The case for and against ditching the iPhone headphone jack

There's a rumor circulating that Apple is planning to ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack from its next iPhone. If this does happen to be the case then it will be a bold move, and there are pros and cons to doing it.

iPhone headphone jack
iFixit

There's a rumor circulating that Apple is planning to ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack from its next iPhone. I've no idea whether it's true or just one of those many pieces of speculation that evaporate. But either way it's an interesting idea, because the headphone jack is so ubiquitous that it seems like it would be impossible for Apple to get rid of it. And yet, while there would certainly be some downsides, overall it might be a good move.

Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons.

Pros

  • The headphone jack takes up a fair amount of space inside the iPhone, and its removal would allow for either a thinner handset or a bigger battery.
  • One less hole for water, dirt and other schmoo to enter the iPhone.
  • It's a very "Apple" thing to do (remember the outcry when they ditched the floppy drive, or the optical drive?).
  • Switching to using the Lightning port could allow headphones to do much more than they currently do.

Cons

  • Losing backward compatibility with existing headphones and anything that uses a 3.5mm jack.
  • Reduced choice of hardware.
  • Possible increase in hardware costs.

Bottom line

I think that it doesn't really matter whether or not Apple drops the humble 3.5mm headphone jack (which has been around for decades). Given how old the technology is it's inevitable that one day it will be replaced by something newer. When that happens there will be the inevitable backlash, but life will carry on.

Do we now mourn the passing of the floppy drive, the optical drive, or the 30-pin iPod connector? No, and the same will be true of the 3.5mm headphone jack.

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