Today is a big day in the world of technology. The long-awaited iPhone 7 has been officially revealed and the most controversial change that Apple has made is the removal of the ever-prevalent headphone jack.
Apple’s other changes to the prolific smartphone include water resistance, an improved camera, and more. But for the sake of this article, we’re focusing specifically on the ramifications that the removal of the headphone jack will have on the average consumer.
First, here’s how Apple described the changes:
“New stereo speakers offer amazing and immersive sound that is two times louder than iPhone 6s, offering increased dynamic range of sound and a higher quality speakerphone. The new iPhone comes with EarPods with Lightning connector to deliver incredible sound, as well as a 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter that allows customers to use old headphones and accessories.”
They then go on to introduce a new offering, wireless earbuds that are designed specifically for this absence of a headphone jack.
“New AirPods, Apple’s innovative new wireless headphones, weave simplicity and technology together to reinvent the wireless experience making headphones easy to use. Featuring the new Apple W1 chip, AirPods have extremely efficient wireless communication for a better connection, improved sound and industry-leading battery life. AirPods harness the power of Siri, allowing you to access your favorite personal assistant with just a double tap.”
Check out a picture of them with the new iPhone 7 below:
At least they have some good music playing…
Here’s the thing. These “AirPods” come at quite the high price, being released as an additional accessory for the new iPhone 7, for $159.
As a consumer that is actively looking for a new phone, this just doesn’t seem right to me. Apple is first removing the headphone jack so that my $350 V-MODA’s now require an adapter (which is graciously provided in-box). Plug in that adapter and suddenly I can’t charge my shiny, new iPhone 7 while listening to music at the same time. That’s a pretty glaring flaw.
My next option would be to buy new Bluetooth headphones or the AirPods, which means hundreds of dollars of additional expense on top of the $650 base price of the iPhone 7. See where I’m going with this? The removal of the headphone jack by Apple will cost the consumer just to listen to music.
Now comes the argument that it’s worth it. “It’s a technological advancement,” some people might say. However that line of thought couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s actually a pretty serious step back.
TechCrunch laid it out most thoroughly in their analysis of this decision by Apple. TL;DR?
- Bluetooth is a pain in the ass.
- Everything already has a headphone jack.
- A headphone jack does a lot more than you think. See: microphones, small-business credit card readers, countless other accessories.
- A headphone jack does a lot more than USB or lightning jacks can. It has one channel in, two channels out, and even provides a small amount of power to micro-processors in headphones and other accessories.
In return for these detractors, this is what Apple promises us in the newly freed up space:
- Stereo speakers – two, instead of one, which has come standard on most Android devices for years.
- Haptic feedback engine for the home button – so basically the home button won’t be “clicky” anymore (many Android phones have had this for years as well).
- Water resistance – another thing that many, many Android devices have been able to achieve with headphone jack in tow, most notably the Galaxy S series.
- Allegedly slightly improved audio quality – most users won’t be able to discern anyway, and certainly not with Bluetooth headphones.
That’s it. That’s literally it. Apple took away one of the most ubiquitous and most-loved pieces of every smart phone, and attempted to make up for it by adding a few “new” features that competitors have had figured out for a long, long time – headphone jack and all.
It’s a money grab, in my opinion, plain and simple. I just hope that nobody else follows in Apple’s suit.
If you’re still interested, here’s a few hands on videos with the new iPhone 7 courtesy of The Verge:
Images courtesy of Apple