Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

There Sure Is a Lot of Smoke Coming From This Headphone Jack Rumour

Remember that Macotakara report from November that ignited the headphone jack removal rumour?

Apple seems to plan removing the headset jack from the next iPhone 7, according to a reliable source.

Screen shape such as radius will be kept, however, it will very likely be more than 1 mm thinner than the current model.

Supplied Ear Pods will equip a Lightning connector, which means a DA (Digital to Analog) converter is required. The DA will be built in the Lightning connector without sacrificing the size, according to the source.

As I pointed out at the time, Macotakara’s singular source would have had to be a very senior Apple staffer to know all of the details of this move, which made the entirety of the report untrustworthy. But the thrust of it — that Apple was removing the headphone jack from the next iPhone — seems to be gaining momentum.

Mark Sullivan of Fast Company said yesterday that one of their sources also confirmed the removal of the headphone jack. However, John Gruber noted that Sullivan’s report breaks down when it comes to the details:

Some media reports have suggested that Apple will include a set of Lightning-connected EarPod earphones in the box with the iPhone 7. It’s more likely, our source says, that Apple will sell a more expensive pair of noise-canceling, Lightning-connected, earphones or headphones separately — possibly under its Beats brand.

This is madness. Beats will almost certainly sell a wide assortment of Lightning headphones if the iPhone goes Lightning-only, but Apple has to include a pair of Lightning or Bluetooth earbuds in the box. It would be madness not to.

Unlike Sullivan, Mark Gurman has a reputation for accuracy and detail. He reports:

As has been previously rumored, sources confirm that the iPhone 7 will not include a standard headphone jack and will instead require headphones to connect via the Lightning connector or wirelessly over Bluetooth. The ability for headphones to connect over Lightning has been included in iOS since 2014, and new EarPods will support this.

This is already causing ripples among my shit-disturbing acquaintances, but I don’t expect it to be an issue in the real world — most iPhone users that I know use Apple’s EarPods anyway.

I, however, do not. And, much as I had hoped that Apple’s replacement for the headphone jack would not be a proprietary solution, I knew deep down that it would be. At the very least, that presents an opportunity for Apple to redesign their surprisingly good IEMs, as well as introduce something new. Gurman, again:

With its resources from the 2014 acquisition of headphone maker Beats Electronics, Apple is prototyping a completely new set of Bluetooth earphones with the potential of launching the accessory alongside the iPhone 7 this fall. The new earphones are said to be completely wireless, which is to say that they do not even have a cable connecting the left and right ear pieces.

I’ve promised myself not to form any opinion on these until they launch.

Update: Another good article from Peter Kirn at Create Digital Music:

There are two common misunderstandings of the news. One reading (from Apple critics) assumes this locks you into proprietary Apple headphones. It doesn’t. The other (from Apple fans who don’t know that much about audio) assumes higher audio fidelity from “digital” headphones. It probably doesn’t mean that, either (there are some benefits to putting the digital-to-analog converters off the device, but no indication yet that will necessarily mean better sound).

I wonder what will become of the headphone jacks inside Macs, too. Do they get a Lightning port?