Ask Hackaday: Does Apple Know Jack About Headphones?

If you’ve watched the tech news these last few months, you probably have noticed the rumors that Apple is expected to dump the headphone jack on the upcoming iPhone 7. They’re not alone either. On the Android side, Motorola has announced the Moto Z will not have a jack. Chinese manufacturer LeEco has introduced several new phones sans phone jack. So what does this mean for all of us?

This isn’t the first time a cell phone company has tried to design out the headphone jack. Anyone remember HTC’s extUSB, which was used on the Android G1? Nokia tried it with their POP Port. Sony Ericsson’s attempt was the FastPort. Samsung tried a dizzying array of multi-pin connectors. HP/Palm used a magnetic adapter on their Veer. Apple themselves tried to reinvent the headphone jack by recessing it in the original iPhone, breaking compatibility with most of the offerings on the market. All of these manufacturers eventually went with the tried and true ⅛” headphone jack. Many of these connectors were switched over during an odd time in history where Bluetooth was overtaking wired “hands-free kits”, and phones were gaining the ability to play mp3 files.

OldPhonePlugs By Andrewa CC-BY-SA-3.0

The humble phone jack may well be the oldest electrical connector still in common use. The original ¼” (6.35mm) jacks were developed back in 1878. They were used as patch connections in manual telephone switchboards. Two conductor connectors had a Tip and a Sleeve (TS). Three conductor connectors had Tip, Ring and Sleeve (TRS). These names are still used in the telephone industry for identifying the positive (tip) and negative (ring) wire of a POTS line. Add a fourth conductor, and you’ve got TRRS.

The ⅛” (3.5mm) miniature jack and the 3/32” (2.5mm) sub-miniature versions appeared in the 1960’s on transistor radios. In 1979, the Sony Walkman made the stereo ⅛” phone jack a common consumer standard.

As connectors go, they’re not half bad. Phone jacks are orientation agnostic, and can rotate without breaking connection. They have become an issue in phones though. Thinner and thinner phones have created lower profile sockets. With less plastic in the socket body, these jacks become more prone to breakage – especially when subjected to heavy use.

Headphone port used in the Nexus 5

The ⅛” hole is a highway to a phone’s internals for dust, water, or anything else you don’t want getting into your phone.

So if phone companies are going away from the classic ⅛” phone jack, what options do we have?

  • USB Type-C:  USB-C allows for digital audio at 44 or 96 kHz using a headphone mounted DAC. The connector also allows for analog stereo audio through the sideband pins.
  • Lightning: Apple’s Lightning supports digital audio at 48 kHz, but does not support analog audio.
  • Bluetooth: These days every phone has the option of Bluetooth audio, however Bluetooth has a reputation for terrible audio quality.
Dongles are back!
Dongles are back!

Potential problems:

  • DRM: With Apple, the biggest issue is going to be DRM. Lightning connector devices must pass Apple’s MFI tests. Apple has gone as far as specifying which DACs will be allowed in headphones. This will only serve to drive costs up.
  • Charging: How do you charge your phone if you’ve got your headphones plugged in? I’m sure there will be stackable connectors, or adapters with a port for charging – which leads us to…
  • Dongles: Adapters, dongles, call them what you like. There will be USB-C to ⅛”, Lightning to ⅛”, in all shapes and sizes. Just one more adapter to carry around (and lose).

So I pass the question on our readers: How do you like to connect your headphones? Would you buy a smartphone without a headphone jack? Let us know down in the comments!

148 thoughts on “Ask Hackaday: Does Apple Know Jack About Headphones?

  1. I love how people are being lathered into a froth over tumors.

    We know nothing concrete about the next iPhone. Not even that it will actually be called the iPhone 7.

    What I know from the past, however, is that Apple has managed similar transitions really quite well. There was outrage from the usual suspects over removing floppies, optical drives, switching to USB-C… And yet the world continued to revolve. Go figure.

        1. There are two times I use headphones; listening to MP3’s on my laptop, and listening to MP3’s on my phone. Thus, if I’m not sitting at my desk, I’m plugged into my phone.

          That includes plane trips, waiting in line, listening in bed, audio input jacks on rental cars, and hooking up audio to any darn place I wish. If I lose the stereo socket on my phone, I lose 90% of my music enjoyment. No thanks.

          And, no, I’m not interested in replacing my Koss, or my Sennheiser, or my JVC noise-canceling headphones with some overpriced scam (Beats, I’m talking to you. Which reminds me, are you going to throw out your Beats phones because they’re “out of date” now?). If I need a quick fix, I can get some earbuds in a dollar store — for $1. Do you think Apple’s going sell me some fancy-phones for anything less than 25 times that much? (Hint: it’s all profit — they could charge any price that people are willing to pay.)

          Bottom line? No jack, no deal. Some vendor wants to be “cool” to the point of being stupid? Fine. No sale. Too many fish in the sea.

          If you keep breaking off headphone jacks, consider treating your phone more like the “delicate electronic instrument” that it is and less like “it’s a child’s toy and you’re 9 years old.”

          1. Same here not 1/8″ jack I will not buy the product.
            BT headphones mean there is now one more thing to recharge or change the batteries in which is too much hassle USB-C mean you can use head phones or you can recharge but not both.

          2. Hi Hugh, Your making an interesting point: not willing to use the charging port for audio because of loosing music enjoyment. I have also seen people say that they do not want to risk breaking the charging port while listening to music, because they want to be able to use the primary function: calling.

            I am looking in solving some issues with the 3.5 mm – 1/8th jack for some years now. I figured that the forces on the jack plug create a moment around the jack in the phone. So we made a plug where the connection with the wire is stored inside the plug, leaving everything flexible outside.

            We call it JackSavior, what do you guys think about such a solution?

      1. No. I downplayed speculation based on nothing more than rumors, and then said separately that on the many occasions in the past Apple has made similar moves that there have been concern trolls that have predicted the end of the world and they have all been wrong.

        1. Well, there are already Android phones with no headphone jack socket, so they (at least) are a bit more than a rumor. No, i would not buy a phone without a 3.5 mm headphone socket.

    1. This is a non-wired option.
      With new devices such as cameras, portable hard drives, and several other types of device starting to incorporate WiFi. It stands to reason headphones would be a logical step. With the limitations of Bluetooth, although it has been improved, it still lacks quality, throughput, and distance that WiFi can offer.

        1. Well, don’t crank it up to 100mW – it’s headphones, not a router. All they need is to receive signal anyway (with rare burst transmission of button controls).

        2. Ok presuming an omnidirectional antenna only half of the “up to 100mW” is going to hit your head so 50mW is going to hit you in a cone radiating from about an inch from your head. My microwave ia 1.6kW and it still takes forever to boil water, there is LITERALLY no way for a microwave source 32000 times weaker to cause enough heat build up to break up DNA or Proteins.
          SUN at sea level is 1.3kW a square meter of, relatively, high frequency visible and ultraviolet light and that only affects us because the photon gives up energy from it’s FREQUERNCY to damage your DNA, you know ionizing radiation and all that, and dehydration from maintaining your core temperature.
          I mean really, confusing ionizing and non ionizing radiation is like saying you’ll go blind from staring a hot frying pan because far IR is practically visible light

    2. Given that lots of people either buy, or get their phone upgraded without thinking, for those who actually like open and compatible systems, theres nothing wrong with making your views known, even if it is based on a rumor at this point.
      Waiting till there’s momentum behind, say the worst case – a DRM enabled system controlled by one company, is not the best time to start complaining.

    3. Removing serial ports and temporary storage devices turned out well because there was an alternative that was much better. But USB and Lightning are not better alternatives to a headphone jack. You will have to either have a tiny, easy to lose adaptor or you will have to get a special headset that you will only use with your phone. No matter what option you choose, you’re out of more money than if it just had that headphone jack.

      Additionally, if USB-C or Lightning is anywhere as bad as MicroUSB is, these ports will wear out extremely quickly.

  2. I’d say they market will dislike and they’ll eventualy switch back.

    Who would prefer a cable adaptor hanging in your pocket instead of a simple jack connector?
    Why complicate simple things? Just to make a thinner phone? Who cares, those phones are soo slim nowadays that almost everyone drop a case on they for extra protection (since they’re getting more and more fragile) or for better grip.

    I’m the person who dislike cases but with LG G3 is so thin in the sides that I barelly could hols with confidence.

    1. It’s not (just) an issue of thin-ness, but space in general. Eyeballing that nexus 5 connector I guess it’s 3x5x12mm, or 18 cubic centimeters, and that could instead be used for battery or other components.

      However, as someone who owned both the HTC Tytn and Google G1, phones that routed audio out the USB port through a proprietary “ExtUSB” adapter, I am still loathe to have *yet* another dongle to carry and lose.

    2. “Who would prefer a cable adaptor hanging in your pocket instead of a simple jack connector?”

      No one. But thats why you buy a Apple-approved Apple connector isn’t it ?
      Just keep ignoring how your options are being reduced by companies slowly boxing you in….

  3. “Would you buy a smartphone without a headphone jack?”

    Hell no. I still remember my old Nokia where it’d be either charging or listening to music, no other way. I remember Sony-Ericsson solving this with pass-through charging plugs, but I have enough proprietary ports in my tech to absolutely hate those.

    1. I had a Motorola flip phone that you connected the hands-free through the Mini USB port. But the problem was that I always need to charge it when I wanted to make a call. Had more or less the same issue with bluetooth, kept forgetting to charge it.

      The problem is our culture likes to consider something “outdated” once it is 5 minutes old. Think of the true progress we would make if we did have to constantly re-invent the wheel.

  4. I personally feel that this is akin to asking people to buy a phone which is non-rechargeable. At some point the amount of money “they” want you to spend to use “their” products (and the lengths they go to to keep it that way) is so absurd that they deserve to loose market share for their stupidity. There is not a chance in hell that you would ever convince me to purchase such an ill-conceived device. [Note that I said purchase. Free phones are always welcome.]

  5. This isn’t the first time a cell phone company has tried to design out the headphone jack.

    Correct me if I’m terribly wrong, but back when cell phones really started to become consumer products, pretty much all of them started out without headphone jacks. Because, remember, media players weren’t a thing on phones until a generation later. I distinctly remember being really happy about the second or third of my Nokias not requiring a special adapter and finally coming with a 3.5mm headphone jack as well as an MP3 player.

    1. I’m pretty sure most cellphones started to adopt them pretty early on if for nothing more than for headsets. Most people probably don’t remember their phone having one because the cellphones didn’t come with media players and most people didn’t use headsets. tho I’m sure there where plenty that came without them and no one really noticed the lack of them because again they weren’t using them.

      1. Most cell phones before the iPhone had the sub-miniature(2.5mm) headphone jack for headsets not the full size 1/8″ style jacks. There were a few notable exception, but I remember all the articles praising Apple for finally bringing the 1/8″ jack to a phone as a standard feature.

        1. Ah yes I remember having to have the sub mini to 1/8 adapter for my first “smart phone”, some cingular device with a “touchscreen” and slide out “keyboard”, none of which worked well. I lost so many of the adapters that I bought a bunch of plugs and jacks off ebay and made up about 10 or 15 of my own flexable adapters and put them on every set of headphones I thought I might use. I seem to remember, in a fit of rage, hardwiring a sub mini plug to my favorite set after I lost my last dongle. After having that phone for a year I bought the first iphone and I remember that one little change being the one thing that made me go out and drop the $500 on the iphone shortly after it came out.

      1. I think the rhetoric here is Smartphones and not the old bag/brick phones of yesteryore

        I can’t agree when not a sentence later the author mentions Nokia’s “Pop-port” that was their standard before they introduced 3.5mm jacks.

        1. I guess the title is lost on you then, about Apple (i.e. a smartphone/PC company) dropping the headphone jack… Not about 20 year old cell phones that could not even store a sound file to playback on headphones… Sorry to be a bugger, but looking back there is not any “Smart” phones with media players. You can disagree all you want but that does not change the title of the posting.

          1. Of course it’s silly to harp on such minute details, and please take this with a complete agreement from my side, I’m not trying to rile up a dispute, please picture me smiling and handing you a virtual beer.

            Still, I have to correct you on your history: A Nokia 6230 of 2004 vintage was perfectly able to serve as an audio player for MP3s, it took memory cards and everything. And only had that dreaded Pop-port, no 3.5mm port. It wasn’t called “smart phone” at the time though, that term only came along with the ever so slightly more advanced Symbian devices. Which by themselves have been a far cry from what we call “smart phone” nowadays, of course.

          2. So it took the reply button away, so I am replying up here. I totally hear what you are saying and please forgive my dry remarks through this comment section. Please understand that I was not trying to troll your post and make it uneasy. My point was about the article’s view of the industry taking such a turn on legacy hardware features. (think 3.5 inch floppy disk drives or even optical drives). The headphone jack being taken away is so controversial that is why Rhetoric must start or we are doomed with keeping track of dongles or some sort of other “superior” technology. What apple made popular (think ipod and white earbuds of the day), apple taketh away. Thanks for the virtual beer and here is to you.

          3. Palm’s first smartphone (really the first true smartphone that we’d recognize as such) had a 1/8″ jack and with PTunes could play MP3. But who gets the credit? That perennial second-comer Apple.

    2. That’s what I was getting at with “Many of these connectors were switched over during an odd time in history where Bluetooth was overtaking wired “hands-free kits”, and phones were gaining the ability to play mp3 files.”
      It took a surprisingly long time for phone manufacturers (first feature phone, then smartphone) to move to the 1/8″ standard.

  6. The 3.5mm headphone jack is standard IMO because it works and has worked since forever ago. There are so many high quality headphones out there on the market that have been around for ages. Breaking hardware compatibility just to be unwieldingly thin isn’t a good thing for me. If there were (real) issues with it that needed to be addressed, then yeah change it. BUT there aren’t, so don’t mess with it! I’m an audiophile and I absolutely love my V-MODA Crossfade LP headphones and would be extremely disappointed if I couldn’t use them with new mobile multimedia devices (read: phones). I’ll stick with my S5 Active, thanks.

    1. Yeah, I can’t understand why people want to move away from it, towards having to use dongles and dealing with compatibility issues. The 3.5mm is not really that large in comparison to the space taken by even microUSB ports, and if attached properly, is unlikely to break anytime soon, while USB ports break left and right. I will say that I’ve had some 3.5 jacks break in two of my past phones, however I attribute that to Samsung being cheap with their manufacturing practices. And add in orientation invariance and a non-flimsy metal connection, and there’s no reason to get rid of it. Maybe these vendors need to just find extra uses for it to justify its presence (IR remote adaptor, anyone?).

    1. +1 NEVER used the headphone jack on my current phone, and Bluetooth headphones are so cheap now a days. If apple supplied a free pair with every phone i’m pretty sure the switch will be a success any anyone complaining about quality will get BETTER quality with a nice DAC vs the crap one built into phones.

      1. While I use Bluetooth for casual listening, I’ve killed two bluetooth headsets due to sweat while mowing the yeard and/or working out. I now use a cheep $4 pair of earbuds while mowing and only use the bluetooth when I’m not going to be perspiring.

      2. >quality will get BETTER […] with a nice DAC vs the crap one built into phones.

        ha ha what

        Bluetooth headphones, unless otherwise specified, are going to have the bare minimum in terms of a DAC. While high-end phones and headsets should be comparable, the rest of them (and especially the low-end ones) will have the phone with far better audio quality than the headset. The extra cost of a good DAC, even a discrete one, is much more greatly swamped by the BOM on a $200 phone vs. a $20 headset.

        Moreover, it DOESN’T EVEN MATTER whether or not that’s true. This isn’t you being given the choice between BT or a jack. This is the choice between BT and a jack or BT and no jack. You already HAVE the option of your SuperHQ69420 Hi-Fi Xtreme Edition wireless headset. Unless you have some very specific reason to avoid the 3.5mm connector, why the hell would you give yourself fewer options for the same price? You’re insane if you think lowering the total cost of the phone by mere cents is going to somehow translate to any (let alone worthwhile) savings on the part of the consumer. Meanwhile, those who do use the connector in one way or another get screwed with nothing to show for it.

        And FFS I reported your comment on accident. I hate the location of the “report comment” button on HaD, I really do.

  7. I’ve gone all Bluetooth for my audio: A Moto device in my old car, built-in in my new car, and a refurbed pair of Sony BT noise-cancelling for planes. Haven’t used the headphone jack in about 7 months since my previous NC cans gave up the ghost (Jabra brand, decidedly not-sturdy plastic)

  8. I hate cables so I always use wireless!
    Get a good pair of BT headphones like Plantronics Backbeat Pro or Sony MDRXB950BT.
    I got the Backbeat Pro and the sound quality is very good both on Apt-x and regular BT codec.
    Not as good as my Sennheisers at home but for a mobile solution the quality is well above expectations.

    The only thing i wish for is a better headset codec (not headphone codec) that doesn’t make the calls sound like they are coming out of a tin can sunk in a fish tank locked into a shed on easter island during a hurricane.

    1. would second the backbeats.. those things are my goto travel headphones. day to day I use aftershokz because you can hear the phone and the world around you(and they easily last a few days on a charge.. or a full day of listening, as i’ve recently discovered.. thanks pokemon). but I 100% agree, go wireless!

      now if only more headphones were multi device (sort of like the backbeats) so you can just start your media on the device you prefer and they just take over and start playing it. interrupting if a phone call comes in on another device. I’d love to have my headphones connected to my pc, phone, and tablet that way. (backbeats only does two, so I currently have them on my tablet and phone) havn’t looked into it, but i’m guessing it’s a current BT limitation, or just cost for handling all of the profiles

      1. arg, reply to my own reply. as an aside, wearing the aftershokz all day gives me the ability to have my notifications on, and be the only one that hears them. which is really nice, and has made me put some actual thought into what notification sound means what to me.

    2. This. People get so upset and immediately claim BT audio is trash, but it really isn’t. I use BT for audio streaming in my vehicle every day and BT headphones (on the rare occasion that i use them) and to my ears it’s good. If you are in the 5-10% of people who say they can tell a difference just resign yourself to carry a dongle or go with a different phone.

        1. This – I have a pair of M50x’s as well. I also have a pair of Shure studio monitor phones (similar price point to the m50x’s) Both use a 2.5mm connector with a proprietary locking plastic base molded onto it at the headphone end. Irks the hell out of me that I can’t replace the cables with a standard 3.5mm to 3.5mm – but it’s better than no connector at all.

    1. Mfgrs switched to the 3.5 from 2.5 when media players merged with phones. Stereo was needed, requiring another contact on the connector. The 3.5’s have 4 contacts vs the 2.5’s 3 contacts.

      1. All the smart(phart) phones here in the UK have the FM radio, and it works. But guess what, it uses the headphone lead as the antenna! (actually, 1/2 the antenna, your hand/body is the other 1/2) Even if you get it to play out of the phone’s speaker(s) I’d like to see them with a DAB RX in, as well as FM, but as yet, I don’t know of any low power solution to recieve DAB. (Digital Audio Broadcasting.)

        1. @Dave B. All the smartphones here in the USA (made in the last few years anyway), have the fm radio in them as well but the manufacturers were told by the carriers to disable it because they want consumers to pay for streaming content and not have a free broadcast medium to listen in to. pressure from this organization is changing all that. AT&T announced June 28 that it will start allowing consumers to enjoy FM on their devices if it is integrated.

  9. I would buy a phone that allows me to make and receive phone calls. Somehow I doubt that this feature is still on the list for “fart phones” (pronounced by someone with a slight lisping issue).

    OK, *if* the phone has to service as a music central as well … I’d tend to go for a classic 3.5mm jack. BUT. I have to admit that all my phones (even the not-so-smart ones) and mp3-players have had connection problems thanks to mechanic force, dirt, humidity and whatsnot more sooner than later.
    So, personally I have switched to using BlueTooth A2DP with aptX (Windows Phone user here, I know, I need to apologize for that – but I want to be able to *use* my phone), since I am usually somewhere in the woods when I am listening to whatever on my phone, not in my private concert hall (text read: water closet) where “audiophile audiofantastology” would have to rule.

    That leads me to a conclusion I did not expect: To hell with audio jacks on phones.

  10. Personally I won’t buy a headphones, bluetooth or otherwise unless they have a headphone jack. Because when your headphone battery dies (assuming bluetooth) you always have the option to just plug it in.

    Same applies to cellphones as far as I’m concerned. I don’t mind if they have bluetooth but I want an analogue fallback.

  11. I never listen to audio on my phone, nor do I ever use a headset to talk hands-free. I couln’t care less about a phone with a headpone jack. If it makes them cheaper and less susceptible to dust and moisture getting in, then I’m all for it.

    1. Sony’s Xperia line of phones are water and dust proof – and have open ports on them that have very good consumer grade IP ratings. I had the Z2, and now have the Z5. Z2 had rubberized covers for the ports, and was capable of 1 meter submersion for 30 minutes and the Z5 is better and the ports are open to the water/dust and are internally waterproofed. So the other companies not making water/dust proof phones have no real excuses, as the phone is comparable in costs to other similarly capable phones (size, memory, CPU, screen size).

  12. Nope. I attach my phone via 1/8 -> RCA to other audio devices. I have a Google audio device that should negate the need for it, but the documentation is so nonexistent that I can’t determine how to operate the thing. I’ll stick with 1/8.

  13. +1 for standardization. I missed out on a new pair of discounted Sony headphones since I couldn’t find anywhere info on the TRRS jack they used, all it said is it may not work with some audio players. what the actual f. Dumb corporations. sigh. I’d hate to be an engineer confined to this marketing baloney

  14. Personally, if usb type-c can provide analog and digital audio, then ok for me, BUT put two usb type-c in the phone. Brands will be happy with small size, no dust or whatever and users can choose analog or digital audio (or dongles from usb to jack if old headphones)

  15. 2 cents:
    1) The world is definitely moving to fully wireless. Who in his sane mind would like wires, given the same functionality and characteristics
    2) Any major transition as this one would take time, would be painful, and would disperse the audience on a spectrum from early adopters to traditional conservative folk.

    So there is no single answer here, just matter of preferences.

      1. That is arguable. (cryptography and stuff, I suppose both of us know, where this argue would lead us)
        Sure, wires will stay in a lot of niches, but IMHO definitely not in mass-market wearable tech.

    1. 1) backward compatibility
      2) battery-free
      3) lighter and smaller (no battery)
      4) robust
      5) universal (adapters)
      6) no commitment to a particular DAC/amp

      The last point is kinda important. You could find a comfortable pair of headphones that come with a terrible DAC/amp and that’s that, and then you have to pay more money for the same pair with a better amp – it’s just another way for manufacturers to screw you over when in fact it’s the same headphones all along.

      Point 5 is also pretty important, becuse wireless standards aren’t… well, very standard. What sort of dongle do you add to convert between one wireless standard and another, or one encoding/protocol to another? It’s just built-in obsolescence because it again enables the manufacturers to swap things around every few years and then all the old devices become broken – whereas analog wired signal paths can always be converted with a physical adapter to work.

      1. Oh, and I also forgot to add 7) repairable

        It’s downright impossible to fix the black plastic blob that houses the wireless components. There won’t be any spare parts or second source units available to cannibalize because you need a critical mass of complaints of a particular product before the public in general notices it’s bad, so the manufacturer changes the model every three years.

        If wired headphones break, you just replace the wire with… wire.

    2. No batteries.
      The dac in the BT headphones is not likely to be good as the one in the phone.
      Better security as in no need to have bluetooth left on.
      Not having BT turned on also improves your phone’s battery life.
      I can connect my phone to any stereo system.
      More car stereos have line in then have BT.
      More choices.
      Cheaper you can go buy a good pair of Sony head phones for only $30 or less.

      I tried BT head phones and was not impressed with any of the offerings under $150 and eventually went back to wired head phones.

  16. The part of the rumor that doesn’t make sense to me is that they want to make the phone thinner. But already the thinnest phones have camera lenses that stick out. Which is awkward, and makes cases less useful, as they now wrap around the camera lenses, instead of actually protecting flush mount lenses. A bit like the newest kindle. Yes, one edge is super thin, but the other isn’t. So was it really an improvement.

  17. It is also possible to get sealed 3.5mm (1/8″ for the colonials) jack sockets, they may get water/dust in them, but it won’t get into the phone, and can be blown out with a jet of air. But, it’s a cost item. It’s always about reducing cost of manufacture, nothing else. Not sure if you can get TRRS 2.5mm connectors, but that would still be incompatible with 99%+ of all after market headsets etc.

    USB (or BT) based audio, can of course be DRM’d. Hmmm… Theres a thought, Hollywood, Sony etc been badgering Apple perhaps about all the ripped music people have on their phones?

    Cynic mode off.


  18. The issues of headphones v. charging is what does it for me. Not that I think losing the traditional headphone port is a good idea, but if it means you can’t charge while headphones are connected (without extra parts) that’s a huge regression.

    What I really want is a pair of hearing-aid sized earbuds that last for 8 hours on a charge and have great audio via BT. How’s that for a handbasket of engineering challenges?

    1. 8 hours is not nearly enough though – especially when the built-in battery starts to fade. If you’re like me with some sort of audio going in almost all the time, whether it’s audiobooks, music, or rain noise to help sleep at night, I’d be more wired in than wireless with just 8 hours of battery life.

      Make it 24.

    1. Any comments about Piracy and needing copy protection via the analog out is just steam at this point. Just another crutch to justify making you have to buy YET ANOTHER piece of overpriced accessory crap, that they can then market to people. For all you BT WIRELESS is mo betta freaks, I would rather NOT have to worry about charging my phone AND my headphones in order to enjoy some music thank you. Thats just what I need: ANOTHER F*cking charger to plug in, and worry about it breaking, and worry about it getting lost etc… I like being able to just ‘Plug in’ my headphones and have them work. Frankly, with phones being used as media devices more and more, some better audio hardware in the phone would be appreciated by a lot of people who listen daily and appreciate good audio reproduction.

  19. That blew my mind. I have long known about telephone wires being referred to as Ring and Tip, but I assumed it had something to do with Ringing a phone bell, not the position of the conductor on a phone jack.

  20. If there are any phone manufactures reading this, PLEASE don’t make your phones any thinner. I have yet to look at a phone and wish that it was thinner, because thinner phones are less comfortable to use. Also, keep the headphone jack for those who don’t want to sacrifice battery live to go wireless, and use any extra space to increase the battery size, so we can use our phones for more than a day without needing to charge.

  21. OR you know….. buy a set of Bluetooth wireless headphones? I have a set that sound fantastic and cost $19.95. all this whining about the loss of that analog port is about the wrong things.

    They want the headphone port gone for two reasons.

    1 – thinner phones! Blame the idiots that put their phones in the back pocket and whine their skinny jeans wont hold a normal phone.

    2 – eliminates the analog hole for the Copyright Cartels.

    1 is just catering to the stupid in the populace, 2 is the most sinister reason… but is too little too late.

    1. Removing the analog headphone port in a phone is going to do absolutely nothing against piracy. Nobody copies music off their phone like that. Really all this would do is make apple phones less desirable to anybody who actually likes their music and doesn’t want to carry around adapters.

    2. I laughed out loud at “copyright cartels”. Slightly related, the recent court decision that sharing Netflix accounts is a federal crime – again I laughed, and will enjoy watching them struggle to enforce that. Cheers

      1. Sharing your netflix account isn’t a crime. Giving your password of a private account to a user who is unauthorized to have it is. That case was about a terminated employee accessing a company database with the password of a current employee. One of the netflix executives commentated on it and said they don’t encourage family sharing of netflix passwords but they understand it’s a great tool to get people on the service.

        1. “Giving your password of a private account to a user who is unauthorized to have it is. ”

          From Netflix’s point of view, that’s exactly what happens when you share your account with someone who hasn’t paid for Netflix.

  22. I kind of expect that Apple would go through with it, and for most of their consumers/ slaves (haha open source fan here sorry), it wouldn’t be a big turn off. They have been fairly successful in getting people to use Apple earbuds, chargers, etc. keeping it all proprietary. But those people reside in the “I bought it on release day” camp (not bashing at all). In no way would this be a real benefit as I see it – standards between platforms are awesome and I am always in favor of that.

  23. For those of us who use a) analog headphones and b) use the audio out port to plug our phone into a loudspeaker system, the lack of standard audio jack will kill the market. So, if the recording industry ever gets into manufacturing DRM protected live talk radio, fine. The industry has to figure out that sales are driven by features that benefit the consumer, not by archaic protection rackets that protect the 1%-er media moguls’ profit.

  24. Headphone jack got broken by cheap oversize chinese jacks, so i am buying chinese bluetooth audio board with amplifier. It will get the phone wireless, headphones louder (amplifier FTW!) and be an anchor to wind the cable around. And i can install huge oversize battery and combine it with powerbank.

  25. Well… when I look around me I’ve seen the vinyl records being replace by tape then by CD then by MP3 (then MP4 with crappy compression) and now the records are coming back. Now vinyl is become more and more popular… and I do not really know why?

    I’ve seen headphones the size of coconuts been replaced by the size of eggs and finally the size of earplugs. The last ones had great quality and did not make you look like an idiot. Now I see more and more “hipsters” running around with large headphones again, sold at ridiculous prices… and I do not really know why?

    Audio jacks have been there for as long as I remember, sure there size reduced but the basics stayed the same. I’ve cursed them, I loved them, they were the only thing in my technical life that remained a constant. Now that is about to change, but into what, well considering everything is going back to the beginning, then the new “hip” plug must be a banana plug ( ) you can’t go any more basic then that.

    There could even be a slogan in it, “apple goes bananas”.

  26. I don’t need a thinner cellphone. If anything, reinforce it a bit. Put in a bigger battery.
    Are folks really dying under the feather-light weight of the current cellphones? Because they seem to be doing fine with the tablets that they’re carrying around.

  27. I /might/ be able to resign myself to it if they also put in wireless charging (and they all use the same system). But I’m much MUCH rather they don’t “fix” a problem that doesn’t exist.

  28. Until the blurtooth standard can be called a wire and not yogurt, wireless is just worthless. Then they have their own battery. Some people that can’t live a wire have issues with it’s wet spaghetti strength and reliability. More chick appeal. Less manly strength.
    We have nothing but TouchTunes pukeboxes in town in every bar. One spot pays royalty and has two turntables and lotsa vinyl. But they often bend to playing their phones and quality suffers. I have hated such digital audio players of all sorts till now. I whip out my S5 and put on some vinyl you can carry in your pocket, not just flac but 24/96 as well as the legacy 16/44!
    The Doors never sounded as good. Another round!
    The issue with piracy is not dubbing thru the 3.5mm jack but weaseling in a industry-music-cop into your audio path! These will look for an increasing number of virus and tags added to music files and nark on your listening as well as cutting the cord or wireless.

  29. I don’t care if they have a jack or not, what I want is a “standard” and yes you can put the XKCD standards jokes in. However the ubiquity of the port is what has made it last this long, if the issue is about slimming down the phone ok, but honestly that just means your going to start having more “bend” failures and other sources of trouble, like how to provide the same capability. Having a “standard” is what brings value to that port. It just works. anything else has to be proven and at what cost for what benefit. Frankly I would like a magnetic coupled link so that way if you pull away, neither the device or wire are damaged. (apple mag-safe) They work and work very well, you could make your phone paper thin that way and just clip on your phone and other accessories.

    What I am saying is if a phone company really has an engineering issue that port is causing, it will be gone and they will offer something in its place or just leave it off.

    Not all phones have xyz widget, IR, stylus, replaceable battery, FM radio, NFC, Gyro, etc.. in the end its about compromise. As the comments in this section show, the mini is a desirable feature and many won’t compromise on its value. So if a phone vendor wants that market they had better have a product that addresses the issues and provide better value if they don’t want to use the mini.

    Dongles, DRM, DACs, etc they are all solutions to issues caused by changing the port out, and as anyone reading can see, they don’t see the value. $200+ to replace the same ability as the $.05 port. Hard sell in anyone’s book

  30. Its really quite simple. In order for Apple to take more control of the market and accessories, they will “develop” a set of headphones that runs through the USB or thunderbolt connector.

  31. Listening to music through a phone without a standard 1/8″ jack will rule out the use of most high fidelity studio headphones. Maybe if they package these phones with free cassette walkmans (walkmen?) we will be taking a step in the right direction. No ads, no interruptions, no drm, able to share with friends, better quality than bluetooth and most cheap earbuds provided decent headphones, and no way to log data on what you listen to or for how long. Talking about music listening here in case it was unclear.

  32. Technology moves on. The old and the outdated gets left behind and the new gets its day in the sun. However, the old Technology is generally relegated to history only after a worthy successor has stepped up. The floppy drive was dropped only after the optical drive became available, which was then surpassed by USB storage.

    And do not forget that the audio jack is not a peripheral in its own right, it is merely a connector to allow wide range of products from a variety of manufacturer to connect to the phone. When headphone manufacturers release most of their range to conform to a viable alternative to the audio jack that is standard across all mobile devices, and only then, will we see the headphone jack relegated to history.

  33. I use BT and wired connection all day. If iphone goes to wired only i will buy a different phone that has an earphone jack. My world view of Apple would change too. I use only Apple products for my business and personal – 13 devices. If Apple is no longer exclusive i will likely start considering buying other devices in the future. I hope not, but the stupid elimination of a small jack may lead to that.

  34. you will spend hundreds on an overpriced phone but you wont spend a few bucks on a pair of bluetooth headphones? lol.

    meanwhile my 5th gen ipod still works. its just a little full. maybe i should delete all that classical music that i dont listen to, and make room for more metal.

    1. BT headphones reduce audio quality sharply, and need constant recharging.

      Recharge your phone, your smartwatch, your headphone, your expensive MCU powered dongles, your this your that, just plug in all 18 device in the evening and in the morning you are good to go, easy. And it’ll last for up to 4 hours! Except for the new slimline model which need recharging every 2 hours..

    2. So if I understand correctly, you say that if the price of the phone is high enough it justifies the action of discarding a perfectly fine and widely accepted world wide connector standard for something that has no real benefits to the user? And if the user does want to use the widely accepted standard available to all good headphones, well then he/she has got to pay. Because well… you’ve paid for the crippled phone, well then you can pay more to make it work like you used to.

      It has nothing to do with quality, it has nothing to do with “the user experience”. It’s simply a matter of customer control, once you’ve bought the phone, you’ve got to buy more stuff to keep the phone running and they are the only ones who can make it/sell it. So you’re hooked or perhaps you could say commercially held hostage.

      You could exaggerate this a little and say that after a while these users will suffer from the Stockholm syndrome ( ) and will not admit that something went wrong with there decision in buying “this great product” and from then on they will only buy more of the stuff from the same manufacturer to confirm to themselves that they are using quality stuff.

      When does the hurting stops?

  35. First laptops with only one USB port, then smartphones without headphone jack, I think someone at apple has hit his head too hard and lost his sense.
    But what’s even worse if other companies mimicking the idea before apple even introduced it..

    Oh and the same happened with samsung and such removing SD card support (and getting rid of removable batteries), they mimic insane stuff that is consumer-unfriendly based on thinking ‘apple must know what they are doing’, even when they clearly don’t.

    1. +1 this comment.
      Seems like it as I cannot think of any reason why I’d want the latest Macbook.
      The irony is Microsoft added SD support and removable batteries to their Lumia line.
      I never thought I’d see the day MS did something better then Apple but they did and by a good margin.

  36. I don’t think that built-in DACs will be good enoguht or better than the analog output of the current smartphones. If you are an audiophile you probably already have an external DAC connected to your phone.
    I think it’s just market move to sell something “new”, the old “you didn’t knew you need this before”

  37. I’m all for compatibility. Being able to use the same cable to connect almost any audio source to almost any audio output is amazing. So I’d prefer the audio jack stay around. That being said, if the 1/8 inch jack is deprecated in favor of something like usb-c, I’m OK with that as long as there are real benefits, and all manufacturers agree on a standard. BT is nice in theory but as someone else said, the last thing I need is one more device to charge. Now if I only had to charge my headphones once a week or less that’d be OK too.

    1. My Bluetooth headphones cost about 12 quid, 5 or 6 years ago. Nice sound quality, I can’t tell the difference. They have controls for volume, prev / next, and play / pause. As well as last-number redial, hangup, answer (all the same button as play / pause).

      I don’t even charge them once a week, using them an hour or two a day. The battery life still hasn’t diminished. They’re great! I could dig up a pair on Ebay as a link if you wanted, but my point is dirt-cheap Bluetooth headphones can be great. I’ve seen other people with the same pair, even if a different brand-name printed on. They’ve liked them too.

      They work seamlessly for music and calls, interrupting your music then going right back automatically. Etc. Cheap, available from your nearest purveyor of mass-produced Chinese electronics. Give some a try, 12 quid you can’t go wrong.

      Somebody else mentioned hifi linking. You can also get (as I did in case the headphones didn’t work well) a Bluetooth receiver thingy, also rechargable, that has a jack plug as it’s output, for any inputs you might like to connect to. Works fine driving ordinary headphones too.

      Really, can’t say enough about cheap Bluetooth headphones, they’re great! Here….

      These ones.

      1. Thanks, I’ve not tried BT headphones recently so was not aware they are that good/cheap. I’ve already got a nice corded set from v-moda. And my car doesn’t have BT, but does have audio in jack. Same with home stereo. However, I do plan to one day hack BT into all of the above, and only then would I consider buying a phone w/o audio jack.

        If only it were possible to power a BT adapter from an 1/8″ audio port, that would make the transition phase much less cumbersome.

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