There’s been a lot of hullabaloo about Apple’s iPhone 7 going back and forth on one feature: the headphone jack. Early reports suggested it wouldn’t have the input, with Apple favoring a Lightning port and Bluetooth instead of the 3.5mm jack. Then a report suggested that Apple would include one after all. Then again, yesterday, The Wall Street Journal flipped the tables and said, no, Apple won’t include a headphone jack on the iPhone 7.
My question: does anyone really care?
I see both sides of why one might care and why one might not. In fact, my fellow editor Joey Davidson and I got in a debate about it recently. I argued that, look, nobody really cares. We’ll get Bluetooth headphones, use a cheapo-adapter in the box (if Apple dares to actually include one) or move on to Lightning headphones. In my opinion, Bluetooth headphones are just fine for what I need, even though, yes, that would mean I’d need to retire a set of Bose I hold dear (or, again, buy an adapter.) Joey saw things differently, arguing that Apple is essentially forcing its customers into inferior technology, noting that the audio through a 3.5mm headphone jack is far superior to that over Bluetooth or Lightning.
To debate that ever so slightly, an executive at another smartphone company who I spoke with recently suggested that it’s very possible to get the same audio quality through USB-C or another means, so ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack shouldn’t be much of a concern. Still, I know that people will care about more than just audio quality. Many aren’t going to be as ready to retire old headphones as I am, and other folks might rightly side with Joey: is Apple really forcing us to use inferior technology all in the name of creating a slimmer phone and forcing folks to buy proprietary Lightning accessories instead?
The answer to that question really depends on how you view Apple. Are you in the camp that thinks it’s blood-sucking every nickel and dime possible out of its customers in the name of huge profits? Or do you believe that Apple is really trying to push the barriers, ditching ports that seem aged as a means to adopt new technology? I see the company as a bit of both. It’s legendary in its ability to create products that customers scoop up no matter the price, resulting in large profits that please investors. But I also think it’s legendary in pushing boundaries, too, though sometimes a bit early, as is the case with the solo USB-C port on the MacBook. It’s probably trying to do a bit of both here.
I think the iPhone 7 faces a much larger challenge than the omission of the 3.5mm headphone jack, however. If early reports that Apple is going to launch a minimal upgrade for the iPhone 7, holding a bigger one for the iPhone 8 or whatever follows it, then customers might not upgrade simply because they won’t see a reason to – and the missing headphone jack could just be one additional reason to hold them back.