Smart Watch Hack Lets You Use Your 3.5mm Headphones With An IPhone 7

As you may have heard, the iPhone 7 is ditching the 3.5 mm headphone jack in the name of progress and courage. Whatever your take on that, it leaves the end user out in the cold if — for instance — their preferred headphones still use the old format. Here to save you from an untimely upgrade is YouTuber [Kedar Nimbalkar], who has modified a Bluetooth Smartwatch to incorporate a 3.5 mm jack to allow continued use your current headphones.

After opening up the smartwatch [Nimbalkar] removes the speaker, solders in a 3.5 mm headphone jack and clips out an opening in the watch’s case that maintains the watch’s sleek exterior.

This mod is a bit of a catch-22 — losing out on hearing any notifications from your phone unless your headphones are plugged in and in your ears, and you only get mono audio output using this method; some tinkering with the software might alleviate this issue. However practical this may be for you, workarounds like this one remind us that we can still achieve the functionality we want though innovative expertise. Challenge yourself!

If you want some even older-school audio output from your smart watch, 3D print a gramophone docking station.

54 thoughts on “Smart Watch Hack Lets You Use Your 3.5mm Headphones With An IPhone 7

    1. Because that’s what they want you to do, so there’s probably some secret evil plan behind it. :-D

      Though I’m sure I’ve seen cheapy “smart” watches with headphone jacks, so maybe mod not necessary if you’re willing to prowl aliexpress with all of $30 clenched in your sweaty fist.

      1. I suspect that’s not a huge deal, but time will tell. I might get a charging adapter for road trips. Or I might even have a Bluetooth head unit by then. I don’t run out of charge during the day except during road trips when I don’t have a charger along, maps can suck a battery dry.

      2. Well if I replace the android I use in the vehicle with an iPhail it would matter, since I have that hooked up to a jack input for tunes and like to keep it topped up with a car adapter so it’s not dead when I get there. However, the other car (The one that isn’t a Porsche, I was talking about the one that isn’t a Ferrari) has BT audio so no worries, if I did, but I won’t.

      3. The supplied headphone adapter may not allow charging, but I can guarantee other vendors will release a product that looks like a Y-cable. Essentially it’s a male to female lightening cable and a headphone jack coupled to it.

        Ditching the headphone jack on smartphones was inevitable. Many people may still use them, but it’s an additional opening exposed to moisture and brings design challenges. There are thousands of different bluetooth headphones out there, and they all work more or less the same. I am certainly not an audiophile but bluetooth streamed music sounds about as good as the wired connection. The only drawback is the latency. I’m not an apple fanboy of any sorts, either. I haven’t owned an iPhone for at least four years. This is just one of those things that became deprecated as technology has moved forward. Do you see anyone bitching about laptops or computers that don’t come with optical disk readers? filament bulbs? CRT televisions? I wouldn’t dare call it courage to change an industry standard, it’s just progress. People who don’t want to progress can change the standard by refusing to adopt. You make up the majority that could change how Apple goes forward. Look at HD-DVD. It competed with Blu-Ray, and Microsoft pushed hard to get HD-DVD as the standard. Many big movie production houses backed it. Consumers said no though, and they decided Blu-Ray was better.

        tl;dr: Changing the course of technological consumer history isn’t up to the vendors, it’s up to the adopters. Some things are just obviously ready to retire.

        1. Let’s pause to reflect a moment on all those industry standards that Apple have ever set, like the 8 pin DIN serial connector, the 64 Pin SIMM, the HDI 30 SCSI connector, the PowerPC CPU, and now ladies and gentlemen, the lightning connector, the new “industry” standard. The Jobs reality distortion field still applies of course, all references to industry in relation to Cupertino should be assumed to mean the alternate universe of the Apple ecosystem, such as “Industry leading” etc, Translation, we’re the apple-iest apple manufacture in the whole of appledom.

        2. Worse sound quality, worse latency, less efficient, less compatible. What is gained? If one wanted to use Bluetooth headphones one could! It isn’t an improvement in any way, just something worse. So your comparison to CRT and optical disc readers is extremely stupid…

          The headphone jack could be shrunk, it could be incorporated in the frame too to further reduce the effective size. There are no problem in making the headphone jack water resistant or water proof (in fact there are already such jacks available – some in other manufacturers smart phone!).

          So in short removing the headphone port adds nothing, removes a standard port _that_is_as_hightech_as_anything_for_driving_audio_transducers_, is less efficient and saves nothing. Good job on being an idiot.

        3. When I next buy a laptop, an optical disc reader is one of my must have features. Filament bulbs and CRT televisions were both replaced with devices that require no adaption to use.

          I don’t see the headphone jack as a device that is ready to retire. Blue Tooth headsets require you to have a second battery that needs to be charged, and have a bigger environmental impact than headphones, and the Lightning Connector adapter requires you to carry around an extra cable that will get tangled, broken or lost.

    2. I think the point is people see it as a cash grab from apple. I mean they remove the Jack at the same time as releasing their wireless ear pods. Headphone companies will have to licence Apple MFI certification if they want their products to sell. The lightning port converts analog to digital and could be used as a DRM “firewall” in the future too.

      1. But they
        1) provide you with Lightning phones
        2) provide you with the above mentioned adaptor
        these two free in the box
        3) support standard Bluetooth audio
        4) don’t DRM their audio (so you can copy it anyway) and went out of their way to talk the record companies out of insisting on DRM

        The only thing the W1 chip does for them is simplify pairing.

        Where’s the beef?

        1. Bluetooth audio while it is getting better sucks, Yes apple are DRM free at the moment but I would hate for one company to have all that power to wield at a whim. Apple has a tendency to corner the market and make things expensive. I mean look at their appstore how much control they have over devs. I don’t trust Apple fully as a company and that is where my main concerns lie.

        2. 1) prevent you from using your current headphones without a stupid adaptor
          2) are notorious for the chips they stick in lightning cables abs other accessories to prevent “clones” (also known as “loss of tax free profit)

          Apple are scum.

        3. Simple.
          Why make a thinner iPhone and then make me add a dongle to use my headphones? How can I charge and use my head phones at the same time? Why use the “lightning” cable at all? Why not use USB 3.1?
          Does the lightning cable offer faster charging? Does the lightning cable offer higher data transfer speeds?
          I know lightning ports are more than USB ports? Or the cables are cheaper.
          So why remove the headphone jack? The only logical reason I can see is to make money from every pair of headphones sold for the iPhone.
          We could also go into the entire form over function issue at Apple like with the ApplePro that is now lagging in both CPU and GPU power in the workstation class. And how even years after it was release the idea of hanging external GPUs off of machines using Thunderbolt has not really caught on. Or even how dumb it is build a super small workstation and the depend on external wired devices for mass storage and even GPUs. You end up with a device that resembles an Commodore 64 with a bunch of 1541s, and a printer hooked up to it not to mention the need to buy adaptors so you can use an industry standard interface like the old printer adaptors for the C64 for the iPhon…
          Hey Apple has take it’s design esthetic from Commodore.

      1. Agreed. That said, this seems to be the apple strategy for some time now. When I was in school, we were always trying to find the correct dongle so we could attach the apple laptops to the projection system… because the standard monitor outputs had been discarded.

    1. You know you can buy A2DP widgets that are functionally exactly that, for about the price of a pair of ear buds? I use them all the time on my phone (which does have a 3.5mm jack, of course), just because having my phone wired to my ears is a royal pain.

      My main beef with most of them is that they have exactly the same battery life as a cheap pair of BT earbuds (2-3 hours, depending on volume), and most of them can’t be used while charging, so you can’t even leave them connected to a power bank if you need them to last all day.

      I’ve ended up with an Elecom LBT-PAR500 — it’s a little expensive compared to butchering a pair of earbuds, but it lasts all day, works while charging, and has nice touches like an actual physical power switch. I’m sure there’s another cheaper answer that would serve, but I’d already burnt way over $50 on a succession of cheap A2DP dongles with one disappointing fault or another, and I’m completely happy with this one.

  1. Setting the table HACK lets you have breakfast in the morning. How low can you HACK? Often, I think, it can’t get any worse and then HaD surprises me again and again. Is this some challenge? Is the other challenge about the most misleading title still running?

    1. But you get that this is a hardware modification, right? This is not a smartwatch with a headphone jack, operating as intended — rather, the smartwatch had only an integrated speaker. Replacing the builtin speaker of $DEVICE with a headphone jack isn’t a difficult hack, but in my book it is a hack.

      1. …but then, want is hack?
        I think, I used to know what a hack was. But it seems I do not know any longer, what a hack is nowadays. Is every modification a hack? No other criteria? Software hack? Just call it a hack and it is a hack? I modified the usage of my working bench to be a breakfast table. Is it a hack now? And when I drill a hole in the middle of my 3000USD table out of very very old wood to add a USB-powered battery charger, is this a hack?

    1. The sad thing is there are enough die hard apple fans who buy regardless/swear this is what they’ve been waiting for. Then Samsung get flack from apple fanbois and they decide the sensible thing is to drop audio jacks as well.

      At least that’s what happened with using “premium” materials in phones. Personally I liked having a back I can rip off and batteries I can replace without needing a screwdriver and 30minutes to tear apart. I really am starting to get old :-)

      1. I already said it once above, but to add an interesting twist on things…if the majority agrees to adopt a new standard way of doing things, you are either in the crowd or in the dark. It probably could also mean it’s showing your age, as refusal to change comes with practice. I mean no offense to you, it’s just a little thing I learned about myself.

        1. None taken :-) In the end I’ll upgrade by necessity or some killer feature will draw me in. When the time comes I’ll grumble for a bit and accept it and then likely forget why I was grumbling.

          Do you really feel its an agreement to adopt something if theres no alternative provided by the manufacturer (assuming you mean the consumer here)? Yes I could buy a lower spec phone which otherwise meets my needs, but that’s not really a solution. What I’m just pointing out is the undue influence of a vocal minority. Apple “fanbois” for insisting everything that comes out of Cupertino is somehow the correct way and Android “fanbois” who stop at nothing to put then down and thus invite retaliation.

        2. You mean like how the “majority” decided to adopt the proprietary Mac instead of the more open x86 PC? Want to make any bets on this “lightning” connector still being around 10 years from now? I’ll bet that 10 years from now there will still be devices using 3.5mm audio jacks and there will still be headphones and speakers that can be plugged into those devices.

    1. My problem with the adapter “solution” beyond what others have said (extra thing to lose, can’t charge & listen, etc..) is the added bulk of a fairly fragile connector in my pocket. I’ve already broken a few of the lightning connectors over the years through daily use, and I don’t see it standing up to getting shoved in a pocket or bag repeatedly.
      The right angle 1/8″ jack on my Shure headphone, on the other hand, sits snug to the phone, and is quite sturdy.

  2. It’s really hard to tell just how bad people perceive sound nowadays, Take most anything in the last 20 to 30 years, m-pee on it, transmit it with blurtooth, and into one tinny earpiece. Whew.
    Having an high end sports car with not even ford or chevy sound just because of that…ugh…wire. My S5 will play high def flac 24/96 thru it’s jack in any car, home system or even the PA at a street fair.
    Wana go for a ride. Blurtooth is left in the dust.

  3. The lack of a headphone jack on the iPhone 7 is a deal breaker. I opted for the Apple SE which looks identical to the Apple 5S but has iPhone 6 technology. IMHO, it is a far better phone than the flawed iPhone 7. My phone will always have a 3.5 mm headphone jack. A dongle is not an option. I’m hoping the iPhone 8 will fix the defects of the iPhone 7. If not, bye bye Apple.

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