Courage, space, and vision: why Apple removed the headphone jack in iPhone 7

By , Sep 7, 2016

iPhone 7 lighrtning connector

On Wednesday, Apple confirmed that the rumors are true: there is no headphone jack in the iPhone 7. Apple is including a new pair of EarPods in the box with the handset, as well as an adapter for connecting the headphones to the legacy 3.5mm port, and it also announced new wireless earbuds called AirPods.

Apple SVP Phil Schiller explains the move: “The reason to move on: courage. The courage to move on and do something new that betters all of us.” Schiller says removing headphone jack will free up space, which is growing ever-limited with new components, and Apple’s ultimate vision for mobile audio is “wireless.”

iPhone 7 adaptor in box

“Up till now no one has taken on the challenge of fixing the thigns that are difficult to do on those wireless experiences and make them so we all want to do them. Our team at Apple has worked so hard to create something new that delivers on the opportunity to create the wireless experience.”

So there you have it. For all of you folks out there wondering how Apple would justify removing the headphone jack from the iPhone 7: they say it’s because the port was a poor use of space and ultimately they see all headphones becoming wireless. Coincidentally, they also announced multiple new pairs of Bluetooth headphones today.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the move, sound off below!

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  • Sailor_V90

    As much as I hate to admit it, they do have a point.

    • Joe Hammerdink

      No, they don’t.

      • You mean, besides more internal space, upgraded capabilities, more feature support, and potentially better audio? This is actually super cool as it allows the headphones to tap into the phone for additional processing power and resources. For instance headphones can now utilize the phone’s battery, processor and microphones to provide noise cancelation features.

        Offloading those tasks to the phone also allows us to buy much more feature rich headphones as a much cheaper price point as well. IDK, seems like some good points to me!

        Did you have a well reasoned case for why all of their points are invalid?

      • sun

        I think these are all valid points but mmmmmmaaaaaaaannnnn I have a lot of nice headphones. I just want to plug and go.

      • I remember when the original iPhone came out and it needed to have an adapter to use it with almost any non Apple headphones. They released an adapter for it that I just left attached to the pair I used all the time.

        But I hear ya. If you frequently switch between headsets that’s going to be a pain. And buying an adapter for every headset will probably not be a reasonable option 🙁

      • Huh?

        Yes they do, just ask ANY FANBOY and they will tell you! lol

      • Leslie Bee

        “War is peace.
        Freedom is slavery.
        Ignorance is strength.”
        ― George Orwell, 1984

        “Less is more.”
        ― iPhone 7

  • Bugs Bunnay

    Time for a celebration. I’m getting a 40 tonight!

  • Volerikan

    The Airpods seem like the perfect answer to killing the headphone jack. Just wish they were a little cheaper, ~$100

    • Rowan09

      The Samsung Gear IonX cost $199 so the Airpods to me is at good price.

      • felixtaf

        But Sammy products will lose the price after 3 months, usually. Apple wont until a year!

      • Rowan09

        Exactly and that’s why I believe it’s at a good price point as well.

    • Joe Hammerdink

      Are you insane? You are applauding this decision? Moron. Truly stupid. I will decide what I want to listen through, not a corporation and a horrible one at that.

      • Hmmm… So Apple upgrades to a far more feature rich method and provides free adapters with all phones to give people choices to use what they want and you are insisting it’s moronic to have a choice and would rather use the one and only port that corporations decided decades ago to give you? I feel like it’s obvious, but right now you actually have no choice so why the anger?

        Personally I like the options 🙂 Now I can use traditional, lightning and wireless.


      • Hanson Eigilson

        You already had the option to use traditional, lightning and wireless, since before 5s you clueless bozo.
        And the “better audio” is absolutely NOT going to come from bluetooth, it may possibly come from an external amplifier doing a better job than the internal one but that’s a cumbersome, clumsy solution for at best marginal improvements.

      • Fortunately audio doesn’t change nor does it get better every year. It’s our technologies for recording, encoding, storing, transmitting and recreating it that are getting better every year. While I don’t know how long it will take, eventually the day WILL come when bluetooth audio will be at a point where audio is transmitted as well as it is today on wire.

        We already can send lossless audio over bluetooth through encoding methods (like aptX and LDAC) and bluetooth continues to get faster and more reliable with each update. Also new specs that allow streaming music without re-encoding could push this eve further in the very near future.

        Personally I am rather excited about the future of Bluetooth. It IS getting better and eventually it will likely be the method that everyone uses.

        I think today we are at a good point for making the switch to wireless. Apple believes it’s the future and the losses today while present are minimal. For those that still need or prefer wired or the traditional method Apple is still supporting those as well. It’s kind of exciting to watch technology improve isn’t it?

      • Hanson Eigilson

        in terms of bandwith wired is lightyears ahead of bluetooth, in terms of powerconsumption wired is infinitely ahead, in terms “room” for decoder, battery etc etc etc etc wired is massively ahead since all components are housed in the phone practically for free, the bluetooth lossless is far from lossless, there is latency, bulk and scores of additional problems with them.

        it is annoying to see a company that i like make such a push for an immature technology, it is absolutely disheartening to see happy bozos cheer them on for it, and it is starting to be downright scary that i depend on a company such as apple for work.

      • Yeah, wired is always going to be more advanced and reliable than wireless just due to the nature of it.

        While I’m certainly no audio expert and could happily take the mantle of bozo in this area, what I do know is that bluetooth offers transfer speeds of a little over 3MB/s. While that’s horrifically slow compared to WiFi and practically nonexistent compared to the wired I think it’s important to ask what we need it to do.

        Turns out that an average song compression on iTunes yields a file that is roughly 2MB per minute of audio. Since the average song on iTunes is about 180 seconds long that means that the amount of data being streamed for the average user is around 6MB per song or 1MB/30s.

        Granted this is an oversimplification as there has to be a buffer for smooth playback and there is other network overhead in packet data and what not. But 0.03MB/s for what most people would consider quality audio should be achievable. Granted you’re not going to be streaming lossless audio with 0 problems today and many headset manufacturers skimp big time on the decoders in their headsets resulting in a poor audio experience. But the point is, we have the tech to stream standard audio over bluetooth and most audio issues seem to come from cheap DACs which is more a reflection of business decisions than of bluetooth’s inability to stream 3/10ths a MB every second.

        Oh and for the record I never said I’m cheering them on for this. Personally I’m waiting to see what Apple does in the future first. Trying to innovate in wireless audio is a start and providing a free adapter is a start but I’ll be keeping an eye on Apple’s (and more importantly 3rd party) support for this moving forward before diving in and pre-ordering everything I can.

        I think it’s the future, but whether it’s too early to embrace it or not only time will tell. That’s my only point. Well… that and bluetooth isn’t quite as bad as some make it out to be 😉

        Sincerely, your neighborhood bozo.

      • Volerikan

        You sound like you have a few problems.

        I constantly switch my headphones from my iPhone, iPad and Mac, these new wireless AirPods seem like they’re the perfect answer for me.

        If you don’t like it, don’t buy one, vote with your wallet; you don’t need to act like a five year old calling people morons for having an opinion.

      • You had me at “switching” I do the same as well. But the Airpods just doesn’t look appealing.
        Apple is doing all they can to keep you.
        Now the headphones transiton to whatever apple device you are using. Just like icloud. the deeper you go, the harder it is to leave.

      • Valinor

        Perfect answer? Anyone using the normal apple earpods know they fall out very easily. But at least you have a wire so they dont hit the ground.
        I give you a month, before you’re gonna lose one of them.

      • Dave Kurt

        My thoughts exactly but I came across a video demonstrating how well they stay in… This girl jump, shook and repeated, they didn’t come loose at all.

        This was just one person however but does bring a level of encouragement.

      • Natsu

        So know you have to go through the “trouble” of switching and charging. Congrats.

      • yourmomsbox


      • Leslie Bee

        Joe, you are hereby banned for life from the Apple FanBoy Club.

    • Leslie Bee

      Apple has never done “cheap”, so if you want to look like you’re wearing goofy plastic earrings, you’ll have to pay the price.

  • felixtaf

    I dont use headphones while charging. Since I dont have to pay 39$ for an adapter. Am happy!

    • Joe Hammerdink

      You don’t use headphones while charging…give me a break.

      • Considering that the headphone jack and the charging port are on the bottom of the phone, anyone who uses a dock can’t do both already.

        Although I don’t own a dock, maybe I’m weird but the only time I ever charge my phone is when I go to sleep and I hate wearing headphones to bed. So yeah, I honestly can’t think of a single time I ever charge and listen to audio either. Or any reason I’d need to for that matter.

      • Nolan I.

        I, actually, used my headphones while charging, just last night.

      • Valinor

        Anyone listening to music and using their phone during the day knows you wont reach the end of the day without charging.
        And most of these people use a powerbank so they can continue listening while charging.

      • Oh you know what? I just realized that I typically turn the cell antenna off on my phone since I have WiFi calling and rarely need the GPS so my battery usage probably isn’t a good comparison. XD

        Thanks for the answer though!

      • felixtaf

        Yes, I dont. I do use mybluetooth speaker often than my headphones. But that’s me and am talking about myself.

  • Huh?

    Should read “The reason to move on…..MONEY!”

    Because we’re too fuckin stupid to know how to be innovative anymore we have to do something to keep taking your money! SMH

    • Fanboy 

      Keep taking our money by providing a FREE adapter included with all new iPhone’s that make all existing standard wired headphones work? Yeah that’s them taking our money!

    • Did you miss the part where every single user gets a free adapter? Turns out they won’t be making much money with this. Also, better audio quality and support for additional communication features seems like it’s at least an attempt to innovate. But I’m not really an expert in this area so that’s just my personal opinion.

      • Huh?

        No, I fell asleep at “On Wednesday….” =)

      • Hahaha, well I can’t judge you. I didn’t read the article either so I don’t know if it was stated there or not (I heard it was free in Apple’s presentation through). And considering how Apple typically charges us an arm an a leg for adapters I can see where that would be the obvious conclusion.


      • Y2J

        Don’t bother. This kid is a loser 12 year old troll that’s been complaining on every article.

      • George

        That adapter costs them 2 cents.

      • Sure, but there wasn’t anything that would have prevented them from charging us money for them. In fact (I could be wrong) I think the original iPhone required you to purchase an adapter to use it with your headphones.

        Glad they didn’t do that this time around. Nice to see a company decide to give us something (however cheap it is to produce) that they easily could have raked in lots of money for.

      • George

        Motorola did the same thing with the adapter and they don’t even have money.

      • Valinor

        He’s probably talking about an adapter with 2 ports so you can charge while listening to music. Like the adapter on the new macbook, so you can use usb and charge at the same time.

  • Kevin Chen

    The trend towards wireless audio was obvious, certainly well BEFORE Apple acquired Beats (now simply harvesting the fruits/seeds they planted: no jack/port, sell more Beats). Removing headphone jack from iPhone is akin to removing CD/DVD/Optical drives from MacBook Air’s and newer MacBook Pro’s.

    I can’t remember which carmaker was the 1st to make Powered Windows many of u remember having to “roll down the window?” Or having to stick a key in ur door to open it? (keyless entry/remote fob is an upgrade option! 🙂

    • You act as if removing the dvd drive from the macs are universally accepted. Majority of computers out still have those drives. It will prolly never be standard.

    • Blip dude

      #1 – I still have to stick a key into the door in my car to open and still has a tape player (that I use an adapter for my iPhone), because guess what?? Everything works just fine and spending $$$ just to grab a Bluetooth or Carplay radio isn’t necessary. — This alone is a deal breaker for me to upgrade the phone for a few years, as the cassette adapter requires 3.5mm jack.

      #2 – I have a friend who does both of the above. So yes, I still roll down the window because his 98 accord is still running perfectly fine even at shy of just 2 decades. He however, does use a Bluetooth ready Radio.

      People still use DVD drives believe it or not. I even had to sadly purchase one because unfortunately a few classes I took were still using DVD-ROM discs.

    • Melissa

      LOL.. I agree. It’s just a big plot to sell more beats. I really haven’t been impressed since iOS 7 or was it 8?? I’ll never switch but I just don’t see anything special since the 5s with the touch to unlock.. I still have my 5s & was waiting for the 7.. But ehhhhhh.. They’re so BIG. I really don’t want to carry a tv around with me. That’s just me though

  • They’re ugly as shit tho

  • Y2J

    My biggest concern/issue is that there have been several times where I’ve been charging my phone and using earbuds, what now. What if after spending $750+ I don’t want to spend another $150 for wireless earbuds?

    • Kevin Chen

      Prediction: we will see lightning splitters available on eBay in time for Christmas (one end in iPhone, other end splits into power and audio ports). Official Apple MFI ones available months after

      • Y2J

        I had thought about that. It’s the most likely route. Still inconvenient but if removing the headphone jack really frees up that much space and makes it an overall better phone, I’m on board.

  • George

    Maybe next gen they will remove the camera as well so they can make the phone even thinner.

  • Alberto Espinal

    Just check how everyone follows after this IPhone, Samsung, etc

  • Darrick

    Sometimes, I think new technology creates solutions to problems that didn’t exist

  • OgWestside

    How can you listen to headphones and charge your phone at the same time??? To me that would be horrible not being able to listen to music and charge my phone at the same time!

  • Mike P

    I love my wired apple headphones. They work better than all Bluetooth headsets I’ve ever used. The microphones on them just pick up more and precise audio.

  • Mark S

    Wireless up to the point where you charge it.

  • The King

    I’m super confused. So Apple removed the 3.5 jack and is giving you an adaptor to use it in the lighting port, but they are not giving you wireless headphones? You have to buy them?

    • Blip dude


      • The King

        Wow. That’s smart to make more money off attachments during sales with the iPhone. I’m going to keep my S7 Edge and wait to see what the iPhone 7S can do. I’m not impressed with this new iPhone at all.

  • Perry_C

    I am currently and have been an iPhone user since the iPhone 3G but I will not buy an iPhone 7. Why? Because removing the headphone jack is yet another user-unfriendly move by Apple: this only makes for a less capable device.

    – “But digital audio is superior to 100-year-old analog technology.” This is simply untrue. To make sound, ANALOG electrical signals create vibrations in headphones or speakers; basically, ALL headphones are analog at some point. Bluetooth headphones transmit the audio information digitally to the headphones where it is converted to analog signals; for wired headphones, the audio is converted from digital to analog within the phone. The quality depends on how good the digital to analog converter is, not on wired vs. wireless.
    – “But Apple is providing upgraded capabilities and better audio.” Even if you consider Lightning and Bluetooth to be superior, both of these technologies have been around for years and work with current Apple devices so removing the headphone jack is not required to have access to these features.
    – “Apple is providing a dongle.” Dongles are a pain. Dongles get lost easily. Dongles cost money. Not having a dongle is definitely way more user-friendly than having one.
    – “You have to take away the headphone jack to make the phone water resistant.” The Galaxy S7 (among others) has a superior water resistance rating (IP68 vs. IP67) while maintaining the 3.5mm headphone jack.

    Removing the headphone jack is problematic in the following ways:
    – I want to use my expensive headphones that I already own: inconvenient dongle needed for use with iPhone 7.
    – I want to connect an iPhone 7 to the AUX cable in my car: inconvenient dongle needed.
    – I want to connect an iPhone 7 to the AUX cable on my home stereo: inconvenient dongle needed.
    (Some might argue that I should upgrade my car and home stereo but this is not a user-friendly argument.)
    – Lightning headphones for iPhone 7 can ONLY be used on that phone – they won’t even work on a Mac computer!
    – In the “it just works” department, wired headphones come out way ahead: you just plug them in to any device and they work; no charging, no pairing, etc.

    The ONLY legitimate reason for removing the headphone jack is to free up space inside of the device. That space appears to be now occupied by a stereo speaker. Is gaining a speaker worth losing a headphone jack? Not in my opinion; stereo speakers make the tinny sound of the iPhone slightly better but can’t compete with being able to easily connect to high-fidelity headphones, car stereos, or home stereo equipment. Besides, I bet the clever folks at Apple could have squeezed both the headphone jack AND the stereo speaker in there if they really wanted to.

    In summary, there does not need to be a “switch” to wireless – we already have wireless today and this “courageous” change doesn’t offer anything new. Removing the headphone jack just makes the phone less useful.

  • They do have a point in terms of tech and the courage to innovate, but the nasty thing about wireless tech is that it spends a lot of extra energy. Is the phone battery/OS optimized for this or will people have to use these cool headphones in short bursts and then switch to the old ones (with the adapter) when battery starts to go low?

  • Sorry in advance about how long this is, but in fairness you did write a LOT of points and I wanted to try to do justice to as many of them as possible. That said… here we go.

    You are correct, lightning based headphones have been possible since iPhone 5 if I remember correctly. But Apple didn’t remove the headphone jack to get us to use lightning headphones. They did it to move towards a future of all wireless. The lightning headphones are just a temporary stop gap measure.

    In terms of quality, wireless is actually right up there with wired quality. While bluetooth certainly isn’t the fastest wireless technology out there, it’s actually plenty fast for high quality music. Think of it this way: Most iTunes songs average 2MB/1min of audio which means that to steam quality music requires a minimum connection of 0.03MB/s about 100x slower in fact than bluetooth is currently capable of delivering. The issues in quality arise in the DAC and amplifier used in the wireless headphones among other things. Turns out that most wireless headphones that have audio quality issues skimped on the quality of components and it’s not wireless that’s to be blamed, its the cheap manufacturing.

    Technically NO ONE offers wireless charging. I assume that you’re talking about contactless charging (like what Samsung offers for their phones)? In which case, not only is “wireless”/contactless charging used in the headphones but it also supports rapid charging. 15 minutes will give you another 3 hours of battery. If you absolutely can’t live without audio for 15 min, perhaps you could charge one for 15min and then the other? They do work independently of each other.

    While the adapter is clunky, remember that Apple is providing it for free and their goal is that eventually you’ll never need it. As far as the split adapter, that’s not going to be a super common need either. In the sense that you’ll never need it while walking around and the 3 options seem to be car/desk/bed. In which case, get a dock for the desk, and a splinter for your bed and leave them there. Then it’s not clunky at all.

    $150 is actually a very reasonable price for what your get, but saying that it’s exactly the same as wired isn’t really the point. Why bother to ever use WiFi when there is Ethernet? The point is that it’s convenient. Wireless is more expensive than Ethernet, isn’t as fast and requires you to buy a wireless router (adapter of sorts) for you to take advantage of it. The point is, convenience. And as we all know from WiFi, once it caught on, quality components became much cheaper as demand grew. Here’s to hoping the wireless audio industry goes the same way.

    Apple’s decision is actually very courageous. Not saying it was right or wrong, but I am saying that for a company to take their most successful product and make a change that people will hate, ridicule and not understand does take courage. It might be incredibly dumb and blow up in their faces, but making a decision that could cost you dearly if made at the wrong time or handled in the wrong way takes courage. Apple believes that all the tech that is needed to make a wireless audio future is here. It just needs 3rd party developers and customers to be pushed to innovate and to purchase in this space. And they believe this enough they are willing to in one sense bet the future of their most successful product on it. If that’s not courage I’d like to know what it is. It might be rash, dumb, crazy or stupid…. but it’s certainly courageous.

    Finally Apple did make wireless earbuds that are on par with their wired ones. People that have used them say they feel and sound great and the pairing and automatic switching of devices is as smooth as you can get. Time will tell obviously, and while I’m not a fan of them personally it’s not because of their audio, it’s because I’d certainly loose one of them and the battery life is just too short for me at this point. But I’m rather interested in looking to the beats over ear lineup to see if they can offer better battery life with their significantly larger footprint.