Bringing Back the iPhone7 Headphone Jack

Plenty of people bemoaned Apple’s choice to drop the 1/8″ headphone jack from the iPhone 7. [Scotty Allen] wasn’t happy about it either, but he decided to do something about it: he designed a custom flex circuit and brought the jack back. If you don’t recognize [Scotty], he’s the same guy who built an iPhone 6 from parts obtained in Shenzhen markets. Those same markets were now used to design, and prototype an entirely new circuit.

The iPhone 7 features a barometric vent, which sits exactly where the headphone jack lived in the iPhone 6. The vent helps the barometric pressure sensor obtain an accurate reading while keeping the phone water proof. [Scotty] wasn’t worried about waterproofing, as he was cutting a hole through the case. The vent was out, replaced with a carefully modified headphone jack.

The next step was convincing the phone to play analog signals. For this, [Scotty] used parts from Apple’s own headphone adapter. The hard part was making all of this work and keeping the lightning port available. The key was a digital switch chip. Here’s how the circuit works:

When no headphone is plugged in, data is routed from the iPhone’s main board to the lightning port. When headphones are plugged in, the data lines are switched to the headphone adapter. Unfortunately, this means the phone can’t play music and charge at the same time — that is something for version 2.0.

The real journey in this video is watching [Scotty] work to fit all these parts inside an iPhone case. The design moved from a breadboard through several iterations of prototype printed circuit boards. The final product is built using a flexible PCB – the amber-colored Kapton and copper sandwiches that can be found in every mobile device these days.

Making everything fit wasn’t easy. Two iPhone screens perished in the process. But ultimately, [Scotty] was successful. He’s open sourced his design so the world can build and improve on it.

Want to read more about the iPhone 7 and headphone jacks? Check out this point and counterpoint.  we published on the topic.

96 thoughts on “Bringing Back the iPhone7 Headphone Jack

  1. I have just seen his video. I thought it will be done in a shitty way. But man. This guy did an amazing job. Just amazing job. Just go ahead and watch it, even if partly.

  2. It’s almost like there was always enough room for a headphone jack, its almost like Apple wanted to sell pricy adapters they know people would loose, its almost like it was timed with the release of the airpods to sell more of them, its almost like Apple cares very little about the customer when money is to be made
    Eh, I’m paranoid

        1. Bluetooth headphones are cheap as dirt, work fine, sound good, batteries last for ages. I charge mine maybe once a fortnight and use it for maybe an hour a day. China knocks out millions for not much money.

          3.5mm jack plugs wear out, right where the wire goes in. They’re clumsy, a pain in the arse to run to your ears. We don’t need headphone jacks any more! Obsolete, and good bleedin’ riddance!

          If you really want one, you can get little boxes with a headphone jack on, a rechargable battery inside, and a Bluetooth receiver. About 7 quid. There’s your headphone jack, in a box the size of a lighter.

          Fuck Apple, just in general. But really, you people are losing out! Headphone ports suck! If it were only Apple who made Bluetooth headphones, you’d have a complaint, but it’s not.

          1. Uhm, I thought those Apple fancy headphones used a propriety system to avoid the poor quality of and other issues with BT, didn’t they?

            Because you’ll always are working with compression with BT, and the fancy compression algorithms are all patented and costly.

          2. F#$% blurtooth. Don’t talk to me on the phone with one of those “babelfish” stuck in your ear with it’s mic inches away on the side of your head. Hold the phone’s mic near mouth, always. Current phones are wider bandwidth from the mic and to ear than blurtooth standards allowed. Don’t listen to or expose others to blurtooth “stereo” sound. It’s like 8-track sound. Our phones are very good at doing sound right. Blurtooth is dated and the latest 5.0 takes up a whole WiFi channel. There aint enough channels to go around. With a dozen people using ear jammers the band is jammed, happens on buses etc. You must use a lot bandwidth to do that final yard/meter just to get to your head.

          3. I just wish I could find a set of good earbuds that would last as long as a cheap pair of bluetooth buds. I tore up my first pair, getting them sat upon and found they weren’t very well made anyway, but the second pair I got for $5 on Amazon – same chip, different form factor – has been perfectly viable for months longer than any earbuds I’ve ever owned. The strain relief on the cord is rarely good enough to last when jammed in a pocket or occasionally yanked from your ears when caught on an elbow or something.

          4. Bluetooth introduces pointless extra steps. Gotta make sure your headphones are charged, gotta make sure bluetooth is turned on, gotta turn the headphones on, wait for them to pair, make sure they’ve paired before starting your media, then make sure you plug your headphones back in to recharge.

            I use a bluetooth receiver with headphones every day so I can keep my phone out of danger at work and I still think wired is far, far superior.

          5. @andarb: There’s your problem. Expecting quality from $5 buds. I bought a $70 set and they lasted many years, even after a kid (2yo) decided it would be good to chew on them (and holy crap, did he CHEW on them). They stopped working for a bit, then came back to life for another 18 months!
            Needless to say I bought another pair, and they’ve been dealing with almost as much thrashing as the old ones, and loving it.

          6. There are hundreds if not thousands real technical problems out there waiting to be solved. There is absolutely NO REASON to provide solution to the problem that does not exist (and completely and unnecessary forces people to pollute RF spectrum and waste power – yes do the math … we are unnecessary burning metric tons of coal / month in order to have this ‘wonderful’ solution pushed on the customers).

          7. Yeah that would work if you hardly use your heaphones.

            1 houer of music per day is redicules. Tried using Bluetooth but needed to charge all the time

          8. This. As Fred says below, you get what you pay for. I got stung by Windows 10’s loudness nags which can’t be turned off even when you are using speakers or high-impedance headphones that really aren’t too loud. So I finally bought a nice pair of bluetooth headphones, since I use a tablet for most of my work that has bluetooth anyway. The batteries last 15 hours, the sound is fine, and I don’t have to worry about rolling over the cable with my chair or jerking it out of the jack any more. I can even go to the fridge and get another beer without taking them off. Never going back.

          9. > Headphone ports suck!
            Except they do not. Ever heard sound interrupting when you use bluetooth headphones – right, this is your phone searching for wifi.
            I see headphone port as a one more possibility – after all it is cheap, it is another *simple* interface, and it does not add bulk to the phone.
            Yes, I use bluetooth, but when my bluetooth headset battery dies – I unplug headphones from it and plug them directly into phone. Problem solved.

        2. if you want to make everyone use bluetooth then make it the only way to connect to the internet and sync content.

          have itunes be the center hub of everything iphone by being the ethernet or wifi to bluetooth converter (ip over bluetooth).

          apple if you are afraid that users would use the earphone out to strip drm by recording the iphone to sound editor via analog hole(s) then why not then remove the ability to burn cds of audiobooks from itunes and the ability to add itunes purchases to quicktime movies and export them.

          or use proprietary earphones to detect if the content is allowed to play like you do with movie rentals on devices that dont have hdmi and hdcp protection.

          so you can only play protected content through apple’s earphones.

          if you are trying to get a cleaner sleeker look then why not bring back the bending that plagued the iphone 6 or bring back the fiery iphones that plagued the iphone 6

          i will just learn to not put it in my pocket (bending problem solved)

          if i notice my iphone getting hotter than normal and starting to swell and separate the front from back i will immediately throw it on the ground and step away to let it burn out.

          1. i did have a nokia lumia, the thing fell apart, screen stopped working out of the box and had to RMA, the back cracked, the screen cracked, and the really nice camera stopped focusing after a couple of months
            needless to say i was not impressed so i got my self an S5 … still have it, no case, taken tons of abuse, a battery and back swap later its still running great

      1. Different companies are on different points of the scale. I think Apple is on the very end of the scale, at the”very evil” point regarding customer care vs. extracting the maximum amount of money out of every customer. But unfortunately for some customers Apple is like a religion.

  3. I don’t usually comment but the quality of strange parts videos are amazing and his videos are entertaining. More people should use this format, long videos detailing the failures as well. Gotta say, I like him more than Ben Heck at the moment.

    1. I could do with -BUY YOUR ELECTRIC CRAP AT- excuse me, I could do -SHITOCORP, FOR ELECTR- pardon me, I could -SPONSORED BY WANK-O-TECH- do without the ADVERTS on Ben Heck’s -BUY OUR SHIT!- videos.

    2. Good videos can be a good thing – but the fastest, most efficient way to communicate is almost always text + pictures. How* does one browse a video for finding a certain segment? How can one skip the parts that isn’t interesting without skipping some part that may be vital? With text that is trivial.

      (* yes it’s possible. Not using online video streaming though – and most people doesn’t have a good video editing software or a good jog controller)

  4. I can’t keep wondering, though possible wrong, but I find it hard to believe that there’s no analog audio anywhere in the phone. The amp feeding the speaker get its signal from somewhere so there must be a DAC pin for speaker and possible also another one next to it for stereo?

    1. I think it would be more complicated, he would still have to switch between speaker and the headphones and probably lose the sound quality because the signal from the DAC is not optimised for the headphones. Also the phone would not be aware of the headphones being plugged so the controls and microphone would not work and also it would be impossible to use the headphones for calling

      1. Ooops. For moderators, I messed up and reported this comment by accident.

        Anyways. I think that what [Tore Lund] had in mind is the DAC chip may have dedicated headphones output, with all the requisite pins, proper drive and plug detection. That it may be the very same chip as in the 6S or other phones.
        This makes sense because, until the iPhone 7, no smartphone shipped without a jack. I don’t see any reason for a smartphone DAC manufacturer to have a part without headphones out.

        1. DAC for the headphones is in the headphones themself so the phone outputs digital audio to the headphones. Even if there was separate unused headphone output on the DAC that it is inside of the phone it is probably not handled in the software so the controls on the headphones and taking calls would not work.

          1. fun fact – those controls are just audio pulses over the mic line. even if you hack in your own jack – it should work just fine (unless the software daemon used to catch those pulses doesnt ‘listen’ unless headphones are plugged in – but its just software). source? i’ve built devices used to automate camera triggers on iOS. also…you can take apart a selfie stick or something if you want some pre-made components to handle this for you. wouldnt it be interesting if you could broadcast these tones in a public space and mass control audio on iOS devices? 🤔

  5. What he said at the end of his video were he says that he hopes one day that we will own our devices.
    Keep dreaming it will never happen. Sorry..
    Thank you for your time that you put into these videos you made. I think you did a great job.

    1. An Android and a custom OS is pretty close to owning. The phone communications side is best kept away from our filthy little hands, since the infrastructure of most countries relies on 4G / 3G / GSM equipment all working properly.

        1. Well, it is a communications device. And debugging your own solution would either involve messing with a national network, and getting into trouble VERY quickly, or setting up your own 4G cell in a biscuit tin. And then you’d have to debug both ways which I think technically would be impossible to prove both ends at once without outside access.

          Still there’s 3G modules you can access like a modem, over a serial line. Has 4G arrived in those yet? But if you’re really bothered about your sekrit planz, probably best to keep them on some other device, that’s not intended to be part of someone else’s network all day long.

  6. Pointless completely pointless. Don’t know why people make a big thing about this. In the end they will all go this way and most people use Bluetooth now and you get the lead to use normal headphones still. So you do this hack and then your phone is not water proof no more and also you could damage it by doing this hack. We are in a digital age now so more forward. I think it’s the biggest crap hack I seen.

    1. You do realize that this is the whole point of this site? We make things do what they weren’t intended to because we want to, not because we see any ‘bigger goal’ or any of that. Everyone has a hobby, and this is ours. Go shit on someone else’s rug.

    2. That won’t be the end. There will be a constant line of new bluetooth formats every few years to ensure that you replace all of your audio devices. This will go on until all the resources needed to make iCrap are burried in landfills or all the people’s money is in Apple’s pocket. It will be whichever comes first.

      What I don’t understand is why people keep playing into it by buying Apple. Just switch to Android already! No.. that doesn’t solve the problem. Android seems to be on the same path but it is slower in getting there!

      1. How long’s Bluetooth been about now? Getting on 23 years. And each new spec is backward compatible. So we’re probably fine.

        People buy Apple because it’s fashionable, and because buying a 700 quid phone tells people “Look at me! I have 700 quid to spend on phones!”. Except people on benefits own them, 50 quid down and then a horrible 4-year contract gets one in your hand, obsolete though it is 6 months down the line. So it’s not really the status symbol people think it is, it’s a bit of a con. But that’s fashion for you.

        1. No, not really. There are at least two bluetooth stereo headset protocols, I have one headset that works with my oldest phones and one that works with my newer ones. I would have been happy to keep using the old headset if the newer phones would let me.

          Then there’s the reverse, getting a newer accessory to work with an older phone. I had to get a newer phone to get my first generation tile to work because of BLE. Then it died and I got a new tile. Hmm.. guess what.. will not sync with my phone. I haven’t confirmed it yet but I bet they are using some newer bluetooth profile that is going to require me to buy an even newer phone!

          How about bluetooth serial profile? Little easy to use bluetooth serial modules are a dime a dozen on the internet and make it super easy to remotely control your device with an Android smartphone. Apple never supported it but instead they support some sort of newer profile through BLE that is more complicated to use and 3 or 4 times as expensive.

          So.. no.. bluetooth is not some great universal, backwards compatible thing that will allow you to keep using the same accessories for life.

      2. Hackaday really needs karma gold. me’s comment exposes the absurd business model Apple has pursued for years: Blatantly disregard well proven highly evolved agreed on electronic standards if we can make something proprietary, expensive and of worse quality both in regards to sound and reliability, as marketing is everything. Steve Jobs was an all talk sociopath and his spirit lives on. Once Nokia and Ericsson also made hyped phones with very little evolution between models and presumed design and brand loyalty was more important than utility. One day the majority of Apple product owners will wake up and realise that they have been groomed into slavery and yesterday’s revelation will end as mountains of white trash at the shores of Chinese rivers.

    3. You might consider appreciating his skill and the time he took to put the video together. While you may or may not appreciate the specific mod being discussed, don’t throw the baby out with the wash water. Why don’t you post a nice video showcasing your skills?

    4. It’s somewhat pointless, because fortunately nobody is forced to buy Apple devices. You can also avoid crappy Android devices where the manufacturer decided to omit important parts, e.g. headphone jack or microSD card slot or where you can’t change the battery if it is empty or worn out.
      I also like the IR emitter on my Galaxy S5 very much, it was already really helpful sometimes.

      1. Fun thing, I have An S6 Edge, no microSD slot, battery is “not user replaceable”, have had the opportunity twice to replace it myself, so an inability to change parts out is partially based on the lack of willingness of the owner to try to change the parts themselves, or to pay someone to try to change the parts for them. There are some things that get into the “effectively impossible” range towards swapping parts, like taking the processor and upgrading it, but it may just be that I’m willing to accept I am not at the skill level to even consider attempting something so crazy(crazy to me, fun to someone else).

  7. Well done video, but a couple of things kinda annoyed me about it.

    He seems a bit overdramatic. Okay we get it, you had issues with things breaking. That happens to all of us. We don’t nearly cry on camera when explaining things though.

    Also when he mentions that he’d be glad to help out Apple if they want to bring the headphone jack back. Does he think they don’t have the ability to do that now? What makes him think that they would even think of hiring him to “help” with it?

    Other than that, I was really impressed that he actually got it to work and it wasn’t a clickbaity BS video. Making a flex PCB and hand-soldering the little BGA components was really cool. I didn’t even know that flex PCB’s were even something available in small quantities like that to consumers.

  8. From what I can gather from the article, this adds no functionality that can’t be added with a commercially available plug-in adapter, and does a lot of bad. I must ask then: is there any benefit to this mod at all, or is it just for the Youtube views?

        1. This is not the solution. He wants to be able to plug any headphones with the standard jack to his phone and to plug his home stereo. Also he wants to plug his headphones to his computer after using them on his phone. I do this things all the time and I would be frustrated if I had to carry/plug/unplug some adapters all the time. That’s why I use Android :)

  9. An easier fix, of course, is to grow up and get a real phone. Save thousands and have a headphone jack. Cool to be within walking distance of all that repair equipment porn though.

  10. Apple is not a fashion statement to say look at me. People do talk crap at times. Fed up with android fan boys. You could say that with Samsung etc. Plus for what you doing on this site? Well I’m on this site to see some good hacks not people who put a pointless headphone jack on a product that makes it worst in the end. The point of hacking is to improve something not make it worst plus you are talking about an old anolog jack when it’s already got a digital output which is fine. We are talking about a phone not the best for sound. Could understand it more if we was talking about top of the range hifi.

    1. Our ears still work analog. And it is very good to not have active, power consuming electronics in the headphone. So a digital output for the headphone is not “fine” it’s nearly useless for it’s intended purpose, useless without a clumsy adapter.

      Bringing back the jack IS an improvement, but probably not worth the effort, as Apple IS mostly a fashion statement and I can buy another – better – phone from the beginning on.

    2. “Fed up with android fan boys. ”

      No, Android sucks. It just that there isn’t anything better out there and Apple sucks 1000 times more.

      Price – Apple charges twice as much or more for similar hardware

      Openness – Apple locks the user in to their marketplace. Android allows sideloading

      Development – Android’s development environment works on Windows, Mac, Linux (maybe Unix too?) Testing may be done on free emulators or by plugging in a device, all for free. Apple requires a Mac running recent version of OSX. Testing on an actual device (as opposed to an emulator) requires at minimum a $100/year developer’s account.

      Distribution – Android apps may be distributed through the Google Play marketplace following a relatively easy acceptance process. Apps may also be distributed through third party marketplaces such as Amazon’s or the free/open source serving F-Droid. Android apps may also be distributed by simply sharing the apk file such as through a link on a website and then installed via side-loading. Apple apps only may be distributed through Apple’s marketplace after going through a long waiting period. During this process Apple employees tend to be assholes to the developer attempting to submit their product. This also requires that $100/year account mentioned earlier.

      Convergence – Android devices may be synced to bluetooth keyboards AND MICE. they may also be connected to USB ones. Some android devices even have hdmi out although sadly this is becoming more rare. Even without hdmi the view may be displayed on a larger screen through various wireless methods. This allows an android device to pretty much serve as a desktop. Apple devices may be synced to a bluetooth keyboard however they do NOT support mice. This makes some applications, such as portable access to a remote desktop very painful on an Apple device.

      Maker – Most Android devices support bluetooth serial profile. This allows a maker to use the thousands of super cheap, and super simple to use bluetooth serial adapters that are available all over the internet. It is very easy for a maker to create a project that talks wirelessly to an Android phone. Apple instead requires either the more expensive and much more complicated to use BLE solutions or a battery sucking wifi solution. Also, the headphone jack, the feature whose removal by Apple prompted this article can be useful to a maker as both an A/D and a D/A converter. It allows a phone to serve as a soundmodem, a function generator or even an audio bandwidth oscilloscope. This will never work as well via Bluetooth due to it’s compression.

      So, no, it’s not that people are fanboys. Fanboys are people who have strong opinions without a basis for those opinions. The real problem is that Apple has nothing going for it. It is in every way inferior and yet it still has a ton of commercial momentum. Meanwhile Android handset makers see Apple’s commercial success and try to emulate it, killing off good features from Android devices such as removable batteries, slide out physical qwerty keyboards, and HDMI sockets. If Apple doesn’t die then what will we lose next? Probably our headphone jacks.

  11. Blue tooth audio quality isn’t at the point where a jack is at, and battery life on blue tooth audio is the main problem, I’d be all for it if only they made batteries that could last forever, also it drains your phone battery quicker also.

    1. BT low power helps the phone side of battery life but audio suffers and you get security issues with BT.
      Apple Lets make a fancy biometric sensor but encourage bad security practices with our products besides fingerprint sensors are actually pretty easy to fool.
      Maybe this is a good thing wand why I say just watch what Simon does in the movie in Demolition man.

  12. While I commend all the effort and work that went into this (always love when people overengineer a solution to something so small), I can’t help but find all of this useless since there is still no way to use the headphone while using the lighting port to charge. The headphone adapter that come with the phone is really small and barely add 2 cm to your headphone cable and only see disadvantage to this mod since it basicly destroy the waterproof capability of the phone and only remove the need for the small adapter in exchange.

    1. Thank you I’m glad someone see this point. Your so right what’s the point in damaging the waterproof on it for a jack which you said come with a little lead that makes it still easy to use jack headphone.Sorry people I call it a pointless hack and all phones will go this way in the end.

      1. It is an awesome feat tho. After seeing this guy last project of assembling a full iphone from part sourced in schenzen, I get the feeling he’s more the kind of person who do stuff to challenge himself more than for usefulness, which is totally ok by me. He might have been better to wait for the iphone 8 though before going through the trouble. A custom case with headphone might have been more worthwhile imo.

  13. That’s an expensive proof that Apple is just collecting money. The hack is great, because it gave the guy some experience about technologies, he would never get if just try to make something for himself without any space limits or restrictions.

    But even with the learning experience, it’s a total waste of time and money. 17+ weeks and more than 2000 usd material on a so tiny little project. I understand that this is just hobby, but this project is like a sort of sand mandala.

    Anyway I don’t think Apple ever bring back the jack (ok maybe I’m wrong about this, Apple lied so many times about technologies, or what they never going to make (x86 Mac, stylus)). They make much more money with selling you basic features separated from the product.

    I’m just wondering:
    Some big fancy corporation (just call it Bpple) would sell you an alphabet book in 26 separate books, and you could get from letter to letter only if you bought the same version of the books, and put together. Everybody else selling just one alphabet book with all of the letters in it. Bpple would charge the same (or a little more) for a one letter book, than others for the 26 letter alphabet book. How cool would be some smart guy making a video about putting together the separate letter books in just one book (like everybody else doing), and wasting 4+ month and lot of money at printing-houses.

    1. I disagree – it is not a waste of time and money. It’s not even about learning. It’s about enjoyment.

      Most won’t think twice to buy a lavish entertainment system to watch movies. A petrolhead may spend thousands on pistons & mod chips and put in even more hours – because he likes the smell of burning rubber. A model airplane builder takes the risk every flight of smashing his plane built from pricey parts into the ground – because he likes the thrill.

      I would say his expenditure is far more worthy than these other things, and that is not because they aren’t worthwhile. It’s because I’m not into movies, cars or model planes.

      But I agree – apple knows how to milk the sheep.

    2. Apple owns the Beats brand so it’s natural for them to try and get people to buy them.
      Oh your old head phones don’t work with your new phone don’t worry we have you covered and can sell you a set made for your phone for the low low price of $349.

  14. Apple, Sony, whatever walled ‘only mine’ garden you like; not like they are making real(ok mostly) GNU Linux phones like the N900 anymore which are sweet and easy to hack with massive DIY script app support.
    Anyways I would just like a replacement for my Sony MDR-E0921 earbuds, they were one of the few short cord buds which had both good sound and cables which lasted over a year in everyday use, I even had a few pair full length ones which I am slowly working my way up the cable on as I have sometimes tipped the plug off the cable when using with a laptop.

    1. GNU Linux? Really, you think the userland (that isn’t used much in a phone) is more important to the actual kernel and drivers that do things? If you must have GNU in there somewhere put it in the back – in order of importance.

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