Apple's intention to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack from this year's iPhone 7 has been a well-publicized rumor since last November, with the widespread belief that the company would use a Lightning port to provide both charging and as a source for audio output on 2016's iPhone. Today, however, Chinese company LeEco announced a line of smartphones that will beat Apple's rumored removal of the 3.5mm headphone port, instead opting for a USB-C input (via Engadget).
LeEco also has its hands in product categories like smart TVs and electric cars, with offices in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, but the company keeps most of its smartphone business focused locally in China. The new line of smartphones -- dubbed the Le 2, Le 2 Pro, and Le Max 2 -- will run the Android operating system, and users will be able to purchase either in-ear or over-ear USB-C headphones to go with the new phones. No specific plans were divulged, but LeEco noted that it intends to bring "at least one" of the devices stateside in 2016.
Similar to other Android devices like the Nexus 6P and the Huawei Mate S, all three of LeEco's new devices have a rear-facing fingerprint scanner to allow access into the smartphone. Each version has a slightly curved backside that flows into chamfered edges and an edge-to-edge, "borderless" display, all housed in a metallic body.
The Le 2 and Le 2 Pro are analogues of the iPhone 6s Plus, featuring 5.5 inch, 1080p displays, but coming in slightly above Apple's 2750 mAh battery at 3000 mAh. Understandably, the Le 2 Pro stacks up better against the Le 2 in a few categories: it has a 21-megapixel rear-facing Sony IMX230 sensor and 4GB of RAM, whereas the Le 2 packs a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera and 3GB of RAM. The Le 2 will cost 1,099 yuan ($170), while the Pro version will run for 1,499 yuan ($230).
The Le Max 2 has a bigger screen than the other two devices at 5.7 inches, and includes Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 820 processor, a more "advanced ultrasonic" fingerprint scanner, and a bigger 3100 mAh battery. That's in addition to optical image stabalization, increased storage capacity options, and a total of 6GB of RAM. A 32GB storage option of the Le Max 2 (with a lesser 4GB of RAM) will cost users 2,099 yuan ($325), while the increased storage of 64GB (and 6GB of RAM) will sell for 2,499 yuan ($390). Pre-orders for all three smartphones began today in China.
Although nothing has been confirmed this far out from the iPhone 7 event, which will most likely take place in September, recent rumors have suggested Apple could ship Lightning-enabled EarPods with the smartphone to ready users for a new shift in headphone inputs. One report suggested recently that the company might even adopt Bluetooth-enabled headphones for the iPhone 7 to free up the Lightning port when listening to music, but still be able to charge the wireless EarPods through the iPhone when they run low on battery.