatible bluetooth headphones, but I for one recently purchased a B&O BeoPlay H8 (high end bluetooth headphones that can be used with a wire too) and I can see a clear difference on a nice VBR mp3 between the bluetooth connection and when I use the wire. There are wireless technologies other than bluetooth (Sennheiser RS series for example) that work, but they dont serve the same purposes for now. And yeah, bluetooth will probably get better, but what are talking about here? The elephant that can 'quantumly' hang off a cliff with its tail tied to a daisy, or a few years ahead?
  • I don't use ear buds or head phones, so maybe there's a legitimate reason not to, but here's my simple question:
    Why not just dump the wired ear buds and head phones and go all wireless? Seems it would simplify a lip or of issues.
  • Because you don't half to charge wired headphones
  • I'm looking forward to the change I've never found a pair Bluetooth headsets that really work well and I'm over the wired earpods and other earbuds .
  • As long as they use that space to put in more battery then its fine in my opinion. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • It won't be
  • Haha no they will shrink the battery. You're not getting a larger battery with Apple. They put emphasis on thin over battery life. Sent from the iMore App
  • Yes, Apple removes old tech - when it's obsolete, has no real value going forward, or when they replace it with something inarguably better. (30 pin to lightning at the time wasn't inarguably better, but I think over time the value of lightning connector has born out). None of those apply to the 3.5" audio connector. Wired connections are almost always higher quality (even though they are "good enough" for many cases), use less battery life and the headphones/earphones don't need recharging, and no UI is necessary to "pair" it with a device. Wireless audio has different advantages that in some cases make them good choices, but far from all cases. Plus, the audiojack is used to connect to devices that aren't solely designed for working with Apple devices, so removing the ability to work with those devices is a real negative. I'm sure they've tested phones without a physical audio jack. I will be highly disappointed if they manufacture phones for sale without one.
  • My thoughts exactly.
  • The jack is a goner. Sure the rumors have persisted but we are finally at a point where this legacy connection is ready to be put out to pasture. Apple gave you the clue with the iPad Pro. 1. The Lightning port now provides power
    2. The Lightning port connects to USB 3
    3. The Smart Connector is created I expect to see L port and Smart Connectors only for iP7 and future iPads. Adapter cables & tips will be provided for legacy hardware.
  • The Lightning port is also a lot less robust than the 3.5mm jack. Look, I'm not saying the 3.5 needs to stay (I haven't even used it once on my current iPhone), but having a Lightning cabled headphone plugged in while the user commutes doesn't inspire confidence, especially taking all the reports of Lightning port malfunctions I've seen from users just handling their iPhones while charging into account. Having an adapter along the chain inspires even less confidence.
  • So I can't charge my Apple product and listen to music on headphones at the same time? Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • How is thinness ever only a byproduct of lightness? Something can definitely be lighter without being thinner. Sent from the iMore App
  • Stop making sense!! it confuses Rene and you'll be called a troll
  • +1 Sent from the iMore App
  • +1 Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • +1 Posted from my Samsung Galaxy S6
  • Because Rene said so. Just like they made the 6+ lighter because it was so big and would be too heavy otherwise, (at least that's what rene claimed) yet he's been mum on the "much heavier" 6s+ this time around. Sent from the iMore App
  • You're free to disagree with me, and I'm happy to have the discussion, but there's no reason to be rude.
  • How was he rude?!!
    and we all know you really wanted to say "troll" instead of rude but i had already called you on it...It's always a pleasure to disarm you intellectually.
  • Again, please feel free to disagree and discuss, but keep it classy if you'd like to continue commenting here.
  • I am freely disagreeing and discussing. You, however, seem unable to contribute to the discussion in a meaningful way and instead try to deflect by dismissing people as "troll" or "rude". Commonly used tactic by you.
  • I think his last comment was more of a threat than anything. Better behave or you'll go on naughty step.. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm sure he's been itching to ban me for a long time.
  • Errr. I dont get it. How can this be rude if he stated the truth? Posted from my Samsung Galaxy S6
  • I challenge you to point out the rudeness in his statement.
  • How was I being rude? I'm sorry you can't handle when someone calls you out. I can't find it at the moment, but one of your articles talked about how the 6+ was "perfect" and if it was any heavier people wouldn't be able to use it. It is just funny, that you didn't say anything once the much heavier 6s+ was released, since according to what you said, it would be way too heavy..
  • Thinness follows lightness when it comes to Apple mobile design, is that a better way to state it?
  • Somewhat. But their design language is also supposed to be about usability. There is a thinness and lightness break point in the current mobile phone form. Most companies have passed it as far as I'm concerned. Especially iPhones. Thinness does not equal usability when we are talking a mm of difference. Lightness makes objects easier to drop as they slide out of the hand easier. Also, they are horrendously slippery. Premium means much more than Apple thinks it does. Luckily for them, people are willing to believe whatever Jony Ive says. Sorry went off topic a touch, but every time I read anything about Apple, it is always lacking any hard truths about anything Apple does. Sacrificing strength for thinness in case of the 6. **** just irks me when Apple gets fawned over like the writer is a lovestruck teenager. Sent from the iMore App
  • Lets hope the "solution" is a lot better than Apple's last bright idea;
  • The team that designed the Magic Mouse is not the same team that designs iDevices.
  • It's not ideal, but neither are current alternatives. Everything is a compromise. http://www.imore.com/regarding-lightning-port-magic-mouse-2
  • Or you know they could have put the charging port at a more traditional place on the mouse so you could, you know, use it while charging. God they are obsessed with form over function. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Given that it only needs charging once in a blue moon and charging is pretty quick, this design makes perfect sense to me. I don't want to look at a mouses butthole all the time.
  • This is fair. The battery lasts long enough that use while charging should not be considered a necessity. Could it be better made? Sure, there could be a cover for the port to keep it cleaner. But does it need to be charged while used? Not really, no.
  • Oh my god no, covers on ports are the most frustrating thing ever and always snap off
  • But when you only have to recharge it every few weeks, it'd be nicer not to have grime and dust filling the ports.
  • Regardless, it is still putting form over function which is bad design. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Just as long as they don't remove the SCSI port from my desktop Mac.
  • As long as whatever adapter they have allows the iPhone to be charged while using corded headphones with it, I'm OK with it although I would rather they didn't do this. I listen to podcasts while sleeping and use really cheap wired headphones to do this since they only end up lasting a few months. I wouldn't use bluetooth headphones for this as they are pricey and they usually have a light on them that makes them unusable while in bed as my wife would have a fit about the light.
  • It may be about the future. But it's not one I'll rush out to buy into unless Apple makes it compelling.
  • Right now I would be disappointed if this happens. While I'm sure improvements could be made in wireless headphones or even by using the light inning port with some type of adapter, it's the concurrence factor that I love with the headphone jack. For example, how many of us have been out traveling or otherwise only to realize you left your earbuds at home. How easy is it to go to virtually any store or even a vending machine and buy a new pair that is pretty inexpensive to get you though. Now imagine leaving your headset at home and not only needing a new set of earbuds but also finding a not so easy to find adapter or buying a much more expensive pair of wireless headphones. No thank you. It's happened was to much for me to count for this to be a good thing at this moment. Sent from the iMore App
  • Sorry for the typos. Sometimes the onscreen keyboards just don't do it for me. Ha Sent from the iMore App
  • What if ... it wasn't about LOOSING a 3.5 mm jack, but GAINING a new port that does things we can't even imagine! It seems obvious that many companies are experimenting with VR and AR. Imagine new ideas with that... be it audio, or video. A new port might allow data and controls in ways we do not use today. Explore and experiment!
  • Yay! Let's render all out nice, current headphones useless just to have a thinner phone than we already have (iPhone is friggin thin enough...focus on battery) Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • VAVA Mk2, adaptor.
  • Yes, please pay $49.99 to get back what we just removed.
  • Exactly. If you have to pay for or use clunky adapters to keep functionality you had before, you are doing it wrong. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • The ports in the picture don't appear to be vertically aligned between the two phones. Maybe its my view onscreen? The phone connector was developed in the 19th century (per Wikipedia). Wasn't aware that the 3.5mm jack is also that old, and not clear from the Wikipedia article if that's the case. Either way, good to learn something new.
  • Like Rene said in the article, the port is not just for headphones. > Over a century old. It's evolved to handle basic controls like play/pause and skip, and to support not only headphones but mics, scientific instruments, credit card readers and more. All without requiring accessory makers license the Lightning connector from Apple. Will the, suspected Lightning to 3.5mm adapter support all those accessories ? Without needing accessory maker license ?
  • If it's not going to "make a thinner iPhone", nor dramatically improve sound quality then why bother? I like the EarPods the way are.
  • See my comment above, if it happens, what if it's about more than sound? Maybe a port that does audio, video, and something for external devices in automobiles, airline seatbacks, medical devices, or AR/VR hardware?
  • Sounds like...oh maybe usb-c?
  • Lightning the way it is would also do. The technology is in place. No need to remove 3.5 ports though.
  • I have some Bluetooth Beats PowerBeats 2's that I use to run when it is warm. I also just bought a winter hat with built-in Bluetooth headphones for when it's cold. I use a pair of Bluetooth Motorola S11's for casual listening. What I'm trying to say, I wouldn't miss the headphone jack in the least. I love the freedoms of wireless.
  • If everyone own an iPhone have a Bluetooth headset then maybe it's true. But I don't think that's the case. Further more it would make audiophile (like those people really takes music seriously, and what if they own dozens of high end wired headphone?) stay away from it. Posted from my Samsung Galaxy S6
  • I think they better remove the lighting port altogether and make it only wireless charging option (since now iPhone can connect to iTunes via wifi). So no port on the phone at all. Posted from my Samsung Galaxy S6
  • I use earphones regularly. The 3.5 mm plug has always been the initial point of failure for all the devices that I use earphones with. Walkman, cell phone, iPod, iPad, iPhone. They just aren't designed to be durable. The internal contacts depend on spring action to maintain a good electrical connection. Well, those contacts loosen up after a year or two of everyday use. All springs lose their springiness. Especially flimsily designed components like the 3.5 mm plug. The Lightning port uses friction rather than spring action to maintaining electrical contact. I expect they will be more durable. I say good riddance on the 3.5 mm jack!
  • For every 3.5 jack failure, there are probably three Lightning port failures reported. Just search the various support forums. I've had contact problems (for lack of better term) with the Lightning port on my previous iPhone that required it to be taken back to the Apple Store, and all I ever did was use the iPhone for messages and mail while it was plugged in. On the other, hand I've had virtually no failures with any of the 3.5mm jacks used throughout my life, and I use my in-ear monitors daily, often plugging them out of my desktop amp and into my portable player and back again on a daily basis. Until Apple contracts a company like Oyaide or Neutrik to make Lightning ports and plugs, I won't be placing much confidence in their robustness. I'm not saying the 3.5 jack should stay, but if we are to get a wired replacement, it needs to be far more robust than what they currently offer with Lightning.
  • I disagree. I used the 3.mm jack daily for years on my 5s. I've also been using the same Shure IEMs without failure for the 3 years I've had them. In my 20 years of buying and using personal audio equipment I've never once had a failure down to the 3.5mm jack. Sent from the iMore App
  • You’ve forgotten the Corroded Contactgate they had in the early days?
  • Who cares if its old, the fact its been around so damn long is a testament to its reliability. The question is it a upgrade, does it improve our way of life in any conceivable way? Is there a reason that a multi billion dollar industry that specializes in audio technology have somehow overlooked an advantage that apple has discovered? The answer is no, we can justify some of the other moves by apple in the past, i mean getting rid of the floppy disk was something that had too happen. But this, this doesn't help the consumer. The way forward from the 3.5mm jack is wireless technology not a separate wired standard. If anything this will push more people toward bluetooth or away from iphone entirely, but will apple give us more battery to compensate? Probably not. Its not like lightning connectors are foolproof, we've all had to throw away a couple cords because the connector has gone bad. Technologically speaking this is a step backwards, we would all take a thicker phone if it has the stuff we want in it.
  • Would love to see the 3.5 mm jack gone. Would much rather have bluetooth or even better NFC or wifi audio. I wouldn't want a choice between charging phone and listening to music. The key would be that the next earpods would have to be wireless. For myself since I have have tried wireless headphones, I would never buy anything else wired again.
  • I'd be surprised if they aren't testing a phone without, not only a 3.5mm headphone jack, but also without a lightning port. We already know Apple tries to waterproof the iPhone as best they can now. If they believe wireless charging is fast enough it wouldn't surprise me to see them go all-in and essentially invent wireless charging as far as most consumers are concerned (and yes piss off a lot of their current customers again a la the 30-pin to Lightning switch).
  • It'll be a strange but beautiful day when there is no port or physical button on an iPhone. Only Apple. Sent from the iMore App
  • Well, here's to hoping they ditch bezels first - it is a shame the 6s Plus, the best iPhone ever, has to be so tall and wide - you could easily go 6" screen or shrink eh whole thing...
  • Nice article. I suggest adding a blurb stating the original iPhone (gen 1) had a 2.5mm jack (quickly removed in gen 2)
  • Take my headphone jack, but give me a second lightning port at the top. Only then will my hunger be sated.
  • I'm all for Apple moving on from the 3.5mm jack. Technology moves forward, we will all adapt an move on with our lives. This is very similar to the complaints about the Lightning port, and we all survived that transition. On another note, Rene, why in the world do you have an Android app for iMore? It's getting impossible to participate in a thread without reading mindless trolling from Fandroid idiots.
  • Probably because not everyone is full in the IOS ecosystem. Some people may use various OS's.
  • If they did, it would be more to force MFI licenses than actual technological advances.
  • Well... the future looks like USB-C to me. Everything simplified with that unique port. You can connect there the Headphones. Rumors around say that, USB-C is going to replace lightning and the 3.5mm jack. But would this be the right move after only 3-4 years of the lightning port? And maybe changes like this could make more room for battery. We need urgently better batteries, I almost live with my cable as much as with my phone. ¬¬"
  • They had not foreseen the usb-c will take off. And now they are stuck with this lightning port. It will make them look very bad to ask all their existing customer to ditch away the not-so-old cable the 2nd time (in order to upgrade to the new iphone). As simple as that. Posted from my Samsung Galaxy S6
  • They had foreseen it would take off, thats why they made the Macbook with USB C
  • Why would USB-C replace lightning on mobile devices when it takes up more space? I don't see that as very likely at all. Also, USB-C (which Apple had either a hand in developing, or pre-release knowledge of, depending on who you believe), was in the works at the same time as lightning. Why would Apple have even gone with lightning if they thought USB-C was better? A more likely end game would be adding lightning to the USB spec, or lightning eclipsing the USB spec. There is basically no reason at all why a (slightly modified) lightning cable couldn't carry anything that thunderbolt, HDMI, USB, etc. can carry. The only relevant spec here is size and lightning is smaller.
  • Why do you think the 3.5mm headphone jack has lasted so long? Because it works. It works well. It's simple and can't easily be screwed up. Not something I see a need to replace.
  • Your username matches this statement. You can't be afraid of change, sure 3.5mm works but it's old, and can be improved on a lot. Floppies worked well when Apple got rid of the floppy drives, but they were preparing for the future, same as now
  • Why should I have pick between charging my phone and using headphones. I plug my phone and then I can listen to music and not have to pick. I like the idea of wireless headphones of course but that is one more thing I have to worry about charging. If I want to exercise and my headphones are dead I am SOL. Also battery cases will become a waste of money. I want to use a battery case but not if I can't use the headphone jack easily. It would mess with a lot of people. I hope they not so it. Sent from the iMore App
  • Unless Apple also goes to a partly plastic body with wireless charging, I'd hate ditching the 3.5mm connector - it's how I connect to my home stereo as well as one of my cars, to say nothing of listening to podcasts at night while charging it back up. All that gone, and one of them can't be fixed by an adaptor. If it ain't broke.... The future can and should lead to progress and maybe even increasing simplicity - but it shouldn't go there by a significant sacrifice in functionality.
  • Oh please don't use "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". You'd still be using incredibly old computers and brick phones if you believe this. Technology moves on, the 3.5mm has to go
  • These things are thin enough. I want more battery life.
  • I still have in a drawer my 2.5 to 3.5 dongle from the BlackBerry Pearl and USB to 3.5 dongle from the HTC Touch Pro (aka Diamond). As is usually the case, using the dongle wasn't as bad as critics charged. I obviously never lost one since I still have them. But it was not as frictionless as the manufacturers wanted you to believe, either. Kind of having a sense of deja vu with the 12" MacBook now. Living with a single USB Type C port isn't as awful as the critics claim it is, but it isn't as painless as Apple would have you believe either. I suspect a 3.5 jack-less iPhone will follow a similar pattern.
  • Fair view. Agree with you. Posted from my Samsung Galaxy S6
  • Its probably because currently Apple don't have any control over the 3.5 mm jack so you can use even a $1 earphone. Once the audio is through the lightening port they would be able to control it to allow only apple certified earphones and mint a lot of money. And by chance if you manage to buy a cheap 3rd party lightening earphone you may get this message on your phone screen "This Earphone/Headphone is Not Certified and May Not Work Reliably".
  • I'm assuming that you're implying that this is a good thing, which it is. At least if someone buys earphones and receives the message "This Earphone/Headphone is Not Certified and May Not Work Reliably", and the earphones are crap quality or break 1 month down the line, they can't say they weren't warned
  • No I am not implying that it is a good thing. Getting this message "This Earphone/Headphone is Not Certified and May Not Work Reliably" means the earphone will not work at all leave alone "may not work reliably" as apple will block it. What I am pointing out is the desire to control in order to mint money. Till now Apple was not getting any margin from the earphones being used with the iPhone be it $1 or $1000 but as soon as they move it to the lightening port they will start getting royalties from the vendors which will obviously spike the cost of those earphones. And who is the loser here - we the consumers.
  • So .. based on *no* actual evidence at all, you're saying it's because of issues of money, control and power. I think that says more about YOU than it does about the topic at hand.
    The picture you chose for your account makes me almost certain of this. :-)
  • I hate this idea because it sounds like a very expensive way to only be able to buy headphones Apple makes a profit on. The only thing worse than this would be to have to use an expensive adaptor too--this is why I don't use a battery case--adapters get lost even more easily than earbuds. I use earbuds a lot and lose them a lot. I also buy the new iPhone every year but I can't see this continuing--this might be a deal breaker for me and the iPhone.
  • It's not up to Apple to decide when a technology is outdated, it's up to the consumer. I've grown tired of Apple removing features in the name of progress when in fact they are really limiting usability in the name of profit. I'm a long time Apple user, but I have to wonder sometimes where this company is headed. We are being given laptops without ports, keyboards without play, and maybe someday a phone that needs an ugly dongle because Apple "thinks" it's time to move on. My future dollars may say otherwise. Sent from the iMore App
  • It's not up to the consumer because the consumer will continue to use outdated technology without realising there's something better, solely because the current thing still "works"
  • Headphone jacks?, who cares we should all be wireless by now. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'd rather keep it simple! That said, I'd rather go wireless...! Thank yo
  • When Bluetooth and Lightning port headphones have better sound quality than the 3.5 mm jack, let me know. I just don't think we are there yet.
  • Thank you for asking. Thank you for asking me.
  • This is the first time that I am focusing and keep my Mac fully updated and using the "state of the art" tools.
  • That's all, Folks!! A delightful experience being guided by experts so knowledgeable ones!! Cheers, and Thank You! May you all, have a great day!! Sincerely, Maria Teresa Aicardi
  • My only issue is that I usually use the headphones that the phone comes with in my macbook or other things. I remember when older dummy phones came with their proprietary headphones and what a joy it was to transition to 3.5mm and using ANY headphone when it breaks. Now I have to buy an adapter? Personally, I don't think they'll remove it any time soon but what do I know.
  • I like my iphone 6 but i can honestly say, I would not buy any phone without a 3.5 mm jack at this point as i've no interest in buying more headphones or limiting my headphone options in the future. Apple has slowly been going in a different direction to my interest in terms of software design and decisions so the truth is even before i bought the iphone 6 i was very much considering other phones. I like my iphone 6 and i'm not looking to buy another phone soon but i'm not wedded to anything Apple. When it stops fitting my needs i'll switch. That day seems closer and closer.
  • Get rid of the phone jack and anything wired included charging .... Make everything wireless .... Sent from the iMore App
  • Except wireless charging would *add* a millimetre to the thickness, which kind of makes replacing the audio-jack a moot point. You'd have an 8 mm phone and the audio jack fits in everything down to 5mm. Changing the lightning port into a "smart connector" makes more sense than wireless charging.
  • We all know the jack will be replaced someday, it's just a matter of time. I'd like to put forward the obvious idea, (because it's often left out in the analyses I've seen), that a better candidate than "lightning headphones" is actually Apple's patent on a "D" shaped analogue audio jack. The reasons being: 1) the current audio jack works all the way down to 5 millimetres (iPod touch) so there is no reason to get rid of it yet on a phone that will be at least 6 or 7 mm thick for the next few years anyway.
    2) the "D" jack would shave another millimetre off that taking us all the way to a 4mm thick phone (2023?)
    3) the "D" jack would be backwards compatible with all other devices.
    4) the adapter from a "D" jack socket to a regular mini-jack would definitely be the smallest adapter based solution. So the "D" jack would solve the problem we have now while giving us at least a five year period where the other manufacturers could start to transition towards an alternative. "D" jack headphones would work in all other products and any old pair of headphones would also work with the addition of an almost microscopically small, *analogue* adapter. If they go with the lightning port, it won't be for size, it will be for DRM and perhaps other digital reasons. The "D" jack is actually more sensible and a better solution for users if the only criteria is how thin you can make the phone.
  • This would be a welcome change Sent from the iMore App
  • Has anyone noticed that Apple started removing the audio jack years ago? I have 30 pin and lightning charging stands and at the back of them is an AUDIO port. The audio is coming out the charging connector, not the 3.5mm headphone jack... I admit I don't know whether the signal is analog or digital, and I don't know where to find a definitive answer, but if it's digital, we're most of the way there to removing the jack. If it's analog, then it should be a reasonably simple matter for Apple to incorporate a decent A/D converter into their cords. After all, the lightning cords already include a chip to verify it's a genuine Apple cord, so how hard could it be? Just sayin...
  • Re moving an analogue input from an iDevice artificially cripples it with every alternative costing more and doing less. Analogue in is the method to connect anything audio to an iDevice without bending to Apple's whim as to what a standard is. It would essentially cripple the devices in question, while providing a more expensive non-standard substitute.
  • In my personal opinion, I feel that the headphone jack is quite a dated port. Compared to say something like USB C, which can do basically everything you could want, it's an incredibly big part of the phone. It is quite a dated port, and I think someone has to be brave enough to move on. If no one will get rid of it, and provide a suitable means of transition, then we'll be stuck with a huge port dedicated to one thing.... I think looking back, Apple were right to remove the 30 pin connector, and even android manufacturers are changing to USB C, which would also mean a lot of accessories going in the bin, or spending money on adapters. Someone has to kickstart the next generation in technology, and (I don't want to sound like an Apple fanboy here) Apple probably have some of the biggest influence in the smartphone market. If they change something (even something as drastic as this), i'm sure it will catch on, and in a few years time, we'll be there with our much more convenient phones. No hate please, just expressing my opinion! :)
  • I am a professional musician and recording studio engineer. Earbuds are the least of my worries. I use the audio output ("headphone") jack to output directly to PA systesm for music during breaks. Also, lots of solo musicians use this jack for backing tracks on their PA's. I also use this output for playing music through my studio's audio system. Performing at a gig using bluetooth is both lower quality audio and unreliable. You cannot expect professional musicians to rely on any type of wireless transmission. Musicians do use wireless microphone systems but the reliable ones they use are non bluetooth and expensive. If this jack is removed, they MUST supply us with a direct wire analog option.