Apple Faces Criticism Over iPhone 7 Headphone Jack Removal

Last Edited: September 12, 2016 | Published: September 14, 2016 by

Apple Faces Criticism Over iPhone 7 Headphone Jack Removal

Many predicted that Apple would lose the headphone jack when it released the iPhone 7, but until it became a reality, no one really said too much about it. Now, it seems, the company is having to justify its decision, and with good reason.

So what was the big reason to get rid of the headphone jack? According to Apple executive Phil Schiller, it was “courage.” “It comes down to one word,” Schiller said. “Courage. “The courage to move on and do something better for all of us.” What?

Apple is no stranger to abandoning technology, but they almost always have a reason. When the company abandoned FireWire and the optical disc drive, they had sound technological reasons or business reasons for the decision. However, the only reason anyone can figure out with this one is because they can.

Take a look at the transcript of Schiller below:

First, we’ve shown that we can use lightning for our in-box headphones and to adapt all of our older devices through analog interfaces. And it is a great connector for doing that.

But second, and this is really important. Our smartphones are packed with technologies and we all want more. We want bigger brighter displays, larger batteries, stereo speakers, faster processors, we want taptic engines and it’s all fighting for space within that same enclosure. And maintaining an ancient single-purpose, analog big connector doesn’t make sense because that space is at a premium.

And third, and I think this is most important of all, when you have a vision of what the audio experience can be, you want to get there as fast you can and make it as great as it can be. And we do have a vision for how audio should work on mobile devices.

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So it seems it really comes down to space. Maybe they need that space for other things? While they alluded to that they weren’t very specific. Some experts believe it was to gain the ability to make the devices even thinner than they are today. That could be. But why not just come out and say that?

Even if that is the real reason, they haven’t really given a compelling argument about it, and many tech experts are blasting them for it.

Chris Taylor of Mashable had this to say: “This is in no way the equivalent of losing the CD drive or the 30-pin connector. There is no technological excuse for this. Music does not sound better over a Lightning cable. Nor does it sound better over Bluetooth, or the proprietary wireless technology Apple is using in its AirPods. There’s simply more audio information traveling over a wire than can travel over the air. Say it with me now: wired almost always sounds better than wireless.”

Rob Pegoraro of Yahoo, meanwhile, said “Apple killed a technology that’s worked fine for decades and left you with solutions that are costlier or more complex and work no better at the core function of delivering sound to your ears.”

Apple has, of course, hit back. “It was fighting for space with camera technologies and processors and battery life,” Apple executive Dan Riccio said. “And frankly, when there’s a better, modern solution available, it’s crazy to keep it around.”

After its abuse online, Apple went on to say that the removal of the headphone jack allowed them to put a battery in the 7 that is 14% larger on the 4.7-inch model, it allowed them to meet the IP7 water resistance threshold and even add more advanced camera technology. They should have said that in the keynote and it is a shame they didn’t. Still, is all that worth abandoning proven technology? Experts will be debating that for quite some time.

At the end of the day, the removal of the headphone jack means that your existing earbuds are obsolete, unless you spend even more money on an adapter or pick up a set of Bluetooth headphones that Apple conveniently makes. So was this about design or was this about money?

Personally, I’m not one to shy away from new technology and new ways of doing things. However, Apple’s lack of communication about why they got rid of something that works so well for so many is arrogance plain and simple. It’s as if they believe everyone will just do as they want them to do and they don’t even have to explain why anymore. That, my friends, is ridiculous.

Steve jobs was no stranger to change and abandoning technology. He would even say something is no longer useful, although he wouldn’t be quite so nice about it. Still, at the end of the day, he knew he had to explain it to many consumers that invest in Apple’s products. Did he want to? Maybe not. But that extra two minutes of time in a keynote goes a long way toward changing people’s attitudes. Would it have worked in this case? No one knows. But why didn’t they try?

There is no doubt that the iPhone 7 is a sleek device featuring some fancy hardware and I’m sure it will be quite fun to use. However, many will find that the lack of a headphone jack will be more than inconvenient. Will it impact iPhone 7 sales? Probably not. Many believe the iPhone 7 is just a carrot to give consumers until they release something for the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. I have a feeling that is true.

Will the lack of a headphone jack sour people on the iPhone? I guess we will have to wait and see. I’m betting many will grin and bear it and get one anyway. After all, it’s not like the headphone jack will return. We all know once Apple abandons hardware, they never look back.

What do you think about this change to the iPhone design? Do you think it was really needed or is just another way for Apple to get a little more money by selling adapters and Bluetooth headphones? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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