Apple’s New iPhones Don’t Have Headphone Jacks, Because “Courage”
We’ve reached the point in the iPhone’s evolution where the latest generations are more notable for features they don’t sport than for any they do.
Apple on Wednesday announced the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and as expected, they look a lot like their immediate predecessors. Also as expected, based on a preponderance of credible rumors: They’re the first iPhones to dispense with an analog headphone jack.
In place of the venerable 3.5mm port, Apple proposes two alternatives.
First, the new phones will come boxed with a set of earbuds that connect via the Lightning port, as well as an adaptor for your old headphones. Yes, the Lightning port is the same one you use to charge the phone. Yes, that means you won’t be able to charge the phone and listen to headphones at the same time.
Second, Apple will begin pushing wireless earbuds, which you’ll have to buy separately if you want them. Conveniently, Apple now owns Beats, which specializes in making headphones, a new line of which will be wireless.
Conveniently for them, I mean. Not for you.
Apple will also launch its own brand of wireless earbuds, called Airpods. (I was rooting for Airbuds.) These come with a chip that Apple says will allow them to switch seamlessly between your iPhone and Apple Watch, and to pair with your devices without the hassle of Bluetooth. These will set you back $159, or “just $159,” as Apple VP Phil Schiller half-heartedly put it. They look nifty, and they just might be the future, if for no other reason than that Apple has decreed them thus.
Apple’s own explanation for the change was a little baffling. Schiller said the rationale for jettisoning the headphone jack could be summed up in one word: “courage.” What kind of courage? “The courage to move on, and to try something new that betters all of us,” he elaborated. OK then!
For the most part, though, we knew or suspected all of this going into Wednesday’s event. So for those mourning their soon-to-be obsolete headphones, the real question was: What would Apple offer in exchange?
Well, for one thing, you can now drop your iPhone in the toilet. I mean, you could do that before, but now when you get it back out, there’s a decent chance it will continue to function. Eliminating the headphone jack enabled Apple to seal the phone at last, making it “dust and water resistant,” albeit not fully waterproof.