carter_craterApple removing the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 has me unhappy, but the misconceptions around it have me angrier. I thought trying to read Polygon talking about mobile games made me angry, but then I read tech journalists totally flounder when explaining what Apple going to Lightning for audio would mean, and it has me furious. Claims of "infinite improvements in sound quality" and that the 3.5mm jack was a "bottleneck for improvements in audio quality." Look, I accept that there are potential benefits to digital connections for headphones, but I am not for intellectually dishonest arguments. And when it comes to removing the headphone jack, there's a lot of garbage being spewed. When Phil Schiller says that it took "courage" to remove the headphone jack, maybe that should have been the thing that convinced you that it was stupid. Or maybe it was the fact that his brain didn't immediately escape his body from having said something so stupid. It's because I think too many people misunderstand the nature of how headphones and digital audio work, making it easy for companies like Apple to claim that removing the headphone jack is somehow better for people. And I don't think that people, even tech journalists that you hope would know better, are idiots. Understanding digital audio and headphones are difficult unless you dive deep into the topics like I have been doing the past year or so, and even audiophiles have plenty of debates over sound-related topics to where getting a clear answer on anything is nigh-impossible. But it's because of this confusion that nobody but mad geeks like me understand why people are getting screwed over, and that Apple can get away with it. Removing the headphone jack isn't all bad, there are some benefits and if you don't mind the drawbacks of Bluetooth audio, it's okay, but people ought to be mad about this.

crying-jordan-earpods

For starters, going to Lightning won't inherently make headphones sound better. There's certainly a theoretical advantage to separating audio components from the noisy internals of the modern smartphone where interference can have an impact on sound quality, but it's certainly possible to make a good-sounding smartphone. Apple did it with the iPhone 6 Plus, after all. It's a reasonably powerful, low-noise audio source.

This isn't like moving from floppy disks to CD drives, removing optical drives entirely, or even like the transition to digital video and HDMI. The 3.5mm jack, antiquated though it may be, can handle 32-bit, 384 kHz audio, even non-standard audio formats like DSD. All the 3.5mm jack does is transmit power to headphones in such a way that the drivers generate the sound waves at the volume (which is just power) that you want to listen at. It's not magical. All that Lightning audio is doing is offloading the digital-to-analog conversion and headphone amplification to offboard components. That's it. There's always going to be the digital-to-analog converter (or DAC) that turns digital data into physical sound waves, and the amplifier that provides power to the transducers that create sound on the other end. Lightning audio is no magical advance in technology, it's just rearranging where the audio components are. And the analog jack itself has no inherent quality bottleneck. You can buy what well-respected headphone expert Tyll Hertsens calls the world's best headphone for $4000 in the Focal Utopia. Not only will it work with a 3.5mm headphone jack (like many high-end headphones, they come with a 6.3mm plug, but 6.3mm to 3.5mm connectors are easy to find), but an iPhone can drive them to great volume. Sure, you'd want to use high-quality DACs and amplifiers with them to provide more accurate and/or more pleasing sound, but you don't have to. You could plug $4000 headphones into your current iPhone and have a great time, because the most important part of great sound is the device that's providing the sound. The 3.5mm connection has nothing to do with audio quality, and there's no reason why it couldn't be used for another hundred years.

focal-utopia

You might see comparisons of video's transition to HDMI with digital audio. And yes, going from analog video to digital video connections made a lot of sense! It enabled for crisp transmission of high-definition video (and audio!) through a single cable. Here's the thing though: audio already had its big digital transition when the Red Book audio format was first introduced in 1980. It standardized 16-bit, 44.1 kHz digital pulse code modulation audio for storage on compact discs. And that format represents the entirety of audible frequencies, and 16 bits of resolution are more than enough dynamic range for practical purposes. There is virtually no practical benefit to higher bit depths or sampling rates for the average consumer. 24-bit makes sense on a consumer level for digital volume control without losing audio resolution, and for audio professionals to work with digital effects that may generate noise that can be shaved off when producing the final 16-bit product. But it's literally impossible for digital-to-analog converters to actually render all 24 bits of audio resolution, at best right now you can get 21 bits of resolution from high-end components using military-grade chips. And it's possible that at worst, higher sampling frequencies provide worse sound quality through trying to render ultrasonic frequencies. If you're curious to read more, this article says a lot. It was written by Chris "Monty" Montgomery, who invented the Vorbis audio codec, so he knows a thing or two about digital audio. Plus, all the music you buy through virtually every digital retailer is 16-bit, 44.1 kHz, often just compressed for digital distribution. Compression has gotten so much better since the days of 128 kbps mp3s on Napster to the point where detecting the difference between a well-encoded compressed music file and lossless CD-quality file is difficult to do in a double-blind A/B test. Lossless audio has benefits for archiving, and perhaps compression artifacts like pre-ringing echoes before cymbal hits become more apparent with music that the listener is highly familiar with, but that's picking nits. As an audiophile, I can speak from personal experience: that kind of nit-picking is not a worthwhile road to go down.

Plus, the very nature of using mobile devices in noisy public spaces means that chasing additional sound quality over say an ideal-sounding iPhone headphone jack is full of rapidly diminishing returns. To quote Chicago-based sound designer George Hufnagl, "arguing for better sound quality makes sense when listening in isolation, nor for a mobile device directly affected by ambient noise." As a personal example, I was using some Audio-Technica ATH-IM02 in-ear monitors that are rather sensitive to noise and provide 31 dB of noise isolation. I was using them with a Fiio Q1 combo DAC and headphone amplifier for the longest time, until one day I was using them at home, and noticed a very low level hissing from the Q1 that I couldn't hear when I was at Starbucks. It took me months to notice this micro-detail that I could hear at home in a much quieter environment. Essentially, from a mobile device, there's only so far you can go with sound quality improvements versus an at-home setup.

Hufnagl continues in discussion of mobile audio quality: "Audio quality as a feature makes great sense as a bullet point. I'd argue, however, that our perception of it is affected not only by environmental circumstances, but by Apple's incredible branding. Of course, we want to reproduce source audio faithfully, but the average listener does not critically listen to audio in the same way a sound engineer has been trained to do. Unless the new iPhone is marketed towards audiophiles (it's not), then for me, the argument for the removal of the headphone jack as an increase in audio quality is moot."

iphone-7-headphone-dongle

In fact, it's quite possible that personal audio will get worse thanks to the transition to digital. Apple's DACs are generally considered to be pretty good. Not super-great, but of acceptable quality. A standalone DAC might have less noise from electrical interference, lower distortion, and perhaps a particular tonal balance to it. But the reality is that an iOS device does a better job than many consumer-grade, non-specialist electronics at converting the ones and zeroes of digital audio into the analog signals that represent sound. Now, more than ever, DAC and amplifier work is being shouldered onto companies that have less experience with designing good-sounding components in tight spaces like Apple does. At least with an internal headphone jack, and an annoying dongle, there's the potential for a good baseline of quality. Something that's good enough for even many audiophiles like myself to prefer the simplicity of an iOS device's onboard headphone jack to an external solution when convenience is more important.

When it comes to stuffing electronics into headphones, it's worth considering that headphones are a unique audio challenge compared to freestanding speakers. They're very difficult to tune well not only of the small space even the largest over-ear headphones have to work with, but also because headphones have to compensate for the acoustic effects that sounds have on your head, ears, and even your torso. Basically, sound entering the ear canal is transformed as it goes in to your ears, to where sounds from speakers with perfectly flat frequency response (in theory) will sound different from headphones with the identical frequency response. It is possible to tune headphones to compensate for this with head-related transfer functions (HRTF), but there are several competing theories on HRTF compensation, and every ear is different, so any compensation is bound to be imperfect. Regardless, headphones will never offer the same physical effects that good speakers can have as far as spatialization goes because when you hear stereo speakers, the left ear hears some of the right speaker and vice versa. Simulations of this through virtual surround and crossfeed exist, but nothing perfect has been invented yet.

apple-airpods-laydown

Headphones also present unique acoustic design challenges before you talk about adding additional electronics to them. The best, world-class, cost-is-no-object headphones are open-backed, meaning they leak sound and aren't meant for public usage. Closed back headphones present unique challenges for making good sound, as the rear driver coverings can have audible effects on ringing and resonance, though they do have a benefits when it comes to bass. Now, if headphone designers, already contending with the intrinsic challenges of closed-back headphones that many consumers want, have to deal with tuning sound around built-in electronics, sound quality is going to suffer when closed-back acoustics are an issue as it is.

For the acoustic reasons mentioned above, Bluetooth is often a challenge to make sound good. For example, V-Moda makes a great basshead headphone in the M-100. They made a wireless version of the headphone in the Crossfade Wireless, and it has sound flaws that the M-100 does not, such as a more uneven frequency response, plus it had to sacrifice features like the folding mechanism that the wired-only M-100 has. As well, Bluetooth itself has inherent sound quality issues, as Bluetooth audio is compressed itself. So, you're taking compressed audio, and compressing it even further, and transmitting it to headphones that have made acoustic sacrifices to fit in the Bluetooth receiver, digital-to-analog converter, amplifier for the headphones, and microphone in them. Not to mention that you're often getting high-latency sound that doesn't work well for games and movies, and Bluetooth pairing still sucks. Apple's solution for pairing? A proprietary wireless chip.

apple-airpods-connect_01

And that's the thing that's annoying about the wired alternative now being Lightning: it's a proprietary connector. If Apple had announced that they were going USB-C with the iPhone 7, that would be fine. It would be pushing toward a new universal standard for mobile and desktop devices. You could theoretically buy a USB-C audio adapter and have it work wherever you go. The transition to USB-C would rough for a few years, but I imagine by 2020 nobody would be complaining becuase USB-C would be ubiquitous. But by going Lightning, Apple's making it so that any headphone that wants to interface with an iOS device has to have someone pay an Apple tax somewhere along the line.

And there's reason why companies might be skittish to deal with Apple, which requires companies to submit electronic schematics as part of the "Made for iPhone" licensing program. So, if you're a headphone manufacturer that doesn't want people to have to use a dongle with your headphones, you have to submit to Apple, and reveal your electronic schematics to Apple. Apple, as you may well know, owns the headphone company Beats. Apple has a tendency to copy companies that make products for them to the point that the term Sherlocking exists. So if you're a company that invents an effective solution to get technology in a headphone with few acoustic drawbacks, or got a way to get a low-power, high-quality sound component developed, you could be handing your detailed designs to Apple, who could easily steal them. Chord, a high-end audio company, cited this as a concern in not making their Mojo DAC/amp go through the MFi program, especially since they use a custom design built on an FPGA board.

chord-mojo

I'm not going to completely dismiss the benefits of going to digital connections with headphones. Features such as digital sound processing could become in greater use in wired headphones if manufacturers get direct access to the digital signal with ease. Headphone manufacturer Audeze includes a DSP chip in their Cipher cable headphones that connect via Lightning. Noise cancellation headphones could exist without external batteries, instead getting power straight from the device. Fitness sensors in headphones could directly communicate with devices. Headphones with microphones that could perform head-related transfer functions on a per-user basis could exist in audiophile-friendly wired form for mobile. Something like the Ossic X only reaches peak performance on PC. I am excited by the potential with in-ear monitors (which are often colloquially called earbuds but are different from earbuds by way of going into your ear canal) in particular. The Revols that use a power connection to form a custom foam mold for your ears similar to what custom in-ear monitors do for superior fit and isolation compared to universal IEMs. If this technology could exist with high-end custom IEM manufacturers, it would be exciting. Instead of having to go to an audiologist to get molds made and mailed off, anyone could have custom IEMs made in a minute. Right now, to do this all in a wired fashion is difficult, which is why the Revols use Bluetooth, in part because they already have the battery right there. With a single digital connection for power and audio, perhaps a wired variant could exist. As well, many in-ear monitors often are made in such a way that they are sensitive to the output impedance of audio devices, where the frequency response can be negatively affected. With digital connections, IEMs could be made to have perfect frequency response from any device they can connect to. Just a shame that you could have a pair that only works with your iOS devices, as opposed to everything you own that plays audio.

And don't believe the lie that the headphone jack had to be removed to make the phone waterproof. Did anyone see the Samsung ads where Lil Wayne pours a bunch of champagne on his phone to show how waterproof it is? Spoiler alert: it has a headphone jack. As TrustedReviews explains:

"The S7 has a rubber seal around the charging port and headphone jack to keep water out. To prevent water ingress through the speaker holes, Samsung has added a screen behind the holes that stops water getting in but still allows sound waves to get out."

Maybe Apple needs to steal from Samsung for once.

I suppose it's not all bad, we'll all just acquiesce to the new reality of having to buy $9 dongles and $40 charging adapters like this Belkin one that splits a Lightning port into two Lightning ports. But what sucks is that it's another trade-off in the world of audio being made for the benefit of corporations with the "courage" to cut costs in their phones and induce more spending into costly licensing programs where the costs will be passed on to consumers. Already, the dynamics have been sucked out of music thanks to the "loudness war," and the need to make music sound good when it's being compressed for digital distribution, to be played back on devices with weak speakers and headphone amplifiers, often with pack-in earbuds and IEMs of questionable quality. Now, companies are trying to make it harder than ever to just use any headphones that they don't profit off of because, well, they know they can get away with it.

Maybe you say you'll be fine with it. But I remember when the Game Boy Advance SP came out without a headphone jack and I had to use a dongle to get headphone audio? It was annoying, and as a charger jack was being used as a dual-purpose audio jack, it was not the most ideal solution. And nowadays, if I ever want to play my GBA SP, I can't do so with headphones as the dongles I had were lost to history. And I had forgotten to bring the dongle with me plenty of times before. And that was with a nonessential, secondary device. The day's going to come when maybe you just want to take a pair of earbuds with you heading out the door, and you'll forget the dongle. Or you'll bring a laptop to a coffee shop and you pull out your headphones, and you only have ones that work with your iPhone. Or you want to play music in your friend's car and they don't have a dongle, so too bad! And even with Bluetooth headphones, who hasn't forgotten to charge them before, and then suddenly they died while out on a walk? And do you really trust that the Lightning headphones you buy today will work with iOS 11, or 12, if the manufacturer decides to stop updating the firmware? Are these grand crimes against humanity? No. But they are annoyances that you will be made to put up with only because enough people at Apple thought they could get away with it.

So here's the question: will you let them get away with it? There's a lot of great new features in the iPhone 7. But is it worth the new annoyances you'll have to put up with, where the solutions mostly benefit them? Unless they decide someday to push for the universal USB-C standard, then I say no. I know there are many people who don't care, but I think they should because this is as blatant an anti-consumer move that Apple has ever done. And I hope enough people say to Apple that this is unacceptable that they have to think carefully not only about bringing the headphone jack back in the 7S, but about any potentially anti-consumer moves that they consider in the future.

  • gaberaph

    Lol it's the Game Boy Advance SP all over again, that made me giggle!

  • Brendan Charles

    I can't believe I'm saying this, but I really agree with you, Carter.

  • Remote_

    Good read, Carter. And completely agree, as a person who's been deeply engrossed in music, audio and production for decades.

  • Zerol3onheart

    I thought people complaining where just being whiners with garbage reasons for crying about this. Then I read this article. Even if the masses don't understand what's happening, it's happening nonetheless and it's important. Thanks for posting this. Great article.

  • Ghostwalker

    I think it's funny that Motorola already did this same thing with the Droid Moto Z in July, and no one cared.

    • Evan

      because its android and there is a choice, if you didnt want that one then just go buy any of the other great android phones out there. However with apple your locked into their ecosystem if you want to keep using all the apps you have, when your now faced with an eventual upgrade down the line that removes that jack people can tend to be a little pissed.

      It may not affect them immediately but knowing that at some point in the future when ios has rendered their once fast and speedy device to a slowly chugging brick that at that point they will lose their jack

      • bhayes444

        Even with Apple you have a choice. You can choose not to buy their stuff anymore. People argue that they're "locked" into the Apple ecosystem, but they really aren't. They just don't want to face the facts that they'd have to spend money to get out of it, or change their habits in a way that makes them more platform independent. The worst mentality to have in a situation like this is to tell yourself that because you have all the Apple stuff then you might as well just keep on buying Apple stuff because it's easier. If you really don't like it then just change. Sure it is difficult, but that's life.

      • Ghostwalker

        If you stuck with Apple long enough to obsolete a 6s waiting for them to put the jack back on a phone instead of just biting the bullet and switching to Android, you would be a complete moron.

    • Nicely Donne

      Heck, just last week Samsung shipped phones that LITERALLY caught fire and exploded, and they're getting .001% of the outrage that this has.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Apple outrage is *absurdly* good for business in the world of online publishing.

      • rickinsav

        Because the customer base follows the same ratio.

      • Manfred Higgs

        Samsung didn't set out to have their batteries explode, it sucks but this will be fixed. Apple's blatantly anti-consumer / ultra greedy move is not the same thing at all.

    • Godspoken

      The Moto Z also uses USB-C, a universal standard. The headphones you plug into your Moto Z can also be plugged in to your MacBook, and Motorola isn't cashing in on proprietary dongles.

      There's also the simple fact that very few people will ever buy a Moto Z compared to an iPhone.

      • static66

        Apple isn't cashing in on dongles either, they are including it for free in the box with the phone along with a brand spanking new set of lightning earbuds.

        Use whatever headphones you like. Guess what.. your existing and future bluetooth headphones still work too.

        The fact is that bluetooth headphones are outselling by a HUGE margin all wired headphones. Apples's move makes a lot of sense.

      • Bj

        Apple isn't cashing in on dongles?!? If you want to charge your phone and listen to headphones at the same time, you have to buy a $40 dongle .

        If you lose the dongle that comes with the phone (which seems inevitable), you have to buy another dongle.

      • Quinn Omar

        It's $9, fucktard. Get your facts right.

      • Bj

        Whether they're $9 or $40, Apple is cashing in on the fact they took away the headphone jack. Which is my point.

      • http://about.me/wondroushippo Carter Dotson

        Yeah, pretty much. This whole article wouldn't exist if Apple had gone to USB-C. The transition would be a bit rough but again – it's pushing toward a universal standard that's ultimately good for everyone.

      • Procrastin8

        Except the port is physically bigger. Apple is in the business of miniaturizing to the max on the iphone, so no, usb-c doesn't make a lot of sense here.

      • gonif

        They're in the business of "miniaturizing to the max on iPhone" solely to make more space for a battery. Maybe if they put some of their boffins on the task of improving battery technology rather than designing proprietary hardware interfaces, they wouldn't have to be quite so concerned with making room inside iPhones. But, of course, a better battery might be of benefit to everyone, not just Apple, so that's never going to happen

      • Érico Galindo

        Minituarizing everything is actually what doesn't make sense here.

      • Edwin Ramirez

        USB-C would have made a lot of sense. Apple business isn't in miniaturizing to the max;it´s not letting their customers reach out to the rest of the world. That´s why their cables have always been, and will always be, proprietary.

      • Ghostwalker

        How many new devices are using USB-C though? It's not the widely adopted standard yet, is it? That's not a speedy process to change over. Besides, they are getting $9 for the adaptor, that's not exactly "cashing in" as you put it. In a year you'll buy them for $1 at the Walmart checkout.
        I see your point though, they began this blunder when they switched to lightning to begin with.
        What are you going to do? This has been Apple's problem since the inception of the company, they have ALWAYS been a proprietary hardware, closed software environment company. Until I bought an 120gb iPod classic a few years back, I swore I'd never own an Apple ANYTHING...and they just reminded me why. They continue to be the Betamax of the electronics world.

      • Mess

        They will need to be at least $4 to be certified. As that's how much Apple charge you to get that little badge.

      • Ghostwalker

        Maybe that's your standard for buying them, but some people don't care if it's certified (or that there even is such a thing) as long as it works.

      • gonif

        At least Betamax was a clearly superior format. So much so that it continued to live on, albeit in limited fashion, until the death of the entire video tape recording technology.

      • Ghostwalker

        I would argue that that's the reason Apple has
        survived for so long, also.

      • Adrian Taralunga

        But as the author said and he is totally right the DAC would not be the quality that the current iphone has

  • Jerutix

    Yeah, I think your points are valid. My dad said something about reading an article about the waterproof argument. He didn't source it, but could there be truth to Apple not wanting to pay whoever they would have to pay for use of some proprietary design to waterproof a 3.5mm jack? Essentially, they opted to use their own system with lightning because they wouldn't have to pay a fee?

    Edit: Also, I don't really care one way or the other, as I am not an audiophile and use bluetooth headphones with my iPhone 6, which actually has an issue with the 3.5mm jack being too loose.

    • gonif

      It does? Mine's been fine. Should I be worried? If there's one thing I hate, it's the built-in "time bomb" of a factory defect in the hardware.

  • http://adamsimmersive.com Adams Immersive

    #1 reason: Apple wanted to move the display circuitry to the bottom and fit a bigger camera up top.

    Every other reason (more battery, new haptic engine, easier waterpoofing) is minor, and most benefits from the move will come long-term. Not now. For instance, more and better and cheaper (competition) third-party wireless audio, which is long overdue. And the space/engineering savings in all future models too, not just this one.

    That means they took the bitter pill of making the iPhone 7 WORSE and taking the flak for it. (Call it courage if you must—that's marketing for you.)

    Worse in one small way, solved by the free adapter and the bundled headphones and the many Bluetooth options.

    No need to pretend that having a headphone jack isn't better than an adapter... but it seems pretty tiny weighed against the 7's improvements.

    And the ultimate future is no more snagged wires. Having a wire from your head to your phone felt archaic years ago. I think Apple moved too soon on this change... but better that than the reverse!

  • Es Burroughs

    Use the included adapter, and drag out your ancient corded landline while you're at it.

    • gonif

      Next time you're in a hurricane or your area suffers some other disaster, you can come over and use my landline. For a modest fee. >:)

    • Edwin Ramirez

      Funny how Apple users accept carrying adapters for devices that insist in being thinner.

  • Joshua Woodward

    No long term gaming for phones that lose battery life by the second. You'll be switching between charger and headphone jack constantly. As for the AirBuds, no thanks, I'll pay for a $15.00 Bluetooth adapter to use my current gaming headset...

  • Milotorou

    I agree with all of this Carter.

    Its also worth mentionning the absolute garbage apple is trying to get you to buy : ear pods.

    5 hours battery life, like really ? I cant live a day at the office with that short of a lifespan, and they charge you 160$ for it, blasphemy.

    • Jason

      Trying to get you to buy? They're giving you a free adapter...use whatever the hell you want.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Tim Cook came to my house this morning and forced me to buy them.

      • sobriquet

        How are they?

      • Boobi

        Do they have to be white? What color shirt was Tim wearing?

      • Milotorou

        i never said they forced you, i said they incite you, those words have different meaning Eli 😊

    • bhayes444

      Yeah, never mind that those new headphones get 3 hours of a charge in 15 minutes. You could literally just stick them in their holder while you stuff your face at lunch and get through the rest of the day. If you don't like it then there are many other BT headphones out there that get better than 5 hours per charge in the $159 price range.

      • static66

        Or even the beats solo's they announced yesterday with a 40 hour playback time per charge.

        Lots of whiners is this world it seems.

      • Edwin Ramirez

        You consider buying Beats. Your opinion is now invalid.

      • Milotorou

        thats why i have my bose a2ew that last for 12 hours 🙂

      • Milotorou

        once i get out of home im not gonna carry a bunch of chargers along, i expect my equipment to make it through the day.

  • palenoue

    This controversy reminds me of the outrage generated when Apple dropped the floppy drive. People said Apple was doomed, that it was the most stupid decision a computer company could make, and Apple haters bragged about how superior their wintel machines were because they still used floppies. History repeats itself. In a few years androids will brag about how they were the first to drop the analog plug, tech-jerks will ridicule people who still use "vintage" headphones, and the complainers of today will forget they ever made such a commotion over an obvious evolution in audio performance.

    • fiberdonkey

      Except in that case they kept the CD drive, a universal media format. Like carter said, it would be a different thing if they went with USB-C, but going the proprietary route with lightning is mind bogglingly stupid.

      • palenoue

        Yet the same controversy and comments occurred when Apple dropped the CD drive. And Apple is including a converter jack, so it's not like anyone has to throw out all of their headphones overnight.

      • Gurney Halleck

        1) This is NOT an evolution of digital audio.

        2) The included free dongle only allows me to use the headphone jack or the charge port one at a time. This means that in order to use my phone audio on long drives (as I often do traveling for work), then I will either have to run only on battery while I want to listen and then charge in silence, or buy a $40 double lightning jack dongle and then connect the Lightning to 3.5mm jack (carry and use 2 extra components) in order to simply play music through my car stereo while charging my phone.

        This to me is not worth the transition benefits by a long shot and it easily would have been worth a slight increase in the size of the phone over elimination of such an established and still very useful standard. This appears to have been done more for Apple's ability to monetize the transition away from 3.5mm jacks and to its accompanying requisite additional Apple mfi certified hardware components than for the benefit of consumer audio experience. I will be holding on to my 6S until the 7S as per my usual upgrade path these days, but I can only hope these issues caused by the loss of the 3.5mm audio jack will be reasonably resolved by then.

      • bhayes444

        Granted it would be a lot better if they went with USB-C, but who really didn't see this coming? Audio over lightning has been around since the inception of lightning. Add that to the fact that Apple loves their proprietary standards and you end up with what we have today. It was very obvious USB wouldn't be involved once the rumors of the axing of the headphone jack came around.

      • http://about.me/wondroushippo Carter Dotson

        Oh yeah, this was an inevitability. Still sucks though.

      • gonif

        Sadly, geeks rarely vote with their wallets. Even worse for gaming geeks. Their consumer need outweighs their desire to hurt companies that seek to screw them over for more cash (i.e. "DLC").

      • NaeemTHM

        >going the proprietary route with lightning

        I don't think that's the actual plan though. Yes a pair of lightning headphones are in the box, but I really think Apple IS pushing for an open format...wireless.

        I was around when Apple dropped the floppy drive and let me tell you, the CD drive was not nearly as ubiquitous. Now Apple is dropping the headphone jack for wireless audio. Just like CD's, which were expensive and not nearly as useful as the current standard at the time; Apple is making this hard change now to hopefully make wireless audio the industry standard.

        I'm not saying I agree with this move, but it's clear to me that Apple really thinks we can't make wireless audio better unless we move on from the current headphone jack standard.

      • http://about.me/wondroushippo Carter Dotson

        Well, to be fair – Bluetooth is an open format, but Apple's adding proprietary layers to it now with the W1 chip in the AirPods and new Beats (I think?) – especially when NFC pairing has existed, and hasn't taken off in part because Apple hasn't supported it.

      • NaeemTHM

        Thanks for the response Carter!

        Didn't they said all W1 headphones would work just fine with any bluetooth compatible device? Maybe I heard that wrong?

      • http://buzzabit.com/aaron/ Aaron Sullivan

        Yeah, it's Bluetooth. Works with anything bluetooth. The case has the sync button. W1 makes it a much better experience on Apple devices.

      • DeviceUser

        it's literally impossible for wireless audio to be better than audio through a direct connection. professionals and those with expensive audio equipment will never go wireless because that's adding a layer of compression between source and sound that will always degrade the quality. you don't think musicians would have went wireless years ago? it sucks having to deal with cables you constantly trip over on stage and break but they're absolutely necessary for pure audio transmission

      • Der-Kleine

        There's also the fact taht CDs offer a substantial improvement over floppy disks by literally being able to store hundreds of times more data. The differences digital audio will make (as mentioned in this article) are not nearly as great, and not always positive either.

    • Skane

      Your point might be relevant if smartphones used to have floppy drives.

    • Sick of Labour

      Hardly the same thing. It's easy enough to plug an external floppy drive into a desktop PC, it's entirely different when you've got to carry extra shit around with your phone.

    • Érico Galindo

      False equivalency falacy.
      Or simply: You are an idiot.

    • Edwin Ramirez

      The floppy drive passed through a slow phase out that stretched over a decade and was dropped for other storage media that did not involve any compromises. CDs and USB memory sticks were more reliable, faster, durable, and has much more storage space. The only con they had were price.
      Dropping the audio jack means that all existing head phones no longer work with out carrying an extra adapter. It also means that now you either charger your phone or use your adapter. So this evolution in audio performance now brings a problem that didn´t exist. It would have been like having to reset your computer every time you wanted to connect a memory stick to your brand new, floppy-less, mac.

  • Jason

    "Removing the headphone jack isn't all bad, there are some benefits and
    if you don't mind the drawbacks of Bluetooth audio, it's okay, but
    people ought to be mad about this."

    For the love of god, use the damn lighting adapter. They didn't remove the headphone jack, there still is one...they just removed the archaic, analog 3.5mm one. Why people think this is forcing them to use Bluetooth is beyond me.

    • Der-Kleine

      Why people think the existance of a 3.5mm headphone jack forces them to use it is beyond me as well. Guess what, you can still use your wireless or lightning headphones on a phone that has an audio jack. The adapter itself isn't a perfect fix, and simply put it's a fix to a problem that didn't need to exist.

      • Jason

        But the "problem" does exist. You can whine about it, or simply use the included adapter. 90% of the people that buy one will the the included headphones and never think twice about it.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Yep, there's a reason the white iPod headphones became iconic- People just use what's in the box.

      • http://buzzabit.com/aaron/ Aaron Sullivan

        You are indirectly pointing out the actual problem that is being solved. The 3.5mm jack is a redundant port taking up internal space for reasons of legacy and ubiquity. There is the charge-while- listening thing that people complain about. That's the only valid point I can sympathize with that I've heard.

        What I got from this article that was worthwhile was some cutting down of uninformed statements about how audio works as arguments for going "digital" connector. None of it spoke to the headline for me.

        Perhaps expecting people to be rational about the whole issue and weigh how little it will likely effect their actual usage might have been the mistake Apple made.

      • Skane

        Exactly, the argument goes both ways.

    • DeviceUser

      my pockets are full enough and I've already had several Iphones with worn out lightning jacks and I don't want to quadruple the amount of stress I put on the ONE remaining connector by having a plug placed into it all the time. compared to the rugged cylindrical audio jack the lightning jack is a hole punched piece of paper

  • Jason

    Anyone that cares this much about audio isn't listening to their music on an iPhone.

    • http://about.me/wondroushippo Carter Dotson

      Well, some of us do leave our houses and listen to music on portable devices, such as the iPhone. And even if you're not an audiophile, plenty of people have spent money on even wired Beats, and now you're gonna have to use a dongle that you can and will misplace, or buy multiple just to ensure you have them wherever you need them.

      • Jason

        How many different headphones do you use on a regular basis? I have one good set of wired earbuds, and use the crappy apple ones as a back-up...now, I'll leave the adapter on the good ones all the time, and still use the crappy apple ones as a back-up. For 99% of users, this is going to be virtually unnoticeable.

      • Gurney Halleck

        So in your estimation only 1% of people will want to use their phone to listen to audio through their car stereo who would also like to be able to keep a charge on their phone while using battery draining applications like Apple Maps etc...? This change makes charging the phone while listening to car audio from the phone impossible without buying an additional $40 double lightning adapter and then connecting the included adapter to it. Or possibly having to buy a 3.5mm to lightning whenever that accessory may become available. Either way, this change shovels additional components and expense upon the customer without having provided any tangible benefit to the consumer in regards to design. I think you're just being reactionary and dismissive to people's legitimate complaints. This could have been handled in any number of ways that would carry less of an additional burden on the consumer, but they did not and the cost of this transition will be borne on the shoulders of Apples customers and no small amount of inconvenience for many many users. Hopefully they have remedied these significant inconveniences to what is supposed to be the penultimate convenience device by the time try release the 7S.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        I mean even base level cars now all have bluetooth. All these inconveniences will eventually have to happen.

      • Gurney Halleck

        I'm driving a maxed out 2004 model. Still a nice car, but predates these options. Would have to buy a new stereo or components to make this change. I concede that change will happen sooner or later, just feels like this is much too soon for what is still a useful and widely adopted international standard. The benefits for the consumer don't really seem to be there yet and in all honesty I have had a lot of trouble with Bluetooth headsets (I have owned 6 different pairs from several high end manufacturers and still have had trouble with battery performance and charge capacity degrading over not much time.) I guess I'll just have to get with the times when I buy the 7S. My car stereo will still be more than I need come that time so I will probably need to wire in an adapter for USB to lightning (Bluetooth does noticeably degrade sound quality for me on a good system.)

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Yep, I get it. It's definitely an annoyance for me too, being that I have wired headphones that I love. But I'll dongle it and get on with my life. As for cars, my old car was a 2002 and didn't even have an AUX jack, which was incredibly annoying as I almost exclusively listed to my iPod/iPhone while driving. I used one of those janky ass cassette tape converters. Anyway, it wasn't ideal but it worked and again I got to listen to my music and move on with life. If you're more concerned about audio quality in your car, then it's probably even less ideal, but I've heard you can buy bluetooth converters that will plug into the AUX port and allow you to connect to your device wirelessly. Might be worth the audio quality loss in order to not have to wire in something new into your stereo.

      • http://buzzabit.com/aaron/ Aaron Sullivan

        Bluetooth and/or usb is available in cheap car stereos aren't they? And like Jared said in every base model car. Even if you abandon iPhone for good I recommend installing something with bluetooth/USB support. Should be able to keep it under $100

      • Gurney Halleck

        That's just it. I have a very nice high-end stereo system that cost a few hundred dollars when I purchased it. As far as sound quality goes, it's baller, I don't want to have to replace a perfectly good stereo just to be able to use my phone with it. I would sooner buy the 2-lightning port adapter and use the included lightning to 3.5mm adapter as a solution to this, but it will still require me to buy extra hardware (with added potential for fault/loss) just to be able to listen to music in my car while I charge as I can do now without hassle. I suspect that these complaints were likely weighed by Apple in advance and they are of course going to stay the course on this, but it's definitely a bummer in my book. Hopefully there are some creative solutions between now and the 7S to smooth over my concerns, so I guess I'll shelf it for now. Just thought I'd add that the biggest complaint for me wasn't mentioned in the article, and hasn't seemingly been discussed in other articles regarding the loss of the 3.5mm in the 7. Most of my friends still listen to music in their cars this same way so I don't think the modern car argument goes well with many as in these economic times few people are buying new cars. Anyway, that's my 2 cents.

      • Gurney Halleck

        Also, great article Carter! Really informative reading.

      • http://buzzabit.com/aaron/ Aaron Sullivan

        Well, yeah, that's a pain. $40 will do it for you if you go the iPhone 7 route and as I posted earlier this is the one legitimate complaint that I see: the charge-and-listen problem.

        In the car, though, I feel like a little investment to make it better seems more likely and doable. I mean it's something people do all the time even with 3.5mm jacks in their phones. That's why I was curious about your situation and maybe how much the car thing matters. I have a long-ish commute to work but have bluetooth or usb connection options so it doesn't effect me, but if I didn't it would be a concern.

      • makoamagana

        Also I don't understand these car stereo comments. As far as I know most stereos come with a USB port. Even newer cars come standard with USB ports that connect direct to your stereo. This port charges and plays music at the same time. So these must be pretty old high end stereos that only have an aux port?

      • http://buzzabit.com/aaron/ Aaron Sullivan

        To be fair, people keep their cars for over ten years and it was pretty easy to get a high end stereo without usb or bluetooth 10 years ago.

      • makoamagana

        This exactly what I was thinking. Keep the adapter on your good headphones. Someone who has multiple pairs of 400-1000 dollar headphones should not be complaining about having to buy a 9 dollar adaptor. I mean really? Basically the only argument here is charging while listening. All other complaints are just whining to me. This is coming from someone who makes music for a living just FYI. Your expensive headphones really should not be played on an iPhone, they should be using a quality dedicated DAC. iPhones are good for casual listeners but anyone that's spending 1000 dollars on headphones and listening to them on an iPhone is ridiculous I'm sorry haha. Use BT headphones or just use the dang adaptor big deal. Seriously this issue is way to much drama.

  • fiberdonkey

    Fantastic article. Thank you very much for writing a well thought out, and detailed response to this issue.

    • http://about.me/wondroushippo Carter Dotson

      You're welcome, and I appreciate you reading it! Same to everyone else who made it through all 3000 words, even if you think I'm a dingus who needs to shut up and eat his damn lemons, this was a lot to take in because I had a lot to say.

      • Milotorou

        i actually might be one of the few guys that agree with you on almost all your articles lol

  • nini

    I guess I can't help but marvel at how much anger Apple generates over their decisions, most simply because it's Apple, the brand people love to despise like it ran over their pet and stole candy from a baby. People may remark that the Android platform offers them more hardware choice but it's still fairly limited between two device manufacturers if what I hear is true. Change occurs, tables get flipped for a while and we move on, find a new thing to nerdrage over.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      I think people just love taking pot shots at things they perceive to be on top. The infatuation with everything Apple does being the worst feels a lot like the celebrity gossip world which seems to primarily exist to prove that incredibly popular/important people really aren't that great because check out what Kim Kardashian looks like without makeup at Starbucks in these exclusive photos.

      • Milotorou

        I agree with you eli, and the above poster as well.

        as much as i can be a crybaby i think people overreact.

        Will i miss the audio jack ? Maybe sometimes.

        But wireless really is the future, apple
        is actually right. I say, give that thought a few years and come back to it, youll see how stupid our complaints were in the first place.

    • Jakeopp

      Wouldn't say it's limited to two manufacturers...you can get top-spec devices from sony/samsung/zte/xiaomi/HTC/Huawei/LG/Google/Motorola/Asus/etc. Though the specs (processor, RAM, screen resolution) in those devices are pretty similar so variety is limited in that way. Software is unique in all of them & there are some other hardware differences such as removable batteries, expandable storage, wireless charging, quick charging(most seem to have this now), etc

      Anyways, enough of my rambling

      • Tallgeese

        Specifics probably aren't important when one's painting their world with a very large brush, of course a small brush can be tedious...

    • Edwin Ramirez

      What you hear is untrue. Two device manufacturers? LOL.

  • OrangutanKungfu

    Bravo, Carter, bravo! I can't claim to be an audiophile, and wouldn't necessarily notice a drop-off in sound quality, but I use wired in-ear buds pretty much every day, and losing the headphone jack is an annoyance. It means I will either have to carry around the dongle along with my earbuds in my pocket all the time (not a huge hardship, but I have different pairs of earbuds for home and for outside the home, so I'll need to keep switching it from pocket to pocket), or I'll have to get Bluetooth earphones which will need recharging constantly.

    It's not the end of the world, it really isn't, but I'd rather they had just left the damn 3.5mm jack alone.

    • http://about.me/wondroushippo Carter Dotson

      Yeah, I admittedly get a bit too invested in a topic that's not the end of the world, but it's like when I was walking back from a train station earlier this year, using a USB audio dongle was annoying and I switched over to my iPhone headphone jack with my nice IEMs. And I've had Bluetooth headphones die on me while I've wanted to use them. We have so many little annoyances from digital devices, why do we need to be adding more?

    • http://buzzabit.com/aaron/ Aaron Sullivan

      Do the earbuds from iPhones not fit in your ears? I know they aren't great for some people. If they do fit, it's not an issue for you as the iPhones will come with lightning earphones and you can just keep the dongle for your second pair always attached.

      • OrangutanKungfu

        Your response is absolutely fair, but I am, unfortunately, some people. I wish I could just use the earphones that come in the box, but they give me infections within a week or so. The only ones that don't give me trouble are the in-ear buds that actually go in the ear canal, as opposed to sitting just outside. I'm aware this will affect only maybe 0.01% of people - I just happen to be one of them. Obviously, I can hardly blame Apple for that (curse you!).

      • Coachflaps

        My ears must be weird because I always have problems with the EarPods and whatever they were called before. Those type just never stay in for me. I have a couple set of earbuds, the in the canal kind, and a couple over the ear headphones that I use.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        i'm in the same boat. There's a very small number of in-ears that actually fit in comfortably and stay in. Apple's have never been one of them, which is a shame because they're relatively nice headphones and they're free!

  • torosama

    I'm actually confused at all the outrage. I talk on my headset all day , but there is a free adapter. Only concern I had was charging and talking at same time with headset but that's only occasionally. Most of my issues were currently resolved with the purchase of a google audio adapter. I dislike Bluetooth quality but this adapter solved all my issues in the house. Maybe I'll be more upset when some other scenario I haven't thought of comes to light.

    • http://buzzabit.com/aaron/ Aaron Sullivan

      I have seen on many occasions people "outraged" at situations they imagine could happen to some people somewhere. Even in these comments, actually. I've seen people rage about how Apple is just doing this to force people to buy expensive wireless headphones or an $30 adapter even though there is an adapter in every iPhone box and an actual wired set of headphones in the box as well. Oh, and they'll lose the adapter so they'll have to buy that $30 one -- but, yeah, it's $9. Nothing wrong with being empathetic but the scenarios get pretty funny when they aren't based in any sort of reality.

  • Earth Vs. Me

    Stereogum ran a great editorial on this subject that brought up some troubling points no one was addressing, like how digital connections have historically been abused to carry DRM software that analog couldn't carry: http://www.stereogum.com/1893065/no-control-thoughts-on-the-end-of-the-headphone-jack-and-the-future-of-digital-music/franchises/but-whos-buying/

    • http://about.me/wondroushippo Carter Dotson

      Yeah, there's a lot of people that have wanted to close off the analog hole for a long time now. I don't want to cold take myself and say DRM'd music (that you own, not that you're 'renting' via subscription services) is dead forever, but I think that it's mostly dead. Especially since making any kind of alternate audio format relies on widespread support from software and hardware makers that's really tough to get. But we'll see someday, I guess.

  • muttso1o

    Sadly the Apple community will give Apple the slip.
    Even If the 'innovation' is dubious. Only reason I can see why Apple removed the headphone jack is to make the IPhone 7 1 mm thinner.

  • rickinsav

    "Intellectually dishonest arguments" are something of a job requirement for tech writers these days...

    • Tallgeese

      not just the techs, sadly...

  • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

    It boils down to this: Apple cares more about the camera on the iPhone than the convenience of an audio input standard. They wanted to add an improved camera and move some internals around, and the audio jack gave them problems with that. Removing that jack fixed those problems. It's not about having improved audio quality through Lightning connector, it's about having two ports on the phone that can accomplish the same task. That empty hole just sat there with a (mostly) singular purpose, when there is already another port that is capable of delivering the same functionality. As someone with wired headphones that I love, I'm not super happy about having to dongle up, but I completely understand why Apple did this. Sort of surprised it didn't happen sooner, to be honest.

    • Jakeopp

      Or they could *drumroll* make the phone a bit thicker

      • Gurney Halleck

        This I would have easily accepted vs the removal of the port. I'm not arguing just for the sake of it, this particular change just happens to directly affect me and the way I use the phone on the regular. I know experiences will differ person to person, but for me it's definitely going to cost me to adapt.

      • http://buzzabit.com/aaron/ Aaron Sullivan

        What do you think you are magically fixing with that solution. That's a trade off among many and an important sales point affecting how desirable the phone is just like all the other features including the 3.5mm jack.

      • Jakeopp

        Who gives a darn about phone thickness? We're talking like fractions of millimeters likely. Knowing apple they probably didn't even consider this route, even though tons of consumers would love it as it would allow space for a larger battery.

      • Tallgeese

        Thicker!

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        They did consider it, if you go back and watch them talking about it during the keynote. I think most people would be on board with a slightly thicker phone, the problem is I don't think it would be *slightly* thicker. That headphone jack takes up quite a chunk of space. If they were to add it into this year's phone in addition to the larger camera module and be able to move the display circuitry like they needed to, I'm not sure where they would fit that jack in. The phone would have to be longer lengthwise which would be super awkward and give it at least a quarter to a half inch extra bezel at the bottom. They could make the phone wider, but same issue, there would be an awkwardly large bezel but more importantly I think they've really done their research in usability and a phone that's even wider than the current Plus models would probably be pretty unwieldy for most peoples' hands. Not to mention the regular size model getting wider would be an annoyance for many, too.

        If you take Apple at their word, their only options would be: Not improve the camera and display the way they wanted and keep the headphone jack, or ditch the jack when there's already a port on the phone that can deliver wired audio and instead use the extra space for a better camera, slightly bigger battery, and reconfigured innards. Given how highly they tout the iPhone as the "world's most popular camera" then it's easy to see why they did what they did.

      • http://buzzabit.com/aaron/ Aaron Sullivan

        There are many factors in changing thickness and I think you're right that people don't express the feeling of heft, and size in the hand in terms of "thickness" but a thicker phone does feel chunkier, clunkier and/or less manageable to people. The satisfying feeling of "oh, this is lighter" or just being able to stow it in a pocket more easily translates to sales and in a one-to-one comparison between phones at a store it is noticeable and a real factor just not one that consumers pinpoint as "thickness". It matters. People care about it.

        Why do you think you know what customers want from iPhones more than Apple who has actual data? As an aside, the battery life seems to be getting a significant jump in this phone with the same thickness as the last iPhone.

    • Jakeopp

      Heck, Samsung managed to run a freaking stylus 3/4 the way up my phone alongside having a headphone jack, and one of if not the best camera of last gens phones.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        I guess that's why if you care about these things you should just rip the band aid off and switch to Android as quick as possible, as you're only getting deeper into the Apple ecosystem with every app download and iCloud photo upload.

      • http://buzzabit.com/aaron/ Aaron Sullivan

        Commendable. Also, a trade off that manages to sell less and make less profit than iPhones. Which doesn't mean it's better for you, just more successful for their respective companies and probably one is making better trade-offs than the other. Not saying this is a better trade-off, just that your cherry-picking other trade-offs to demonstrate a what you propose is a better solution in a less successful product doesn't make a very strong point.

      • Jakeopp

        Who's talking sales? I don't even use the stylus, it just "takes up space." I'm merely using my phone as an example that you can make a great phone and

      • Jakeopp

        still have "wasted space" to boot, just barely thicker than the iPhone 6s models

      • Tallgeese

        Well, I'll agree with you! Also to the above, not everything that sells more is better. Teslas are difficult to sell because of price and many dealerships refuse to sell them because they last so long. Typically people buy middle ground or more successfully marketed items if given too many options are given anyways...

      • Tallgeese

        *- are

      • http://buzzabit.com/aaron/ Aaron Sullivan

        Perhaps it could have been a better phone in the eyes of consumers (potentially reflected by sales) if they had used the space the stylus slot took up for something more beneficial. That's my point, though I must have been really tired when I wrote that other post, I edited it a bit for clarity.

  • Jakeopp

    Great article Carter, definitely worth reading in its entirety

    • rickinsav

      I searched for a TL;DR and couldn't find one. So I scrolled all the way through to the end made a few shallow attempts at humorous comments.

      • http://about.me/wondroushippo Carter Dotson

        The TL;DR I guess would be: this sucks because Apple's killing a universal standard that has few issues, Lightning's still a proprietary format, wireless is still inferior quality, and all these things are small inconveniences but they add up.

        I will say this, and I haven't seen people besides me mention it, is the compatibility with future iOS versions. When someone's $300 Lightning headphones stop working in iOS 12 or something, I'll sip my tea and say "Toldja Lightning was gonna be a problem."

      • Gurney Halleck

        Agreed.

  • Jakeopp

    Sure, the future is in wireless. But apple included lightning earbuds, and an adapter to use your old wired earbuds. What they did not include were wireless earbuds. Around my school, nearly everyone using headphones are using wired ones, and a good percentage of those are the generic ones that come with the phones.

    Heck, if you buy a new macbook you won't even be able to use the same headphones that come with your iPhone. You'll need separate pairs for each or to use 3.5mm headphones and an adapter for your iPhone...

    • rickinsav

      Now that's a good point. Maybe Apple engineers thought ahead and put in a lightening headphone jack. But doubtful for several obvious reasons.

  • Wizard_Mike

    On one hand, the change wouldn't be that big for me because the only headphones I use are the earbuds that came with my 6plus. So as it concerns my usage habits with my phone, nothing really changes. On the other hand, I use those same earbuds for everything else, too (3DS, laptop, even PS4), so this change means I would be toting around either two sets of earbuds, or forgoing the Lightning earbuds and just using my current ones with the dongle. It would only be a minor annoyance, but an annoyance nonetheless. I'm not upgrading until next year, anyway, so it's not an issue for me yet. I wonder if there is any chance that they would reverse this change and put the jack back in.

    • nav1

      I think you bring an interesting perspective. If many or most iPhone users just use the included earbuds, then the whole point becomes moot, and I now that many people do. I personally dislike those earbuds and always end up giving them to someone, and would prefer to have the 3.5 jack, but I don't care enough about this issue. It is fun to watch the reaction though 🙂

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        I feel about the same. It's funny because the kind of people who read websites about this stuff and take time to comment are most definitely NOT Apple's largest demographic. Like you say, most people will just use what comes in the box and won't think twice about it.

  • http://www.google.com/+jordancable Jordan Cable

    The ONLY reason I'm not upgrading the the 7. I'm fine with corded headphones. I don't plan on going Bluetooth because the cord doesn't bother me at all. I'm perfectly content with my 6S Plus and being able to plug in my headphones and charge my phone without the need of an unnecessary dongle. Apple fucked up big time with this and the backlash is perfectly understandable.

    • FastShoes

      I was really excited to upgrade, until I saw the phone. Now I'm just thinking it won't work with my lifestyle. Yes, I have a car with Bluetooth and Bluetooth headphones, but I keep my phone charged at work and listen to wired headphones at the same time. It's a bold move, and I don't like it and will vote with my wallet. But I'm most curious to see how it will sell.

      • rickinsav

        Thank you. My 7 may deliver a day earlier now 😉
        Hope your battery doesn't wear out too soon being plugged up all the time.
        I'll miss my cheap wired headphones but the better camera battery screen speed and storage over my 6+ will be greatly appreciated.

      • Gurney Halleck

        Lithium polymer batteries actually prefer to be kept at a full charge and the integrated circuitry in the phone and the apple charge units actually prevents overcharging that damages the battery so where are you getting that idea from?

  • nav1

    Very good read, and actually learned something from it. Though I wouldn't call it a stupid move per se, maybe a bad or perhaps one-sided move, as it has more benefits for Apple than for users. Stupid to me are devices having touch "buttons", which have none of the benefits of physical ones, and none of the benefits of touch screens either.

  • Brendan Keough

    Carter's audiophile/headphone nerdiness exceeds my wildest dreams, bravo!

    topic at hand: I don't much care, I barely use my iPhone for music, spotify on speaker while I do the dishes is about it. I often forget that the games I play (including the ones I make) have audio at all. I suspect a large portion of the consumer base falls into my group and the cost:benefit ratio assisted the argument of the no-headphone jack camp at Apple (please do consider that no company is monolith, I'm sure there many arguments and meetings at Apple about this).

    When I do use headphones with my iPhone, they are usually connected with to the analog-in port on my FiiO E17. If in the future I can connect them to the digital-in port of that device that would be preferable (not sure about compatibility here).

    • http://about.me/wondroushippo Carter Dotson

      Yeah, I'm probably screaming about nothing, but I'm still emotional about this!

      (As far as running digital in to your E17, that should be possible in some way through the power of dongles)

  • Tony Bagadonuts

    Apple should be applauded for their gender neutral stance on audio connectivity. Only the most privelaged CIS white male would be so angry over losing the ability to jam his jack into a device's defensless audio port.

  • David Barajas

    Good article. Makes some good points. I already know that little adaptor is going to be lost by whole bunch of people. Me included. That's why I'm not surprised I was able to find articles letting me know how much a replacement was going to cost.
    This and other articles pointing out how the Lightning connector being proprietary could have negative effects are something I didn't think about (for headphones).

  • whitestatic

    Personally, I don't care about the reasons why Apple did it. I don't even care if this is the right way to do it. The long term solution here is to keep removing wires (next up: real and meaningful inductive charging) and am willing to support the direction (even if it's initially bumpy).

    • http://about.me/wondroushippo Carter Dotson

      While I'm not entirely pro-kill-all-wires, this will be a very different story once it's possible to get actual lossless audio via wireless, and we're not that far away. I'd still rather just plug something in, but that's the ultimate point here: the alternatives to the headphone jack to me all have drawbacks outweighing their positives.

      • Milotorou

        Exactly, listening to music for instance isnt bad on wireless.

        Gaming on the other hand. I hope you dont like rythym games.

      • whitestatic

        I can see the other side of the issue as well. But having designed and developed consumer electronics for the past 20 years, I still like this move--not because it's courageous or original but because it's a move in the right direction. It takes a big player to make a move like this. And honestly, the best way to get to lossless, wireless audio is to remove all the crutches. Again, THAT may not be Apple's goal but there's now an argument to be made for improving the wireless audio stack for the portion of the million+ users that are going to want it. And as others have mentioned, MOST people are happy with the quality of digital audio.

    • Gurney Halleck

      I would more happily accept the loss of the 3.5mm port if inductive charging was implemented as a standard. It was introduced many years ago as a technology so I'm bummed they didn't include this feature by now considering its usefulness.

  • Hero Killer Id

    TLDR

    Even so I Agree with ya.

  • dalglir

    Great article. Thanks.

  • Taxt2180

    The removal of the jack alone is enough for me to not upgrade to a 7 and either wait for them to put it back in a future model or look for an alternative phone.

    • Coachflaps

      Guess you better start shopping alternate phones.

  • bigrand1

    Well, good article, Carter, and you certainly are an audiophile, but for the average Joe and Jane, I believe all that doesn't matter much. People seemed to be okay with listening to compressed audio as opposed to CD's in general. And Apple IS copying others as my older Nexus 6 has the 2 stereo speakers that they are just now implementing with the new iPhone 7. But I like that feature, and it's about time Apple did that! The battery life is improved by 2 hours (big deal!) Camera improved, telephoto, 50% faster speed, new processors, whatever. If I had the iPhone 6 right now, I personally would not be inclined to purchase the new 7. Not big enough jumps to spur me on to make that move. In other words, it doesn't make me very excited at all. The headphone jack is kind of a big deal because as big as they are, Apple is setting a new standard that others are sure to follow, and just-like-that, I mean, it'll take a while, but wired earphones will be obsolete. Nobody likes wires, to be tethered to their devices, and lots of folks will follow like sheep and be down with that. Personally, I don't appreciate having another gizmo that I have to charge every day! And screw the dongle thing! We want to use our earphones with ALL our devices across the board! And the heck with these new ones with only 5 hours of usage before charging! That doesn't cut it at ALL! What a joke!!! I will feel sorry for people who have invested in high quality (and high priced) wired headsets, though. If they ARE gonna go at it this way, what gets me is that they are gonna go with a Lightning connector! Makes sense to me to step ahead and use the new C connector so we can charge ALL of our devices with one cord! Make it universal! Course they don't wanna do that, but that's what we WANT!!!! I suppose just by doing that, I'd feel a bit better about the whole deal myself.

  • rewind

    Agreed. And they didn't do this to improve the phone. They did it to take in money from all of the new headphones and adapters they sell, and also from the licensing fees they collect from third parties making headphones. I guess it takes courage to make a decision that profits by hurting the customer.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      But it does improve the phone. It has a bigger camera lens and a bigger battery due to the extra space. And it comes with an adapter so I'll be using my wired headphones just like I normally do. I've seen other people say this whole thing is about Apple fleecing companies for the MFi program, but I promise you, that's not how they make their money. I guarantee whatever money they do make from that program is a tiny drop in the bucket. They make money on hardware. And as we've seen over the past couple of years, wireless headphones are becoming more and more popular, and I don't doubt that someday wired headphones in general will be a thing of the past. Their goal isn't to make a more expensive wired option, it's to work towards the wireless future. Thinking anything other than that is just overly cynical sour grapes.

      • Gurney Halleck

        Couldn't the extra space be achieved by simply forgoing making the device smaller at the same time? I wonder. I mean the difference in side to accommodate both would be quite negligible if I understand correctly.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Well, it's not exactly negligible, but also there was the issue of the jack causing interference with the other components close to it in the phone. With the new larger camera module, they had to move the display circuitry to the bottom, and the jack messed with that. Also, they actually didn't make the phone smaller this year, it has the exact dimensions as last year's phones except for some very slight variances in weight. So if they made the phone bigger, even just slightly bigger, it would feel very different from the last two year's of phones that people are used to. Not that feeling different is necessarily bad, but they've got their engineering and production down to a science, and altering the device size even in just a small way might completely throw that out of whack. Also see my response to Jakopp above, tl;dr even if they chose to make the device thicker/bigger, I'm not sure which direction they could expand without it being an awkward disaster.

  • arghy

    I guess Job's brain flew out of his head after he uttered much the same words:

    http://youtu.be/65_PmYipnpk

    Someone had to post it. ^^

    • http://about.me/wondroushippo Carter Dotson

      Look, all I'm saying is that if Phil Schiller starts falling ill, I'd be worried.

  • Procrastin8

    Wow you wanna talk about intellectual dishonesty? "Sherlocking" is Apple "copying" an app's idea, not it's fundamental blueprint. Ie, they didn't steal the code, just what the app does. So linking "Sherlocking" with companies being skittish to submit is just dumb.

    Next, you teardown the idea that digital is better for audiophiles, going into some of the arguments about how people listen to music on their phones in noisy conditions, portable device, etc. Except 2 paragraphs later, you're saying BT headphones aren't good enough sound quality! What's more, you then later make the argument you need to constantly be tethered to the wall charging while listening to headphones on your PORTABLE PHONE. I hear this one all the time and it's even stupider.

    The fact is, wireless is where everyone is going. Apple dropped ethernet, a standard, even when wireless wasn't that great because it was going to be. They dropped optical drives because the future of software distribution wasn't physical media. They dropped tons of usb ports in the new macbook because again, for _most_ consumers, they don't need them. They connect wirelessly to their printer, to the internet, to their phones that contain their pictures (because they don't have standalone cameras either.) So this is simply Apple saying, "wireless is king for audio in 2 years."

    Deal with it.

    • Tallgeese

      I wish you people had the data and that I received money for all the times people seem to just know what "most people do." People in charge do things and those farther down the pipeline acclimate to the changing situation, it's not always a choice on the consumer's end. Products are phased out forcing people to switch, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for bad ones. At least that's how I see it, I won't purport that as fact because I currently don't have the same access to Cerebro some of you seem to. Also Carter's article seems like a pretty good devil's advocate to me. And for those of you unaware of precisely what "devil's advocate" means, it's not a pejorative.

  • http://backloggery.com/TJF588 TJF588

    Part of why I was quite fine to drop on a maxed out 6s was this rumor-turned-truth. I still have the GBA SP dongle, and like bullocks I've got time for that with my phone.

  • Gurney Halleck

    Out trolling much?...

    • rp2012

      Funny. In this case the tech blog echo-chamber are the trolls.
      And funny how people love to call people trolls when they disagree on something they cannot defend. Especially when NOTHING remotely trolling has been said.

      • http://about.me/wondroushippo Carter Dotson

        Thank you for commenting on this article multiple times and for the additional pageviews your return visits have brought the site. Every little bit helps us out.

      • rp2012

        You're welcome!
        If you're into click bait for hits at least someone should call it out. And you yourself calling it is the best any click-baiter admission ever.

        Good luck with your click baiting!!

      • http://about.me/wondroushippo Carter Dotson

        Our plan to propel the site to greatness through 3000 word long audiophile rants – much like other clickbait factories, as you well know – has been thwarted by you. Good job.

      • rp2012

        I had no doubt your plan was beyond stupid. No need to explain further.
        Good luck dude .

  • Jakeopp

    Actually people do care, go on reddit, go on any big apple blog/forum (or any tech blog/forum for that matter). There are tons of people who are very vocal on this change.

    • rp2012

      No one cares . Or rather real consumers. You will all look like fools in the days to come.
      We'll see. Sales will prove things out. The consumer will speak and make you all look like the ridiculous trolls you are.

      • Jakeopp

        What are you so salty about lol. No one expects it to impact sales. Apple is at the head of this market and will stay there, they are forcing this transition and within a few years I expect most/all big manufacturers will follow suit. The average consumer just buys an iPhone because it's "mainstream" it's what everyone else has. It's what they've been using for years, they're comfortable with it, it's easy to use, and they've invested into the ecosystem. Not to mention they're the best performing phones in the market by a good margin. However, this move sucks for a vocal minority and will suck throughout this transition period.

      • rp2012

        Salty or realistic lol. No one gives a shit but trolls on sites like this. The tech blog echo-chamber is upset no one listens to their foolish rants. That's basically the just of the entire 3.5 jack story

      • Jakeopp

        Also, many/most "average consumers" use whatever headphones that come with the phone. They won't be bothered by having to use the adapter.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      I'm not sure it's a statistically significant number. Even here on TouchArcade where you'd think we have tons of comments so they must be representative of the majority of our readers, only 0.06% of the people who read TouchArcade leave a comment. Similarly, while a Reddit rage thread over headphones might have 5,000 upvotes, Apple has sold over a billion phones

  • moon_frogger

    Yeah I thought it was a dumb move until I saw they include a converter in the box...which while not negating all criticism in this article and online does make most of it completely irrelevant. There is a dongle in the box people. If you absolutely can't go an with both your charged and your headphones plugged in at the same time then yeah, I guess your life is ruined...otherwise I don't see what the outrage is over

    • Daft Punk

      Wow really did you even read the article? It's about Apple being a tyrant. It's not just about "oh I can't charge my phone and listen to music". It runs much deeper than that and it's sad some people can't seem to see it when it's right in front of their faces my fucking God.

  • PlaystationPaul

    Apple are hardly a bastion for good audio quality. They discontinue devices that facilitate storing good quality lossless audio, like the classic 160 GB iPod, they provide poor encoders in their software (Xing for mp3 if I remember correctly, why not LAME?) and no audiophile worth their salt buys from ITunes given the choice. Seems like a way to sell more overpriced proprietary peripherals to me, true that 3.5 mm ain't great but it's fine for on the go. At home you would have a decent sound card set up anyway if you want good audio.

  • Sick of Labour

    I'm not letting Apple get away with it. I was due to upgrade my 6 Plus this year and I'm not going to do it. I'll not be buying a new iPhone until they bring back the headphone jack.

    I've got too many other devices I regularly use (3DS, laptops, iPad, Wii U, etc) to want to carry two different sets of headphones around. I also do not want to have to carry dongles or be unable to charge my phone when my headphones are plugged in. Apple really do need to stop being so arrogant as to assume whatever decision they make must be right.

    I hate to be one of those people invoking Steve Jobs, but would he really have wanted a device you can't charge while listening to music?

    • Coachflaps

      I guess you won't be buying an iPhone again if you're going to wait until they bring the jack back.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      I can 1000% guarantee you the headphone jack is not coming back. So you can switch, but I'd guess other device manufacturers will follow suit eventually, so it might be moot. As for Steve Jobs, well, just watch the video linked above. His ethos still runs strong through the company.

  • DeviceUser

    Well said. Just wanted to add that having two dedicated ports also splits the amount of physical stress in half. I don't feel comfortable having to use the ONE port my phone has for everything. You know it's going to break.

  • YARRRRR

    Time to retrofit my 70's Neve with a lightning port! Oh wait I can just buy an android as my next phone.

  • Coachflaps

    Get over it or don't buy the phone.

  • RoboWarrior

    Wow have to say this is one of the best commentaries on the removal of the headphone jack. Very well done write up.

  • Érico Galindo

    >THE FUTURE IS WIRELESS
    >no wireless charging
    >150 USD awful dr beats bluetooth phones sold separetely

    HAHAHAHHAHA

  • Symen Jager

    A lot of words over a simple headphone jack... The end is nigh! Terrible first world problem...

  • Adrian Taralunga

    I know a little bit of electronics and the author is totally right. Thanks for the article. I hope enough people would realise the downsides and just don't buy it to see if they will put the headphone jack back.

  • Ricardo Nunes

    Here, let me just connect my 4000$ headphones to my mobile phone and listen to some mp3s.... This issue is stupid.. It's a non-issue. No one is going to listen to great audio quality audio on a mobile phone.

  • Joey Keilholz

    This frustrates me so much because I can't support Apple when they're so blatantly anti-consumer and I like their phones otherwise.

  • Manfred Higgs

    Great article, thanks.

  • repapermunky

    Right on, CD.

  • Paul

    Apple , courageously degrading audio since 2001, decides to make it so impossible for someone to now charge and use headphones at the same time, let alone its got to be some proprietary thing , yay a dongle. No wait I can I can if I get a Y cable dongle!!! what the hell is that, is this some abused spouse situation?I will keep returning to my captor ? Every night and everytime I sleep or nap, I do the charge and phones same time. Now I have to add more tentacles to this advanced piece of tech? F that and F them and these are the nice words I am using. I have an iphone 7 plus and I am going to return it . I can handle a lot of changes , I am in the music biz, have to learn new software all the time, but making a move like this is not courageous , its not visionary, not "advanced" ...this is a retardation. I mean that in the truest use of the word its literally a retarding. Make the frikken DAC better and that would be courageous. lol