On the future of the 3.5mm headphone jack »

There’s a fun rumor making the rounds this weekend, as Jeremy Horwitz reports at 9to5Mac:

Citing a reliable source, a report from Japanese blog Macotakara claims that Apple plans to remove the 3.5mm headphone port from the upcoming iPhone 7, helping to achieve a “more than 1mm” reduction in thickness compared to the iPhone 6s. While the screen shape and radius will remain similar, the device will once again become Apple’s thinnest iPhone ever, albeit with a new restriction: headphones will only be able to connect over Lightning or Bluetooth.

Horwitz goes on:

The report claims that Apple will bundle Lightning connector-equipped EarPods with the next iPhone, incorporating a tiny DA (Digital to Analog) converter into the connector. To insure iPhone 7 compatibility, third-party wired headphone makers will need to include either Lightning cables or 3.5mm to Lightning adapters with their headphones. Bluetooth headphone makers will have no such issues.

There’s no doubt that this would be, as John Gruber wrote, “a totally Apple-y thing to do.” The 3.5mm jack is somewhat fragile, fairly large (including in depth), and decidedly old.

I’m sure Apple will offer a $19 adaptor — which won’t be included in the box — for people who want or need something better than the built-in EarPods. For consumers who just use what comes with their phones and Bluetooth in their cars, this change won’t be a huge deal.

I don’t see this killing off the 3.5mm interface, though.

The headphone jack is more universal than anything else I can think of in the electronics world. It’s on every device that can output sound on the planet, and is found in cars, AV systems and everything in between. While Apple may gain thinness and simplicity by removing it, it’s a mighty big standard to move away from. I have a feeling this report is accurate, so I’m just going to set aside $19 now.