Stop whining about the iPhone headphone jack!

It seems that people are really attached to the idea of the iPhone having a headphone jack. But if Apple does remove it, it's unlikely to summon the tech equivalent of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Man, if I ever needed proof that some people don't have enough to worry about and have to resort to manufacturing dramas to get through the day, it's the hyperventilation and doom-mongering over the rumor that Apple will ditch the headphone jack in the upcoming iPhone in favor of using the Lightning port to handle power and I/O.

It's time to stop whining and prepare for the change.

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Here's the deal - if (and at this stage in the game, it is an if) Apple does dump the headphone jack in favor of using the Lightning port, the vast majority of iPhone buyers won't care one jot. There will be Lightning headphones - and possibly a 3.5mm adapter - in the box for those who want wired headphones, and the rest can go back to using Bluetooth.

If Apple includes a 3.5mm to Lightning adapter with every new iPhone, then no one will have to leave his or her favorite headphones behind.

"But what about people who want to charge their iPhone and use headphones?" Again, I think that this is an edge case, but Apple could make this problem moot by adding wireless charging to the iPhone.

It's the perfect win-win situation.

I am sympathetic to people who, like my ZDNet buddy David Gewirtz, have built a workflow around the iPhone and the 3.5mm jack. It's annoying when changes interfere with a well-established workflow, and it can put a real dent in productivity. But rolling with these punches just is a fact of life, and we're always at the whim of software and hardware changes. Just ask anyone who has built a workflow around Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, or Microsoft Windows.

Things change, and we have to adapt and overcome.

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If you have a workflow that might be disrupted by Apple removing the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone, then I recommend the following:

  • Stick with your current setup for the foreseeable future. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! The app and hardware landscape will be very different in a year or so after Apple drops the headphone jack, and I expect that there will be no end of new gadgets taking up the slack.
  • If your current iPhone is on its beam-ends and you don't think it'll last a year, then either gamble and buy a new device now, or wait and see what happens (changes are there will still be an iPhone with a 3.5mm jack available for some time).
  • Take a look at all the Bluetooth transmitters/receivers that are out there. Yes, it's another dongle, but once you've integrated one into your workflow, it should be pretty straightforward.
  • If you really need a physical headphone jack then consider another device (the iPad is you need iOS, or an Android device or PC).

I'll be honest with you; I'm no fan of the 3.5mm jack. It's old technology and offers a perfect entry point for water, dirt, dust and other schmoo into a device. I've lost count of the number of devices I've come across with damaged headphone jacks, and believe that shifting over either to a wireless solution, or the more robust Lightning port, as a good thing.

Also, is it any wonder that Apple, a company well-known for eliminating things before anyone else - floppy drives, optical drives, ports - is now considering giving an old port the shove? The elimination of the headphone jack not only means fewer components inside the iPhone - which, in turn, reduce component and assembly costs - but purges a common failure point.

Bottom line, if Apple includes a 3.5mm to lightning adapter, then most people will be happy. If Apple adds wireless charging to the iPhone, either this time around or in the future, then that solves the issue of being able to charge the device and use wired headphones.

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