The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today published an Apple patent application (via AppleInsider) covering an idea for flexible headphone connectors to avoid plug breakage and accidental equipment damage – a common complaint of many users. The patent application, which was first filed back in June 2011 and lists Albert Golko, an iPhone and iPad product development engineering manager at Apple, as its inventor, describes a system whereby:

…a portion or all of the plug connector may comprise a flexible material that allows the connector to bend with respect to an insertion axis and prevent the connector from breaking when inserted or extracted improperly.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 12.20.21 pm
The patent describes an audio connector (i.e. a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack) that is manufactured from a flexible material that allows it to bend slightly during use. The audio connectors currently in use on most devices are inflexible and offer no strain relief, meaning that any sudden force to the headphone jack risks damaging the port, which often warrants an expensive repair.

A further addition to the patent is a certain level of flexibility along the connector's length, which allows for more strain in areas that are prone to breakage, such as the tip or base of the plug. Many smartphone users are accustomed to wrapping headphones around the device, which causes an enormous amount of strain to the base of the plug. It is envisioned that Apple's patent will help reduce this slightly by providing more relief to both the headphone jack and the connector.

Although the intentions of the patent application are as of yet unclear, Apple has in the past expressed interest in improving and shrinking headphone plugs and jacks. A patent application published in 2010 outlined a headphone jack design using pogo pins rather than cantilevered metal strips for electrical contacts within the jack, a design which could allow for thinner headphone jacks. Existing audio connectors, both in the standard 3.5 mm and smaller 2.5 mm sizes, remain limiting factors in making smartphones and other devices smaller and thinner, but Apple's work toward thinner jacks and more flexible plugs could help the company achieve smaller and thinner device designs in the future.

Tag: Patent

Top Rated Comments

iMerik Avatar
141 months ago
Always improving the little things. Can't complain.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Technarchy Avatar
141 months ago
Really? This is something they spent time on?

Are you new to Apple?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FakeWozniak Avatar
141 months ago
2 words: Mini MagSafe
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jrlcopy Avatar
141 months ago
lol,

Dear Apple, you're focusing on the wrong part of the plug, the metal part that goes into the iPhone is fine, it's your cable that goes from the big plastic coupling to the cable itself. And the problem exists on ALL your cables.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
goobot Avatar
141 months ago
There is nothing wrong with the 3.5 mm head phone jack. Not everything has to be thinner. We do not want the same problem as the original iPhone!

Except all headphone jacks are going to be smaller soon, you can't use the same port forever. Technology evolves.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SvP Avatar
141 months ago
Or keep the standard we are all used to :P
Id rather not have 2 sets of headphones, 1 to use with older devices and 1 for newer ones. I also wouldnt like to worry about charging or replacing bluetooth headphone batteries.

(i do agree on BT being a bad standard tho)
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

airpods pro 2 pink

Apple Releases New AirPods Pro 2 Firmware

Tuesday May 28, 2024 11:46 am PDT by
Apple today released new firmware update for both the Lightning and USB-C versions of the AirPods Pro 2. The new firmware is version 6F7, up from the 6B34 firmware released in November. Apple does not provide details on what features might be included in the refreshed firmware beyond "bug fixes and other improvements," so it is unclear what's new in the update. Apple does not give...
maxresdefault

Report: These 10 New AI Features Are Coming in iOS 18

Sunday May 26, 2024 12:57 pm PDT by
iOS 18 and macOS 15 will offer an array of new AI features such as auto-generated emojis, suggested replies to emails and messages, and more, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. A significant portion of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is expected to focus on AI features. Writing his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman...
wwdc 2024 main image feature

Apple Confirms Time for June 10 WWDC Keynote, Shares Full Schedule

Tuesday May 28, 2024 10:21 am PDT by
Apple today shared details on the schedule that it has prepared for the 2024 Worldwide Developers Conference, which is set to take place from June 10 to June 14. While WWDC always includes a keynote, Apple has confirmed that it will be held on June 10 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. Apple is expected to announce iOS 18, iPadOS 18, macOS 15, tvOS 18, watchOS 11, and visionOS 2, and at this time,...
Apple iPhone 15 Pro lineup Action button 230912

Apple Green-Lights iPhone 16 Pro Display Production

Tuesday May 28, 2024 5:13 am PDT by
Samsung Display and LG Display have been granted approval for mass production of OLED screens for Apple's upcoming iPhone 16 Pro models, Korea's The Elec reports. Both suppliers apparently received approval earlier this month, paving the way for the commencement of mass production of screens for the iPhone 16 Pro models. While Samsung Display will supply OLED screens for all four iPhone 16...
iPad Pro Landscape Apple Logo Feature

Apple Says Future iPads Could Feature Landscape Apple Logo

Monday May 27, 2024 6:31 am PDT by
French website Numerama interviewed three senior Apple employees about the new iPad Pro models that launched earlier this month. While the discussion did not reveal many new details, it did mention one potential change for future iPads. While the Apple logo on the back of iPads is positioned so that it appears upright in vertical orientation, the devices are often used in landscape...