Apple Doesn't Know Jack, Part 1

It is summer. Soon it will be fall. That means Apple will introduce a new iPhone. Reportedly, the new phone will be thinner, more water resistant, have a better camera, have more memory, and not have a headphone jack. Wait. What?

The iPhone 7, or whatever it will be called, will lose the headphone jack. At least that's the rumor. The reason for doing this is quite simple. Designing and building phones is enormously difficult. Countless numbers of employees have to get up in the morning, go into the office, read emails, have meetings, and occasionally fly all the way across the ocean to China. Frankly, Apple is tired of all the hassle and figures that if they take away the headphone jack, people will stop buying iPhones, and that will make the whole thing just go away.

It is also possible that Apple actually wants to keep selling iPhones. Given that scenario, the idea of omitting the headphone jack is more difficult to explain.

It can't because of cost. It can't be because headphone jacks are just too bulky. It can't be because headphone jacks can't be made waterproof. Rather, Apple must see some advantage to omitting the headphone jack. Let's think about that. If there's no headphone jack, there would be two ways to listen to music: a) some kind of dongle that plugs into the proprietary Lightning port. b) a Bluetooth connection.

Apple doesn't have many fans in the audio community. The company, for all its clout, hasn't ever done much of anything to significantly improve audio quality or the field of audio engineering.

We might surmise that Apple may omit the headphone jack because it would make more money that way. It could sell headphone dongles. Cost to manufacture: $1. Retail price: $20. Profit! Or, a Bluetooth-only connection would instantly obsolete all of the billion zillion 3.5mm wired headphones out there. Apple, conveniently the owner of Beats, could sell lots of Bluetooth headphones. Profit! Or, Beats could sell Lightning headphones. Profit! There are already some some 3rd-party Lightning headphones out there, but they must pay for a Lightning license. Profit!

Frankly, Apple doesn't have many fans in the audio community. The company, for all its clout, hasn't ever done much of anything to significantly improve audio quality or the field of audio engineering in general. It could be argued that its bundled earbuds have done much to degrade expectations of audio quality. Omitting the headphone jack would burn everyone with a pair of good headphones or at least foist a dongle tax on their use. But Apple has never been an audio company, so what difference at this point does it make?

Alternatively, maybe the rumors all false. Maybe the next iPhone will have a headphone jack. It is summer. Soon it will be fall. We'll see.

Actually, a thought just occurred to me. Apple has the opportunity to do something brilliant here. Omitting the headphone jack, for all the PITAs it would cause, could be a big step forward for contemporary audio playback if Apple adds a certain new feature. Hmmm. Let me think this though, and I'll get back to you next time.

boulderskies's picture

"The company, for all its clout, hasn't ever done much of anything to significantly improve audio quality or the field of audio engineering."
Huh. I didnt realize the mission of Apple was any of those things. I guess creating the first intuitive way of accessing all of one's music (iTunes) was insignificant.

alien_code's picture

Yes Itunes was and is insignificant and a waste of space on everyone's HDD. I suppose if you have a mac you may be the type of person who needs it. I prefer my bryston for accessing my music collection.

boulderskies's picture

I'm happy for you but the reality is that you are in the minority when it comes to the subject. Additionally, Apple does have a lossless codec that subjectively speaking, isnt half bad. Finally, from a personal opinion standpoint, I wouldnt be surprised to see iTunes begin to incorporate FLAC and hi-rez formats.

John Sully's picture

And ALAC supports hi-res formats. I have a couple of hundred ALAC files in 24/96. Most of my collection is in 16/44 rips from CD.

However, iTunes is a horrendous waste of space and time unless you have an iPod. I use my iPod in my car so I need iTunes because it downsamples files while copying them to my iPod Classic 160Gb. AFAIK there is no other digital music manager which will do that -- please tell me if there is one, I've been looking.

alien_code's picture

Yes I know I am among the minority. So many people have little understand of the loss of quality in audio that itunes and compressed forms of music has on the enjoyment you get from lossless codecs such as FLAC. Even Bluetooth is a joke when it comes to audio quality. People who like iTunes and apple usually fall into the category of, not tech savvy and not really appreciative of good audio quality. Its more about convenience and branding. I want to have a full sonic music experience so no bluetooth or itunes for me. Just FLAC and SACD.

John Sully's picture

I use my receiver to access it or I use my phone as a CP and my receiver or Bluetooth as a renderer.

You still need the hated (and boy do I hate it) iTunes if you have an iPod.

prerich45's picture

I'm a Jriver and Roon fan myself. iTunes is banished from my PC.

boulderskies's picture

I realize today that I inadvertently hijacked the original post by bringing up iTunes. The original subject was the possible elimination of the iPhone headphone jack. Personally, with the widespread adoption of Bluetooth and other wireless transmission schemes, I think its a great idea. No more wires hanging down your chest. I realize we can do this now; eliminating the jack just gives us a gentle nudge. So...why not?

reallynotnick's picture

Because charging things is a pain in the ass, not to mention there is no good standard for using your headphones with a bunch of different devices. I don't want to have to pair my headphones every time I want to use them with my laptop instead of my phone.

boulderskies's picture

As in other pairing, once the device is paired once, it will be paired automatically thereafter. And...charging devices is sort of a way of life these days-get used to it.