Life Tech Apple may have killed off analogue headphones

Apple may have killed off analogue headphones

Apple's iPhone 7 rang the death knell for the analogue headphone. Photo: Apple
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After months of speculation, Apple’s launch of the iPhone 7 on Thursday morning (AEST) rang the death knell for the analogue headphone jack.

Apple Senior Vice President Philip Schiller declared the move to eliminate the 3.5mm headphone socket – a fixture of nearly every modern-day personal audio device since Sony first blew collective minds with its initial Walkman – was primarily about the “courage to move on, do something new that benefits all of us”.

Apple’s standpoint, according to Schiller, goes: “We all want more. We want bigger and brighter displays. We want larger batteries. We want faster processors. We want stereo speakers. We want Taptic engines. We want all of that – and it’s all fighting for space within that same enclosure.

“Maintaining an ancient, single-purpose analogue connector doesn’t make sense, because that space is at a premium.”

iPhone 7 includes EarPods that have a Lightning connector instead of a 3.5mm analogue plug, which connects directly to the one remaining port on the phone. There’s also a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter to keep you rocking your favourite headset.

No, you can’t charge your phone while using this adapter, but, honestly, how often do you actually do this?

Responses to the change have naturally been predictable:

Quite frankly, it’s about time

First, let’s nip one thing in the bud: the choice whether to convert to a pair of wireless headphones has not been taken from you.

The removal of the analogue headphone jack from iPhone 7 is not a sinister move to force users to shell out hundreds of dollars for new headphones. Yes, change can be difficult, but this is essentially a future-proofing move we’ll soon see other manufacturers follow.

Considering high-speed Bluetooth transfer has been around for roughly 10 years, the reality is we’ve been tethered to annoying cables far longer than is necessary – wireless is the way forward.

The move away from analogue headphones is a future-proofing move others will follow. Photo: Apple

Same old, same old

If you choose to upgrade to iPhone 7, you will go on using headphones as you always did; either plugged directly into the Lightning port or into the new adapter.

Your old headphones will still get tangled up in your bag or pocket, or crushed when you sit on them or ruined when the cable is chewed by your cat. Their lifespan will still hinge on the strength of the cable where it joins the plug. Life, as they say, will go on.

The gains for sacrificing the headphone jack should make its removal feel like a bump in the road along the way to a wireless, digitally rich future.

The gains from sacrificing the headphone jack should be a bump in the road to a digitally rich future. Photo: Apple

Other improvements you can look forward to in iPhone 7 include:

  • Dual-lens with optical and digital zoom up to 10x with iPhone 7 Plus
  • Waterproof up to 1 metre
  • Quad-LED True Tone flash – 50% brighter than iPhone 6s
  • Two hours longer battery than iPhone 6
  • Home button with haptic feedback
  • New gloss black or matt black finish

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