Apple is planning to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack on the next-generation iPhone in favor of an all-in-one Lightning connector, according to often-reliable Japanese website Mac Otakara
. Apple may also release Lightning-equipped EarPods to support the new audio output on future iOS devices.
The report, citing a "reliable source," claims the new same-sized Lightning connector will support Lightning-equipped and Bluetooth headphones, and have a DAC, or digital-to-audio converter, for backwards compatibility with wired headphones using standard 3.5mm stereo jacks. A 3.5mm to Lightning adapter would be required.
The so-called "iPhone 7" will likely be more than 1mm thinner than the 7.1mm thick iPhone 6s as a result, according to the report. The sixth-generation iPod touch could be a comparable device, with a depth of 6.1mm, but the portable media player still has a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Apple will also reportedly release Lightning-equipped EarPods, which would likely be included in the box alongside the iPhone 7 and sold separately for use with other future iOS devices. Apple's current EarPods with a 3.5mm stereo jack will presumably remain available for purchase afterwards for the foreseeable future.
Apple introduced new MFi Program specifications
in June 2014 that allow third-party manufacturers to create headphones that connect to iOS devices via a Lightning cable, but the rollout has been slow. Philips has unveiled Lightning-equipped Fidelio M2L
and Fidelio NC1L
headphones over the past 14 months.
Should this rumor prove to be true, Apple's decision to switch to an all-in-one Lightning connector for charging and audio output could face the same kind of controversy as when the company retired its proprietary 30-pin dock connector in favor of a smaller Lightning connector starting with the iPhone 5 in 2012.