We knew it was coming before it happened, thanks to plenty of rumors. But when Apple actually did it, people had some opinions. Now it has been several years since Apple launched the iPhone X and removed the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone lineup. But is it time to bring it back?
Not too long ago, Apple welcomed some new features to Apple Music: Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos and lossless playback. Both are noteworthy additions for the music streaming service — especially considering Apple launched them without charging any extra money. So as long as you’re a subscriber, have supported headphones or speakers, you can take advantage of these features.
Which sounds simple enough. But then things get interesting when you start dealing with the nitty gritty details of both.
We’re not going to break it all down here. At least, not all of it. We’re not going to talk about Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos this time around, since that feature has already started winning me over. No, this time I want to focus more on lossless audio — the feature that Apple knows is more for enthusiasts than anything else, and perhaps not as important as Spatial Audio.
Eddy Cue made it perfectly clear in at least one interview that Spatial Audio is the more important element for Apple Music moving forward. And more than that, the music industry as a whole. Lossless audio, meanwhile, is meant to offer something more to the listening experience, yes, but it honestly feels like Apple’s just checking a box for what a music streaming service should offer and calling it good.
Which probably means we’ve already got an answer to the offered question. Still, I wanted to get your opinion on the matter, even if we can surmise where Apple stands on the matter.
In brief: lossless audio requires wired headphones to work. None of the wireless headphones that Apple offers, including the AirPods Max, support listening to lossless audio. This isn’t just Apple being arbitrary, though, because it’s Bluetooth that can’t decode it. It’s just not possible currently.
There are several “levels” of lossless audio options. Right out of the gate, the iPhone’s built-in DAC supports 24-bit, 48kHz, which means you actually don’t need headphones with a 3.5mm headphone jack. Just plug in some Lightning headphones and you’ll be good to go. Meanwhile, the Mac with a 3.5mm headphone jack also supports 24-bit, 48kHz. Finally, the Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter that Apple offers (for $9.00) makes it so more traditional headphones can hear lossless audio.
So, there are options that don’t require a 3.5mm headphone jack built into the iPhone itself. And yet, there are still a lot of people out there in the wild still requesting a headphone jack make its return to the iPhone lineup. And not just in the least expensive model, either. A proper feature to add to the bullet list of reasons to buy a new device.
There are still reviews that knock the newest iPhones, albeit with a minor negative sentiment, for not having a headphone jack.
What do you think? Is it time, thanks to improvements with Apple Music, for the company to bring back the headphone jack? Do you think it would earn Apple some goodwill? Or should Apple instead work out a way to make it so AirPlay can stream lossless audio without the required hardware?