Rumor suggests the iPhone 7 will ditch the headphone jack

The next iPhone might drop the standard 3.5mm headphone jack in favor of Lightning-based headphones, according to a new rumor.

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Jason Snell

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The standard 3.5-millimeter headphone jack is everywhere—from computers to smartphones to stereo equipment to that Walkman from 1987 sitting in your closet. But if a new rumor is to be believed, your next iPhone might not have one.

According to the Japanese tech site Mac Otakara, Apple is planning to cut the ubiquitous 3.5mm headphone jack in the iPhone 7, opting instead for Lightning-based headphones. According to Mac Otakara, the removal of the headphone jack appears to be part of an effort to further slim down the iPhone: The site claims the next iPhone will be a full millimeter thinner than the current model, the iPhone 6s.

Mac Otakara also says that the new iPhone will come with Lightning-based EarPods, and will support third-party Bluetooth and Lightning-based headphones. If you want to use 3.5mm headphones, you’d have to rely on an adapter dongle of some sort, the report states.

Signs point at ‘maybe’

While it’s a good idea to remain skeptical of any rumor, there are a couple indications that this one might be for real. MacRumors characterizes Mac Otakara as “often-reliable,” which would seem to give this latest rumor some credence. And as MacRumors notes, Apple introduced the MFi specification for Lighting-based headphones last year, so Apple may have been laying the groundwork for transition away from the headphone jack for a while.

Apple also has a long history of dropping older technology in its products, either to make room for new features or slim down its gear. The original iMac, for example, lacked a floppy drive, but it helped popularize USB. More recently, the 12-inch Retina MacBook ditched almost all ports in favor of a headphone jack and a single USB-C port.

It’s important to note that Apple wouldn’t be the first smartphone maker to drop the headphone jack—the HTC G1, the first Android-based smartphone, also shipped without a headphone jack. But given Apple’s size, influence, and market position, shipping an iPhone without a headphone jack might push other manufacturers to follow suit.

Such a development may lead to a fractured headphone market, but it’s also possible that Apple has other, bigger plans for the Lightning connector. Only time will tell. 

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