Three Reasons Apple Killed the 3.5mm Headphone Jack

If you only know one thing about the upcoming iPhone 7, it’s that Apple decided not to include a 3.5mm headphone jack in the new model. You undoubtedly know this because your friends complain about it on social media. You can’t look at Facebook or Twitter without learning more about this debacle, right?

Stop for a second and consider the likelihood that Apple knows more about electronics than your friends. The company has good reasons for eliminating headphone jacks from its flagship phone. Unfortunately, you may not like all of those reasons.

Apple Wants to Save Space

The size of a headphone jack may seem inconsequential to you, but engineers have a different perspective. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have the same dimensions as the iPhone 6 models. The iPhone 7, however, comes with a faster processor and improved battery. Designers have to find room for updated features. At some early stage in the design process, an engineer realized that removing the headphone jack would free up enough space to improve the phone’s capabilities.

While you may not like losing a headphone jack, you probably appreciate faster speeds. It’s a trade Apple decided to make.

Apple Wants to Improve Sound Quality

The 3.5mm headphone jack has been around for a long time. It’s the same piece of technology Sony used in the first Walkman. Headphone jacks work perfectly well for most instances, but they have some issues that will become increasingly problematic over the next decade.

The biggest issue: 3.5mm headphone jacks use analog technology. Your smartphone, however, plays digital music files. The average person can’t hear a significant difference, but audiophiles cringe at the idea of converting signals. A lot of people who really care about audio quality buy converters for their iPhones, especially if they plan to connect their mobile devices to stereo systems with good speakers.

By updating to a digital port, Apple is pushing its fans to embrace a product that makes music sound better. Updating to new technology always chafes customers. Eventually, though, consumers will look back at today’s smartphones and wonder how anyone could stand listening to music on them. It will seem nearly as outdated as listening to 8-track tapes.

Apple Wants Even More Control Over Its Ecosystem

It’s clear that eliminating the 3.5mm jack benefits iPhone 7 users for the above reasons. Apple hasn’t made these changes simply to make your music sound better, though. It also wants more control over the products you buy.

Apple has a history of building computers (including smartphones) that lock owners into the company’s ecosystem. When the iPod came out, it forced people to use iTunes, which put Apple in a great position to sell music files to its customers. When you buy an Apple product, you commit to its ecosystem of hardware and software.

Apple likely believes that it’s latest change will encourage people to buy more of its wireless headphones, which is really unfortunate since the headphones look like tiny blowdryers. The move has worked well for Apple in the past, though, so it could lead to higher profits for the company.

In the end, that’s what Apple wants: to build a better smartphone that encourages you to buy more Apple products so it can make more money. Removing the headphone jack is just part of that strategy.

Image via Flickr by p_a_h