It’s the same old story: if you love Apple, you better also love carrying around little adapters.

In a surprise to no one, latest reports – including one from Fast Company – suggest Apple is about to nix the 3.5mm “minijack” analog headphone jack from its next iPhone. (iPad and presumably laptops, too, would be next in line.)

There are two common misunderstandings of the news. One reading (from Apple critics) assumes this locks you into proprietary Apple headphones. It doesn’t. The other (from Apple fans who don’t know that much about audio) assumes higher audio fidelity from “digital” headphones. It probably doesn’t mean that, either (there are some benefits to putting the digital-to-analog converters off the device, but no indication yet that will necessarily mean better sound). First, let’s consider why Apple would do such a thing. In short, of course, profit:

1. Headphones jacks are a potential point of failure. This is especially an issue on the iPhone, because users store them in pockets and whatnot. Any is an entry point for dirt and contaminants, and causes water resistance issues. Also, while this always seemed weird to me, I know some users are known to snap off the end of (presumably sub-par) minijack connectors. Any of this means a potential repair, and Apple likes reducing repairs.

2. A headphone jack may be an obstacle to greater thinness. Now, whether or not you personally want your phone to be any thinner, we know Apple are more than a bit compulsive about thinness. A visible inspection of the iPhone 6 makes it clear that the 3.5mm jack is an obstacle.

3. Lightning jacks mean more control. Speaking of things you already knew about Apple, you knew this would be appealing to them. Accessories with Lightning jacks can be forced into the Made for iPod certification program (MFI), which since the days of the iPod has allowed Apple to have say over who is certified as an accessory and how those devices are designed.

4. Apple’s now in the headphones business. Yeah, remember that Beats by Dre acquisition? So far, we’ve mostly seen the Apple Music service fruits of that deal, as well as an expanded position in the music industry thanks to the Rolodex (or, uh, Apple Address Book) of that company. But some sort of headphone accessory tie-in was inevitable. This is the part that might actually inspire some curiosity.


Okay, so all of that is easy to explain.

The most annoying part of all of this is that it appears to be producing some confusion around “digital” headphones. Of course, there’s no such thing as digital headphones (well, not until we all start living in the Matrix and jacking digital data directly into our brains). What happens here is that the digital-to-analog circuitry moves from the phone to the headphones. That could potentially have some sort of benefit as far as electrical interference, but beyond that, there’s no reason to believe it will make any difference at all – and mainly might become a reason for headphone makers to charge more.

Now, readers of this site can probably count themselves among the people who will be genuinely sad to see the little port go. For us, an iPhone is an essential music device, and being able to conveniently plug any headphones into it is a big deal. Having to make other concessions is unquestionably an annoyance.

There are some reasons not to make a big deal out of this, though.

First, there will almost certainly be an adapter. A simple Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter doesn’t exist yet presumably because it isn’t necessary on the current device range. But I expect it to appear with the iPhone 7 launch, in those characteristic white boxes, at the usual hefty price. I also expect that I’ll wind up losing one or … three … and having to buy more. Great.

Important note about the adapter: recall that there’s already an analog audio breakout as part of Lightning, meaning an adapter doesn’t even need to contain digital-to-analog circuitry. I left this note out of the earlier draft.

(I do fully agree with Daring Fireball: there’s no way you’ll get this adapter for free. Dream on.)

Second, let’s be fair: it isn’t entirely possible to just connect any pair of pro studio headphones into an iPhone or even your laptop and have it work properly. Higher-impdedence headphones can sound too quiet and under-perform. In fact, hopefully the move triggers a crop of “pro” audio adapters to resolve both issues at once.

(There’s a good explanation of how impedance impacts sound at Turntable Lab.)

Thirdly, expect the pro headphone market to take this as an opportunity. I fully expect the likes of Sennheiser to come rushing in with new iOS audio adapters. And while I have limited faith in Beats’ ability to make good headphones for the money (hopefully Apple rubs off on them a bit), there’s nothing stopping some other makers.

Lastly, expect Bluetooth audio to become a solution even beyond adapters and Lightning ports and the like. Bluetooth audio has a bad reputation in the pro audio world partly because a lot of people were exposed to early versions of it. That included low-spec audio streamrate; audio quality can now be indistinguishable from wired cables (if the headphones are any good). And it was accompanied by poor performance, lag, and pairing problems. Don’t get me wrong: I still prefer wires. But Bluetooth audio isn’t the pain it once was.

But the bottom line is, I imagine we will increasingly see two categories of headphones. Pro headphones will continue to be analog devices. But consumer headphones will instead use connectors specific to particular mobile platforms, for better or for worse. That’s annoying, of course, so I would tend to file under “worse”. But as far as those of us who care about higher-quality headphones, I think very little changes.


Feature photo (CC-BY) Ian Lamont /

For posterity, I present the following, from the future:

Lightning to 3.5mm Analog Audio Adapter

Required for using headphones with: iPhone 7, iPhone 7S, iPad Pro 2, iPad mini 5, iPad Air 3, MacBook (2016), MacBook Pro (2016)

Accompanied by claims that “this would never have happened if Steve were alive” and “Apple has stopped innovating” and people completely forgetting how Apple has been doing things like this since the arrival of the iMac.

  • Bobby A

    No sir, I do not like it.

  • oliver

    Audio in and out is the only port with direct access to the wire and hence the only one that’s “hackable” (for example for analog sync).

    • Crap. Well, yes, that’s absolutely worth considering for these cool CV and sync applications.

      I’m really not sure on that, though, Oliver (see discussion above)… I don’t know any reason why you can’t still feed the same audio feed over the Lightning port’s audio out. You’re assuming there may be some latency issue? (though I don’t see why that would be the case… I’ve already used sync over a third-party adapter)

      • oliver

        Sure, with an adaptor you can still use any existing “hack” for analog audio. It just has been shifted away from the device, you can’t build anything that would connect to the phone directly without a license from Apple. The absence of analog audio means that now all interfaces on the device (lightning and various wireless) are “managed”, you don’t have access to voltage levels but only to high level data.

        I’m not complaining or anything, just found it noteworthy.

  • Adam Jay

    I appreciate the logical, pragmatic level of reporting in this article. Thank you.

  • notnosmallfeat

    Apple has never been Free as in Freedom but this is getting ridiculous.

    • NRGuest

      Apple has never been free as in beer either…

    • Why is this getting ridiculous, actually?

      • notnosmallfeat

        Because if the audio is output as a digital signal to, say, 3rd party headphone which not only contain a Digital-Analog-Converter, but also DRM software, then it enables Apple or whomever to have an even more complete lockdown on audio.

        • I’m sorry, but I’m definitely not down with you on this conspiracy theory thing. What do you mean with “lockdown on audio”, actually? As far as I remember, Apple doesn’t exactly have a history in maintaining “locks” on audio media…

        • To say nothing of what they’re doing with contrails and backwards messages in the U2 audio they’re sending.


          Uh, yeah, the reason this *isn’t* an issue is that
          a) as mentioned, there’s already an analog audio stream in Lightning
          b) there’s already a DAC in the iPhone. If I’m right and there’s an adapter, that’s a *second* analog audio output and
          c) there are already audio devices using Lightning and they exert none of the sort of control you’re mentioning

          Anyway, the “analog” gap suggests that as long as humans have ears and there’s a transducer, there will never be complete DRM.

          So… well, keep imagining!

          • notnosmallfeat

            I wasn’t trying to be some sort of conspiracy theorist here. It sounds like my understanding is incomplete, plus I read an earlier version of the article. But the scenario I was imagining was something like only allowing iTunes-purchased music to be played….and while that may be silly because most of that could be done already, and maybe also silly because it would be bad business for Apple, I fail to see how a device which, as the article originally posited, prior to its amendment, only outputs a digital audio signal is NOT less free than one which outputs an analog one. It’s ultimately question of transparency, openness, and interoperability, not unlike the discussion around HTTP 2.0 being a binary protocol. Furthermore, with the various NSA revelations over the past several years, even if my comment was incorrect from a technical basis, it’s primary political concern is hardly the kind of UFO/contrail/crazy-person-conspiracy theorizing you made it out to be. Peter, your putdown was pretty lame. I’ve been a CDM reader a long time. The site’s gone downhill for me in many ways but this is pretty much the last straw. I got a lot of benefit out of this site in the past and thank you for that, but I won’t be coming back.

    • foljs

      Apple has never been to cater to people who want things to remain the same…

      • notnosmallfeat

        That’s not quite what I meant. What I meant was, Apple has never allowed for a significant degree of user freedom (in the Richard Stallman sense) Apple devices — and I say this while typing on a Mac — and that an all-digital signal path from source to destination has the potential for greater enforcement of things like DRM software.

  • “A simple Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter doesn’t exist yet…” — Actually, it does exist. The Apple Universal Lightning dock has 3.5mm audio output, but it’s designed for desk speakers, not headphones. Includes data and power pass-through, but not pass-through for headphone controls. Just needs an update and a new form factor.

    • Prof. Peabody

      That’s stupid. So I should attach an iPhone dock to my phone while it’s in my pocket to use my ear buds? Ridiculous.

      • RTFC. “Just needs an update and a new form factor.”

        • B.C. Thunderthud

          RTFC. “Actually, it does exist.” Since the “it” there is “a simple Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter” the obnoxious and insulting acronym seems uncalled for.

          • Why? It is a simple Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter. If anything, it’s overly simple, lacking headphone control functionality because it’s designed for desk speakers that use 3.5mm. However, it can be made to work in cars. I use an old iPod universal dock in my car setup (with an extension cable and Lightning adapter). If I didn’t want the remote, I could swap in a Lightning dock and extension cable. This is an existing solution for anyone who uses cassette adapters or line-in car audio and is decrying losing the headphone jack. This Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter needs to be reworked for headphones, but the adapter itself already exists. We don’t need to start from scratch.

          • Why? It is a simple Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter. If anything, it’s overly simple, lacking headphone control functionality because it’s designed for desk speakers that use 3.5mm. However, it can be made to work in cars. I use an old iPod universal dock in my car setup (with an extension cable and Lightning adapter). If I didn’t want the remote, I could swap in a Lightning dock and extension cable. This is an existing solution for anyone who uses cassette adapters or line-in car audio and is decrying losing the headphone jack. This Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter needs to be reworked for headphones, but the adapter itself already exists. We don’t need to start from scratch.

    • Ah, good point. Well… it isn’t specifically designed for this application, which is what I meant, but… that still only demonstrates that providing audio out is not likely to be a big deal.

      I don’t think anyone likes carrying adapters (weirdos if you do), but it will still work.

      • Yes, that’s exactly my point. Thank you. We don’t have to hypothesize the adapter. We know that audio out works. The only issue is reworking it for headphones.

  • Jules Hobbes

    The lightning connection also allows the headphones to communicate back to the device – read “smart headphones”.

    • My EarPods can communicate back to the device. I can pause, skip and rewind/fast forward songs and video. Oh and it sends my voice thru a microphone.

    • Yeah, and Apple is rumored to be working on some noise cancellation something or other. It’s tough to know yet what application really requires this to be bi-directional with the device, though; I’m unclear on what that would actually do.

      • Bi-directional communication gets interesting when you think about earbuds as another sensor input to the playback device. For example, each earbud could:

        • Ping your eardrum and measure the response to tailor the sound to the shape of your ear canal, creating individualized, dynamic HRTFs.
        • Know exactly how loud the sound was inside your ear and limit it to protect your hearing.
        • Analyze external sound more precisely than a microphone mounted outside the headphone could, for better noise cancelation.
        • Measure your heart rate, temperature, and other data through biosensors.
        • Measure your head rotation and control 3D spatialization for augmented reality.

        For more background and ideas, see the 2014 Project Bar-B-Q report, “3.5mm Is Not Enough,” where we investigated the potential transition to USB-C.

  • BBBB

    I’ve seen rumors that the new iPhone will be waterproof and have wireless charging. That points to a completely sealed case – no openings of any kind.

    • That would make it really hard to have a phone conversation.

      • Sigivald

        Well, I bet you can make a diaphragm for a speaker or mic that’s waterproof…

        • Absolutely. They did in the Apple Watch. But it doesn’t sound very good for more than alert sounds.

          • Look at Sony’s waterproof phones… and yes, the headphone jack would be a big no-no if that’s their aim.

  • This rumor sounds like “Apple is making a TV” to me.

    • Prof. Peabody

      I wish they would. Have you seen the absolute shite that passes for TVs lately?

      • Nothing that’s wrong with television can be fixed with a new screen.

        • foljs

          Most of what’s wrong about TV devices can be fixed with a new TV UI though.

          • I should clarify. I meant that the biggest problem with TV is the TV industry. I know there are problems with most TV UI, but you don’t need to make a whole TV to fix that. Case in point, the Apple TV. Most people seem to think it’s got a much better UI than most TV sets, but when Apple tried to implement a live streaming bundle of channels it was the networks that stopped that from happening.

  • Prof. Peabody

    Point number 2, (which is widely seen and stated around the web as the main reason for the change), is actually false and easily provable as such. This has absolutely nothing to do with making the iPhone thinner despite it being the main driver in most folks minds.

    Also, why is this article being praised as “pragmatic” and “reasonable” when it basically just says: “Apple will do this because they can, it will cost you a lot of money and inconvenience, but hey … that’s okay and who cares anyway?” The flippancy, and the lack of any defence of the actual consumers here is worrying to say the least.

    This reads like a troll comment on 9to5Mac, not a serious article.

    • Sigivald

      Yeah, I don’t see how it could be thinner when the interior is all battery and battery life is the minimum constraint.

      Looking at the iFixit teardown of the 6S, I find “but thinner!” beyond plausible at this point.

      (At some point, also, “thinner” stops mattering; it has to be comfortable in your hand, and that requires some minimum thickness for curvature.

      We are at diminishing returns now, at best.)

    • I think that’s utterly unreasonable.

      First – no, point number two holds. Let’s rephrase as “removing the port saves space.” Given Apple’s use of space inside their form factor, a minijack and its assembly would look freaking huge if you took the thing apart. I don’t think either of us knows what the next iPhone looks like, but I’m hardly in some weird fanboy territory by suggesting Apple is probably making it thinner or more packed somehow whether we want that or not.

      “A lot of money and inconvenience” — well, no, I’m guessing it’ll cost you US$29.99 or thereabouts, plus the inconvenience of plugging that widget into a cable. That’s something you’ve already done with airplane headphone jacks or switching between minijack and 1/4″ jack plugs, too. Though… well, bad example, as I tend to lose those. (And is anyone else annoyed that all headphone minijacks seem to have slightly different barrels so half of the minijack adapters don’t work? Wait… I digress.)

      The point is: the audio connection is still there. Apps work the same way. There’s a physical adapter that might theoretically be added to a future device.

      So who, exactly, is trolling?

      • I’ve got a couple jack-to-minijack left over in a box. Should I send some to Berlin? 😉

  • Chicken Killer

    “and people completely forgetting how Apple has been doing things like this since the arrival of the iMac.”

    I don’t know… This is different. Apple traditionally nixed computing peripherals ( floppy disks, SCSI, firewire, etc..) , that are standard in the computer world, dictated new standards , etc.
    The 3.5 jack on the other hand is a universally used connector older than the mac itself ( ?) and widely used outside the computer world. I expect there is going to be FAR more resistance than with the pc peripherals and connectors. It’s not solving any real problems except to make the iphone thinner, even though no one is asking for it.
    I don’t like it.

    • Sigivald

      SCSI was never standard “in the computer world” – it was standard in the UNIX world; x86 PCs never came with SCSI unless you paid a lot of extra money and were a weirdo.

      Firewire came from Apple and nobody else used it extensively; only Sony even came close.

      Floppies… yeah, and good riddance.

      While I agree that it really ought to stay on the iPhone, I think Bluetooth audio is the real future for audio output anyway; no staticky wire connections; 3.5mm has never really been good, just good enough.

    • Well, it doesn’t solve any problems other than possibly improve water resistance, reducing repair incidence, and making the form factor slimmer… uh, that’s actually a lot.

      Like I said, I want to keep the jack. But I can’t say I don’t understand why they might nix it, because I do. And ironically, some of those reasons were wisely pointed out by readers when I came out strongly against this idea a couple of years ago.

    • are BT headphones not also a standard?

  • lala

    It’s just the phone, I don’t care. No headphone jack on the iPad would be a different story.

    • I would be floored if we didn’t see the same approach on iPad and iPhone. But the same solutions would also apply.

    • foljs

      It makes even less sense to keep it on the iPad.

      • Chicken Killer

        “It makes even less sense to keep it on the iPad.”
        Why ? The iPad has plenty of space inside, isn’t in urgent need of waterproofing ( do you swim with your ipad ?) or thinning, already has a Lighting port. There is no pragmatic reason not to leave the headphone jack option there.

  • DPrty

    Its not an annoyance, its a deal breaker.

    • Having an adapter? It’s a deal breaker on something you haven’t even seen yet?

      I mean, we don’t throw away a pair of headphones just because they have a 3.5mm jack and we have a 1/4″ connection on a piece of gear.

      • DPrty

        No access to voltage levels. The pursuit of convenience usually leaves the power-user out in the cold. Its funny how Korg has moved into the future by killing the midi plug on many of their devices in favor of the 3.5 and now Apple is killing the 3.5 … Different companies different futures. 😉

        • misksound

          yes. because CV is the future. The best part about that newfangled control voltage technology is that it’s standardized 😉

        • USB Type-C™ is the future for digital / data connections; there are chips to enable legacy microcontrollers (e.g., Microchip UTC2000) to use this. Add a Type-C breakout for analog CV + digital gate / trig and you’re done.

    • freqn

      Couldn’t agree more.

    • foljs

      People said the same thing for the omission of floppy drives and the DVD drives.

      Didn’t turn out to be so.

  • Charles Hawkins

    “Apple has been doing things like this since the arrival of the iMac”

    I can’t believe this ridiculous new “Apple ][” doesn’t come with any front-panel switches or even so much as a simple hex keypad to access the RAM, instead it forces you to use Apple’s proprietary software just to edit your own computer’s memory. Steve has truly lost it, and users will never accept this garbage. This never would have happened if Ronald Wayne were still at Apple.

    • Rhys Braun

      Steve is dead you douche canoe!

  • Charles Hawkins

    “Apple has been doing things like this since the arrival of the iMac”

    I can’t believe this ridiculous new “Apple ][” doesn’t come with any front-panel switches or even so much as a simple hex keypad to access the RAM, instead it forces you to use Apple’s proprietary software just to edit your own computer’s memory. Steve has truly lost it, and users will never accept this garbage. This never would have happened if Ronald Wayne were still at Apple.

  • Sigivald

    “Apple’s now in the headphones business”

    Has been since 2001, with the first iPod.

    The difference is now they market headphones as a product line; they’ve been happily selling them for almost 15 years, even standalone.

    • Freeks

      I actually bought Apple In-Ear headphones years a go for iPhone. With 90€ i got decent in-ears that had remote for calls and music. At that time those were the only ones on market. They of course broke down after 13 months. Only earbuds that have ever gone bad in my use.

      • NRGuest

        You must be really nice to your ear buds… I usually have to buy a new pair every year. What are you using that doesn’t break?

  • Freeks

    iPhone 6+ might be my last iPhone. I can live with adapter on my iMac, but not on iPhone. I cannot think a way that it would NOT break at some point.

    Will the “digital” headphones then have analog adapter?
    If i buy new earbuds/headphones for iPhone how would i use them with other devices? Even iMac would need Lightning hub to just connect headphones. That’s why i doubt they will drop it from computers.

    As others said 3,5mm is universal. It’s not going away like floppy and dvd drives did. It’s older than Apple and might even be here after Apple is gone.

    • foljs

      “””iPhone 6+ might be my last iPhone. I can live with adapter on my iMac, but not on iPhone. I cannot think a way that it would NOT break at some point.”””

      That’s why moving to the future with wireless headphones is to your advantage.

      The adapter is just a stop gap. And what if it “breaks at some point”? Everything might break at some point.

  • djkm

    Things this “one port to rule them all” idea screws up:

    1/ charging and listening to music with non-Bluetooth headphones at the same time.

    2/ any idea of connection to external gear with headphones connected at the same time

    But I’m sure there’s. $50 splitter cable on the way as well.

    • Yeah, there’s some discussion of charging in that article. It seems they may have a new charging solution, too. 😉 And actually, that’s another reason not to get *too* freaked out about this — that is, the status quo isn’t really perfect, either. Too often you have to choose between keeping your iOS device charged and using an accessory (which is sort of a silly problem to have).

  • Terrible

    Peter Kirn 2014:

    “I am completely positive that eliminating headphone jacks is a bad idea.”
    “Eliminating the Headphone Jack Would be a Huge Regression.”
    “… it would be a grave mistake.’
    “Headphone jacks are essential for pros.”
    “Headphone jacks are essential for consumers. ”
    “… saying the problem with headphone jacks is that “it’s old” is just ridiculous.”
    “Lightning and Bluetooth don’t cut it.”

    Peter Kirn 2016:
    “There are some reasons not to make a big deal out of this.”


    • Well, speaking of regressions, the point is to have your opinion evolve (not devolve).

      After I wrote that, readers pointed out the very justifications that might explain why you’d make such a decision (the reasons I listed at the top).

      Also, I think I made a key error in that earlier story:

      “In order to eliminate the headphone jack, Apple would need all audio on iOS to be routed through Bluetooth audio, certified Lightning hardware, or (while Tabini doesn’t mention it, and they’re not Apple-certified) USB audio devices.”

      That’s where I think I was just plain wrong. Given that audio output is actually already on Lightning, then we’re really only talking about the physical connector going away.

      I said it’d be a regression, and I do still find it annoying (as I use that jack every day). But I said it’d be a regression if it didn’t come with any positive changes (if you read the whole article).

      It seems that waterproofing and a solution that allows simultaneous charging and accessory use may both be on the new devices.

      I still want my damned headphone jack, but … as I said, I no longer think it’s reason to panic.

  • makeittalk

    All I know is I just spent over $650 on two Bose QC20 noise cancelling headphones for my wife and I. They are expensive, high quality and have 3.5mm jacks. Without an adapter, the next iPhone will absolutely and definitely not be on my list. Love my Bose as much as my iPhone 6+ so stay here I will. 🙂

    • Right – so you’ll get the adapter. Also putting minijack female on one end and Lightning on the other is good.

      • makeittalk

        Yep. An adapter would be an obvious solution to the issue for almost everyone with any buds or cans. I’m sure someone will make one.

    • First, nobody *forces* you to purchase the new iPhone when it comes out. Second, after you have already spent more than 2000$ for two iPhones and two pairs of Bose headphones, you might well be able to afford two 30$ adapters…

      • makeittalk

        Sorry you have trouble reading English Henry. Did you understand the “without an adapter” clause with which I began my last sentence? Let me clarify for you since you’re having trouble…If there is no adapter available, I will keep my phones. If there is, I will consider upgrading. Hope you feel better now.

        • Thank you for clarifying. I don’t think I have trouble reading English. I just cannot think of any scenario, where an adapter would not be available, if the next iPhone only had a Lightning port. Therefore, I read your comment as “without a mini jack in the phone”, which apparently was an incorrect assumption. And yes, English is only my second language, so I make mistakes.

  • dbmarin

    Hey Peter 2014, I’m so with you on this because ditching my ‘jack will introduce complexity without adding function. Imagine the new (fat?) connector in which to insert the still-industry-standard-for-years mini-stereo jacks. Of course, the software to manage it all will have to play nice with everything else. Bottom line: The fone may be thinner but the software will be more obese.
    Hey Peter 2016
    I really hope they NDA’d you on stuff you can’t tell us yet ’cause that don’ make no sens bro’ =-)

    • Explained this in greater detail below, but the main reason for changing my mind (not changing my mind as in “yay, thank you for killing the jack I use every day,” but at least in, “okay, but in the end it may not make much difference”):

      Analog output is actually part of the Lightning spec.
      And it seems from the article above they may improve water resistance and charging while using accessories (though that remains to be seen)

      Also, I’ve written iOS software for handling audio jacks. There’s no reason to think that this makes any bloody difference for a well-written iOS app – not the jack itself, anyway. If they’ve made some change to the OS I don’t know about, then I can get mad.

      Believe me, I’m the last to know about what Apple’s doing. They control that information stream very tightly and tend to tell the press basically just as or only just before it launches.

      • cygnus23

        Where are you seeing analog audio out on the Lightning spec? You’re telling me that 3 of the pins can be configured to support L,R,Common? I am not aware of a single adapter for this. You can use a lightning to 30pin adapter with 30pin to analog audio connector but the Lightning to 30pin adapter has active electronics including a DAC. There are very few all-in-one Lightning to analog audio cables and to my knowledge they all contain DACs. Do you have a source for your info?

      • Freeks

        How do you charge and play music at the same time if there is only one connector?

        • Wirelessly, with the NFC tech that they will add to the iPhone next. And yes, other phone makers already do that, but it was never Apple’s goal to be the first with something. They’d rather do it better than the rest. And whatever “better” means for them, might not mean the same for you.

          Oh, and you don’t need a connector to play music, because there’s Bluetooth…

          • Freeks

            The is no Bluetooth in my kitchen stereo where i listen most of the music. It does have iPod dock, but guess does it work with iPhone 6 😉 So it’s 3,55mm or silence.

            How long range NFC charging have? If it’s long then not worried about radiation? And is it something that you place on table and put your phone over it (like current wireless chargers) or is something in poweroutlet that streams the power to your pocket?

      • Freeks

        How do you charge and play music at the same time if there is only one connector?

  • Harry_Beaver

    Jim, use your connections and let  know the outrage that just the rumor is causing. What will happen when the rumor turns to fact? Massive revolt is what will happen.  sells a LOT of devices to people that already have the previous versions. My 6s doesn’t do anything that I need that my 6 didn’t do. What will the 7 give me that the 6s doesn’t? Oh yeah, the HASSLE of the missing 3.5 adaptor. Will I rush out and buy the 7 on launch day as I have every year for the past 6 years? Even if they include a 1000 mega pixel camera with even crappier live photos? Not a chance.

    Sorry, I have to send my heart beat to someone and draw them a little picture on my Apple watch. Ok, I’m back. I would’ve been back sooner, but I was using 3D touch on my 6s and mistakenly deleted an app while trying to see if it had additional 3D touch options which, of course it didn’t.

    Let the new MacBook be your guide. I would guess that other than the early adopters, not too well. It’s almost useless without an extra adapter. No thanks.

    • I’d say, you are wrong on a lot of levels, regarding the new MacBook. It is merely a question of use cases. If it does not work for you, it does not mean that it does not work for anybody else either. It’s just the same moaning over and over again. When the iMac dismissed the floppy disk drive in favour of USB, when the MacBooks lost the optical drive, and now when they loose the various connections. But that is exactly why Apple is maintaining the “Pro” line of MacBooks. Because they have (and will most certainly continue to have) all sorts of jacks and ports. There you go.

      And btw, nobody is forcing you to purchase the iPhone 7. Ah, and why did you purchase the 6S in the first place, when the 6 was still good enough for you? Just because you could? That’s OK, but then don’t blame Apple for anything.

      • Harry_Beaver


        So good to hear from the  can do no wrong crowd. I expected it and you didn’t let me down. Thank you.

        Nobody forced me to buy anything. Fortunately, I have a lifestyle were I can buy whatever I want. I guess you were unaware of the advances from the 6 to the 6s. There were a few. My family and friends appreciate the fact that I give them my “like new, old devices.”

        The KoolAid crowd, much like  management will NEVER listen to any constructive criticism and the cult will accept EVERYTHING they sell.

        I hope  can recognize that now is not the time to make such a radical change. I “focus grouped” this idea to the iPhone users that I know (techie and non-techie). Bluetooth has been available on the iPhone since the first version was announced 9 YEARS ago. I’m still seeing plenty of white earbuds, bud! If these people wanted a wireless solution, it’s been available to them for a LONG time. It ain’t selling cell phones.

        Back to my focus group responses…
        None were in support of eliminating the port, but for various reasons.
        Another battery to charge
        Something small to lose. (I know I’ll lose just ONE of the wireless earbuds rendering the other useless)
        They currently have different listening devices for different situations (noise cancelling for air travel, sport for exercise, original for hands free etc)
        Pairing is not always painless
        Continuously on radio next to your melon all day
        Battery endurance of earbuds
        Potential to affect battery life of iPhone
        Don’t understand the wireless technology (and don’t want to learn it)
        They like their options, wireless should they want it, wired should they not
        Poor Bluetooth audio quality
        They like to have all the wired choices currently available
        Expensive  adapter (AND losing it)
        They don’t want to get locked into one supplier controlled option for such a vital accessory

        Look, the KoolAid  cult will NEVER understand. They worship at the temple of Cupertino and Jobs was their prophet. Nice to have I suppose because it sells a lot of products. However, as unfortunate as this is, this “cult like” behavior is a major turn off for many people and primary reason for them not to consider the ecosystem in at least equal numbers.

        I want  to do well. I love the products they put out. This will be a stumble. Those that finally have the form factor they want, will keep it. The cult will buy in the first few weeks. The numbers will be huge, as they always are, then will fall off…quickly.

        I’ve recently seen the Watch, TV AND iPad Pro for sale at substantial discounts. All NEW products. This never used to happen.  controls the supply line so tightly that they would allow that.

        They cut production of the iPhone because of lack luster sales and it’s hurting their suppliers so it can’t be because they have started iPhone 7 production.

        I don’t want them to fail on this as I fear that the new MacBook has for lack of ports. Call around. All the stores have ALL the colors. It’s not flying off the shelves. Great little laptop too.

        China is failing causing the world markets to crash. What new market will  exploit? There are not enough Iranians to make up for the world economics and the impact it will have.

        • Such an extensive sermon and so many wrong assumptions. But that little apple icon is really cute.

    • foljs

      “””What will the 7 give me that the 6s doesn’t? Oh yeah, the HASSLE of the missing 3.5 adaptor. Will I rush out and buy the 7 on launch day as I have every year for the past 6 years? Even if they include a 1000 mega pixel camera with even crappier live photos? Not a chance.”””

      They don’t expect you to get the 7 anyway.

      The normal update cycle they expect is on a 2 year contract, so from 6s to 7s or 8, not from 6s to 7.

      By which time (of 7s) there would be so many improvements out there that your 6s will look ready for an update.

  • dbmarin

    Hey Peter 2014, I’m so with you on this because ditching my ‘jack will introduce complexity without adding function. Imagine the new (fat?) connector in which to insert the still-industry-standard-for-years mini-stereo jacks. Of course, the software to manage it all will have to play nice with everything else. Bottom line: The fone may be thinner but the software will be more obese.
    Hey Peter 2016
    I really hope they NDA’d you on stuff you can’t tell us yet ’cause that don’ make no sens bro’ =-)

  • Vera Comment

    there’s a “benefit” of having the DAC moved from the phone to the headphones.

    the benefit being the quality of the DAC itself..

    if you’re using the headphone jack, you’re stuck using Apple’s Digital to Analog Converter..

    if you use the (LOD) line out digital, the data in the file is sent directly to the user’s DAC of choice.

    Yeah, it’s a “audiophile” concern… but I use a DAC with my ipod. 30 PIN to the DAC. headphones plugged in to the DAC. with a decent pair of cans, the difference is immediately noticeable..

    i have a pair of westone 4’s and Beyerdynamic DT880’s (64 ohm impedance).
    ….phone/ipod/ipad simply CANNOT drive the 880’s – impedance is too high.. you can use the 32 ohm version just fine, however.

    and I don’t think 30 is the price. as long as all you get is an audio pass-through – as you mention, it supports analog already, so a very simple design, no licensing required for 3rd parties, apple would be foolish to charge more than 5 bucks over the monoprice version.

    remember the first gen iphone had that recessed jack and a lot of headphones wouldn’t fit.. didn’t apple end up making an adapter for about 10 bucks? (I know I bought at least one 3rd party “pigtail” for around the same)

    • Right, and that to me is interesting. But we have to have hardware that actually takes advantage of that.

  • DJ Hombre

    This will end DJing for anyone using a USB DJ controller an an audio splitter cable.

    • Yes, though… not for anyone using an audio interface, which is more convenient for that use case anyway, I think. The Traktor Z1 is terrific, for instance, and dirt cheap.

    • No, it won’t, because you will most certainly be able to purchase a small jack adapter.

  • Paolo

    if size was the problem, why not a 1,5 jack?

    • Because that is most likely as waterproof (as in: not) as the 3.5 mm jack. And because it does not solve the adapter problem at all, because you would need a 1.5-to-whatever adapter. So, what would be the point of doing that?

  • freqn

    I disagree with this article’s attempt to somewhat justify Apple’s transition. Really? A more appropriate assumption would be that Apple seeks more revenue from their customer base so they’re going to “motivate” those of us who stay with them to buy more proprietary adapters. The decision is nothing more than a business play and typical Apple snub against musicians and listeners IMHO.

    • that’s paranoid nonsense — they already earn more money every quarter than god and have people lining up to buy iPhones, they don’t need to scam you for an adapter.

      • freqn

        Adapters = additional revenue. That’s all. It’s strategic business. Don’t be fooled.

        • that’s nonsense, because of the risk of goodwill. and if that nonsense were true they’d release a brand new power adapter every year, because why not it’s additional revenue.

          nope. you clearly aren’t a business man. instead you’re using a moustsche twirling archetype of what a business man is…but it’s not reality.

          • freqn


          • synapticflow

            Are you saying that companies care about goodwill to the customer? No they don’t. They care about cutting corners, ripping you off, nickle and diming you and profit margins. And none of them feel rich enough. So who are they going to take that out on? You and me.

        • foljs

          Some meager “Additional revenue” of the kind a new headphone port would bring in doesn’t mean much to businesses compared to things like opportunity cost, customer loyalty, etc.

          Apple has been doing those things (removing stuff ahead of time) even when met with negative reactions and risked reduced sales.

        • I agree to some degree. It would be a cost cutting measure as it would reduce the number of components in the iPhone, but I don’t think they’d sell an adapter. The first iPhone couldn’t accommodate most third-party headphones because the recessed jack was too skinny, but Apple never made an adapter because they included headphones that fit the jack. If this happens I’d expect Apple to include compatible headphones in the box and if users want a better experience they’d have to incur that cost themselves, whether it’s higher quality compatible headphones or an adapter for non-compatible headphones.

      • I agree. Let’s have a look at Apple’s last quarterly results:

        In millions USD…

        iPhone (1) 32,209
        iPad (1) 4,276
        Mac (1) 6,882
        Other products (1)(3) 3,048

        (1) Includes deferrals and amortization of related software upgrade rights and non-software services.
        (3) Includes sales of Apple TV, Apple Watch, Beats products, iPod and Apple-branded and third-party accessories.

        Now, we do not know exactly how much Apple makes on cables and adapters, really. But I would guess that TV, Watch and Beats are making the vast majority of the latter. And all that together is less than a 10th of what they make with iPhones alone.

        I can hardly imagine that Apple’s main motivation is making more money with cables and adapters.

        • Right exactly. Well, I did talk about profits, but — that’s to do with efficiency. Apple is obsessive about lower incidence of repair, and this does appear to figure into that. And I suspect the savings of not having the jack on here could actually work out to be more significant than what they profit from the adapter.

          Anyway, the people who stand to make money from this are not adapter makers but rather anyone making Lightning- or Bluetooth-enabled headphones. That includes Apple.

          • Jake

            I currently have to give the headphone jack on my iPhone 6 a regular clean out so that it a) works properly and b) doesn’t make the phone think I’ve got headphones plugged in and disable the main microphone. I completely agree that reducing repairs is the motivation. I should note that I’ve never had to clean my lightening port, presumably that as it’s smaller it doesn’t create the same issues.

          • DJMixomnia .

            I’ve had to clean both the headphone port and the lightning connector. Thought my connector was broken because it wouldn’t charge anymore, looked it up. Luckily only had to clean out some dust and it worked perfectly again.

            Surprised me how much came out of it!

        • synapticflow

          more money sucks.

      • Freeks

        Actually 2014 was the first year here in Finland that iPhone was not the most sold smart phone. It’s a first sign of what’s coming. Nothing lasts forever. Not even Apple.

    • foljs

      The revenue from such a move wouldn’t amount to anything with regards to other Apple revenue. It might even be negative, as people won’t buy the things because they don’t like that they don’t have a headphone port.

      Apple just moves to the future faster. In 5-10 years, most devices will come with wireless headphones. Going for the lighting port is just a first step.

  • my family and I use either 1) free EarPods. 2) wireless BT headphones. thus it won’t be a big deal to us.

    I suspect we aren’t alone. in fact, I suspect we are the majority.

    • Not sure if you’d be in the majority, but you’re certainly not alone.

  • Seems, I am a lone minority here on this specific topic. I just purchased Sennheiser Momentum Wireless headphones, which work a treat via Bluetooth and sound great for music listening – and yes, they do provide a lot of detail in the music. Word to all naysayers: Try it yourself before you moan about lossy audio formats and compressed signal for BT transmission.

    And then, things get even better:

    In all seriousness, I have no problem at all waving those mini jack plugs goodbye.

    And for pro studio work: Well, if you can afford an iPhone or iPad for music production, you can certainly afford a bloody 30$ adapter too. Because, how do you connect a “pro” audio interface to you iDevices today? Right, you purchase a camera connection kit with Lightning-to-USB. And what if the iDevice had a mini- or micro-USB or whatever that’s called? Right, you would have to purchase a mini-USB-to-USB adapter. Get the point? There will always be adapters involved, when you want to connect any gear to any computer, phone or tablet.

    So, with that in mind, what exactly is the problem with using a Lightning-to-USB or a Lightning-to-whatever adapter with the next generation of iDevices? Heck, there could even be a Lightning-to-6.3mm-jack adapter, so you could plug in your “pro-studio” headphones directly (because most of them do not come with mini jack plugs, do they?)

    • aaron

      Adapter? adapter adapter adapter? Do you even adapter, bro? You don’t adapter, say? Adapter adapter adapter. Adapter. Ok, fine, adapter.

      • Errr… What exactly is your problem?

        • aaron


  • adrianoconnor

    Regarding your prediction from the future, I don’t see MacBook and MacBook Pro getting lightning ports anytime soon, or ever, actually. I wonder how people would feel if the hole in the bottom of the lightning-ported-jackless iPhone 7 was actually… dun dun dun… a USB-C port? That’d then line up with doing the same thing on the Macbook.

    • That would indeed be a great idea. Compatible with an accepted industry standard, rather small in form factor, and pretty versatile for a lot of applications. I am not sure, however, that Apple would be interested in changing that connector again after such short time. Remember how long they held onto that damn 30-pin connector?

  • FS

    if the iPhone gets any thinner it will be unholdable and will bend in our pockets! the cool thing about the iPhone is its an all in one solution, seems a little funny if everyone has to have a little adaptor hanging from the bottom, and its another thing to misplace. i think it will take some time before the obsolescence of the headphones everyone already owns will be accepted.

  • Give me back my cd/dvd reader!! 😂😂😂😂

  • Grey De La Drionne

    I fucking hope Apple and manufacturers will fail with this market plan. it’s not ridiculous. it’s smart, but better of that, it’s disrespectfull to the people. apple doesn’t consider consumer. nobody asks for an iphone to be slimmer than it is.

    • Space Captain

      No one asked for a smartphone either and look where we are now.

  • Calm the FUD – once you convert the signal to analogue, none of this matters. For electronics manufacturers, this will be a big opportunity to obtain an I2S signal direct from the device, with less jitter, automatic switching of the native sample rate (if required), and the ability to support codecs independent of the host OS.

    That said – it’s time to loosen the requirements for the Made for iPod developer program, so that the maker community can make use of this interface and to encourage (gasp!) wider adoption.

  • Dann Thorpe

    apple fanboys be like “yeah but its better because apple said so”

    • Tom_P

      And Apple haters be like “it’s bad because Apple does it.

      • Dann Thorpe

        Ask anyone in telecommunications about apple products and they will laugh at you and then proceed to tell you that apple products are very simple devices made for children/old people and for basically anyone that has no idea about technology.

        • Tom_P

          Now trolls somewhere else. You’re embarrassing yourself.

        • Space Captain

          We’ll I’m in telecommunications and you’re being kind of sad and silly.

  • Freeks

    I have confess here that i’m a Apple Adapter collector.

    Not by choice, but i have serious amount of Apple Adapters. I have everything from S-video -> composite to thunderbolt to firewire and everything in between.

    One adapter more makes no difference anymore 😀

  • Ja

    DA converters in iphones and ipads have never been good. So why not having a converter inside better headphones or have a special adapter with a good preamp?

    • Space Captain

      This hasn’t been true for a since the iPhone 5. There are numerous analyses online showing this. The weakest link is the headphones.

  • PurpleRain

    By the way, what’s this obsession every one here have with “waterproofing” the iPhone ? Do you people shower or go swimming with your phone ? Why does it matter more than waterproofing your PC or iPad ?

    • The main thing that breaks an iPhone is water. Sure, dropping it might break the screen, but usually the phone still works and you can just get a new screen. But if you get one wet (i.e. submerged) your phone is DOA. Under warranty Apple would have to replace or repair so it’s in Apple’s best interest to make the iPhone as “unbreakable” as possible, including waterproofing it, to avoid giving away new iPhones.

      I’ve also heard stories of users sweating during a workout or jogging when it started raining and having to deal with a wet phone out of warranty (i.e buy a whole new phone). A more durable device would benefit the consumer as well.

  • Graham Metcalfe

    Didn’t we just get the EXACT same rumor regarding the iPhone 6S? Same rhetoric, same verbiage, and some of the exact same imagery.

  • fefe

    I am waiting for the day that the general public just stops wasting their money on Apple

  • aaron

    At some point in time, “think different” became “tryhard”. When greed in the disguise of style or advancement gets in the way of practicality, its time to look elsewhere. Balancing the arguments and lines between designers and engineers was arguably one of Apples strengths at one point… but it’s been awhile now.

    I’m not too unsure this conversation didn’t take place;
    “where else can we squeeze a dollar out of this thing? i mean, we gotta keep lifting profits always”.
    “what about the headphone port?”
    “what about it?”
    “if we remove it we can make licensing $$ on the new products (do you even adapter, brah?) that will come out to -solve the issue of it not being there-, plus we can probably tie something in with our Beats line to make something “compatible” without an adapter and use that high Beats price-tag along side it”
    “omg. good idea. you are awesome and we’re about to make some cash.”

    Apple isn’t trying to reinvent something here or think outside the box, or do something different, as many of you apologists will likely troll on about. It is 100% cash grab. Accept that and you’ll be less annoying in your opinions. Spade=spade.

    • Can you back up any of this with actual facts or reasons – or do you just like to listen to yourself trolling away?

      • aaron

        I didn’t state a single thing remotely requiring facts. It was all opinion. How you don’t understand that isn’t my problem.

        • Oh, thanks for confirming that you actually were just trolling.

          • aaron

            You’re the one trolling man. Can’t stomache someone else’s opinion. Grow up.

  • Fayek Helmi

    honestly, talking about the point claiming the headphone jack can collect dust and pocket lint and stuff… I’ve had way more problems with the lightning cable port collecting dust and preventing my phone from properly charging and not a single problem with my 3.5mm headphone jack….

  • sacredgeometry

    You need a DAC to drive the speakers… so no they are not going to move that outside the device unless they want to stop the phone from making any sound at all… which would be problematic.

  • Here is an interesting point that I haven’t thought about yet and that I find hard to not like: Dismiss the mini jack and get some space for a larger battery.

  • cristofir

    I still buy phones with micro sd slots. There’s that Marshall phone out there (maybe?) with two headphone ports. I’d rather go that route. This modern minimalist bullshit is so fucking boring where’s all the rad cyber punk hacker gear. I want a phone lined with ports. I want serial ports, real hardware io for projects. I want midi out. I want a full size sd card slot I want something thicker with a bigger battery that lasts a whole day while using Bluetooth constantly. Anyway. I get bamboo countertops and brushed aluminum

  • Elekb

    Late comer to this thread, lots of work and not enough time to complain about Apple’s recent policies and increasing closedness and greed.

    To pick up on one of Peter’s comments below:

    I still want my damned headphone jack.

    Which I can use to listen to music and sounds in:

    older IPhones
    Mac computers
    Toshiba laptops
    2010 Bang & Olufsen high-end stereo systems
    my dad’s old 1970’s Phillips stereo system
    Sony smartphones
    Samsung tablets
    old 1980’s walkmans
    old 1990’s IBM desktop computers with soundcards
    Dell laptops
    Behringer Eurorack mixing desks
    Asus laptops
    MOTU soundcards
    my 1991 Gameboy device
    my brother’s Xbox One Wireless Controller


    Also, personally, scubadiving with smartphones is not something I normally do.

    Anyway, you see where this is going.
    So yeah,

    I still want my damned headphone jack. Or at least I will want it if I buy the new iPhone.
    Which, for the reasons above, I won’t.

    And it looks like my next music-making laptop a few years from now will not be Apple either.
    I’ve already had to spend money on ethernet and firewire adapters, plus I’ve been burned by their forced system updates which have pushed me into abandoning Logic altogether (don’t really miss it these days). adapters for headphone jacks will be the one of the last straws for me (if it comes to that)

    I would venture to say that the trend here at CDM is becoming increasingly acritical of Apple’s increasingly tighter walled-garden, anti-standards policy.

    For these reasons, I’m a bit disappointed with Peter’s article, and his U-turn regarding his 2014 article that commenter Terrible kindly dug out for us.

    Maybe I’m being harsh, but anyway, just my two cents.

  • Tony

    Translation: Apple is not making any money off of the 3rd party “industry standard 3.5mm jack” accessories that are being plugged into their devices. Of course, the lightning jack requires Apple’s cut. So let’s make a standard pair of headphones go through the lightning jack.

    I’m a huge ipad and iphone fan. I’ve had both since the absolute beginning of their lines. But this is ridiculous and I will hold off upgrading (or very possibly even staying with Apple) if this comes true. It’s one too many / enough is enough.

    I do not want to carry another adaptor around, and I do not want to buy another set of Bose noise cancelling headphones that come with a lightning jack (or come with the darn adapter /shudder).

  • Robert0

    Well, Apple could have written this. I’d figure #4 to be the most significant. What a screed in favor of Apple’s decision, as usual, to take away something something useful. As it happens, I use my headphone jack to plug into external speakers – and yes, my good studio headphones work fine with a 1/4 to 1/8 adapter – while my lightning connector accepts an external MIDI keyboard. I need both for my setup, which I hardly think is unusual. Apple has been stripping “unnecessaries” from their Mac Book/Pro line: no more optical drive, no more Ethernet. Of course, pricey adapters and externals are available for us neanderthals who still use them. The removal of the headphone jack is not the unalloyed blessing you’ve misrepresented here; it’s yet another high-handed move from a company anorexically obsessed with thinness (and profit) and all too willing to “tell us what we need.” Especially from the standpoint of a music-oriented site, this is a disappointment.

  • Lori

    I still feel like some fidelity of the music is lost with wireless. Also, I just don’t feel like I want any more unnecessary wireless signals going to my head than necessary. I wonder how the long term effects of these signals, bluetooth or not with have on the brain.

  • Danni Efraim

    I stumbled upon this post because of this sentence: “recall that there’s already an analog audio breakout as part of Lightning, meaning an adapter doesn’t even need to contain digital-to-analog circuitry.”

    Can you please provide more details on this? I find it unlikely that Apple’s $9 adapter contains a DAC and an amp when it would be so much easier to just have it in the phone and allow analog out, but I’m unable to find any more information.