Apple unveiled its new iPhone 7 models last week and heading into the press conference the speculation was Apple was going to part ways with traditional headphone jacks.
The rumours were true, and Apple ditched the headphone port. Apple decided to remove the headphone jack to push out their new wireless headphones, AirPods, while making the iPhone thinner, more waterproof and dust-resistant.
But what does this mean for users who have already purchased expensive third-party headphones like Beats or BOSE? Apple does include a headphone adapter that plugs into the Lightning port, but this means you cannot charge your phone while using it.
Michael Kukielka, a YouTube tech reviewer says despite an outcry from users, there could be a technological advantage to Apple’s Lightning headphones.
“There is the potential for improved convenience and quality with lightning-connected headphones since it provides more power, so it can drive higher-quality headphones, power noise cancellation headphones, and channel higher-quality digital signals,” Kukielka says.
If users want to avoid the headphone jack, they can go wireless by purchasing third-party headphones that connect via Bluetooth. Apple will have its AirPods on shelves later this month, but they will cost an additional $219 and some users may not like the option to go wireless. With wireless headphones, there is always the risk of connection interruptions, unlike traditional wired headphones. Also, the headphones are another thing that has to be re-charged, and some audiophiles look down on the audio quality provided through Bluetooth.
But Kukielka disagrees: “For most users, Bluetooth Audio is indistinguishable from connected audio, even if there is the potential for lower quality because the bandwidth requires more compression. I think the biggest differentiator between headphones is not the connection but the headphones themselves and the source quality. The connection standards are otherwise a non-issue considering the other variables.”
Some tech writers have suggested the change could push customers ato rival companies, which will still support their expensive headphones.
“I do think the change is scaring some users away,” says Kukielka. “I think Apple knows that iPhone users are fiercely loyal to the iPhone and the inconvenience of moving into another ecosystem and abandoning their iTunes/App purchases is a far bigger headache than migrating to new headphone connections.”
Although the changes might scare some people away, Kukielka says this should not be an issue once customers start seeing more Lightning-connected headphones.
“I think the word will get out that it’s not really an issue, especially once headphones with Lightning connectors become more common.”
The iPhone 7 is out now.