Removal of iPhone 7 Headphone Jack Was Essential for Water Resistance, New Camera System

Apple removed the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, a controversial decision that's upset some iPhone fans. On stage at today's media event, Apple executives explained that it had been done to save space and to usher in improvements in wireless headphone technology, but in an interview with BuzzFeed, Apple's Greg Joswiak, Dan Riccio, and Phil Schiller explained in much greater detail why the decision was made to move away from the 3.5mm headphone jack.

The idea for the removal of the headphone jack was raised during the development of the iPhone 7. In a nutshell, the "driver ledge" for the display and backlight, traditionally placed near the camera, was interfering with the new camera systems in the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, leading Apple to explore other placement options. It was moved near the audio jack, but it also caused interference with various components, including the audio jack itself, so Apple engineers toyed with the elimination of the jack altogether.

iphone7plusairpods
When the headphone jack was removed, Apple realized it was easier to install the new Taptic Engine for the pressure-sensitive Home button, implement a bigger battery, and reach an IP7 water resistance rating, so the elimination of the headphone jack became essential for all of the other features in the iPhone 7.

Apple executives also believe the headphone jack is outdated technology that needed to go to make room for new advancements. According to Dan Riccio, it was holding Apple back "from a number of things" the company wanted to add to the iPhone, taking up space that could be used for camera improvements, battery, and processors.

"The audio connector is more than 100 years old," Joswiak says. "It had its last big innovation about 50 years ago. You know what that was? They made it smaller. It hasn't been touched since then. It's a dinosaur. It's time to move on." [...]

For Dan Riccio, Apple's senior vice president of hardware engineering, the iPhone's 3.5-millimeter audio jack has felt something like the last months of an ill-fated if amicable relationship: familiar and comfortable, but ultimately an impediment to a better life ahead. "We've got this 50-year-old connector -- just a hole filled with air -- and it's just sitting there taking up space, really valuable space," he says.

According to Apple's Phil Schiller, there's no ulterior motive behind the move away from the 3.5mm headphone jack. "We are removing the audio jack because we have developed a better way to deliver audio. It has nothing to do with content management or DRM -- that's pure, paranoid conspiracy theory," he said.

To ease the transition away from the 3.5mm headphone jack, Apple is including a 3.5mm to Lightning adapter with every iPhone 7 and it is also offering EarPods with a Lightning connector. Apple's new AirPods, which are fully wireless and are priced at $159, will also make it easier for customers to adapt to a device without a jack.

On the subject of Apple's new AirPods, Apple's Schiller says the earbuds, which are "as advanced a project as Apple Pencil," have been in development since the Apple Watch was conceived. "We knew we needed a great wireless solution for audio," he said. "What if you could design what the future of headphones should look like?' That's we asked the team to do."

The full explanation for the removal of the headphone jack, which is well worth reading, is available over at BuzzFeed.

Top Rated Comments

zphillippy Avatar
57 months ago
Then how does the Samsung maintain the water resistance when it has a headphone jack?
Score: 191 Votes (Like | Disagree)
apolloa Avatar
57 months ago
Oh right, so I guess Sony are frigin technical geniuses then as they managed to make water proof headphone ports YEARS AGO!!!

If Apple are that inept at technical design, I highly suggest they hire some of Sonys mobile division engineers...

Or basically Apple is talking UTTER BS to give excuses for ditching the headphone jack which is far more likely..

Apple truely really are getting more and more arrogant and treating its customers with more and more contempt as the years role on.
Score: 81 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BeSweeet Avatar
57 months ago
Still don't understand why people are comparing this to things like the removal of the floppy disk and cassette players. Each of those things were replaced by better technologies. Ditching a wired technology with a wireless one isn't the same thing, but rather something that complements existing things. For example, Wi-Fi isn't a replacement for Ethernet, for without Ethernet, you generally wouldn't have Wi-Fi.

From the interview, it just sounds like Apple couldn't fix a supposed issue that they were having. Were they telling the truth, or was it lazy engineering? We'll never truly know.

There was literally nothing wrong with the 3.5mm jack.
Score: 79 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KidAKidB Avatar
57 months ago
So how did Samsung manage to get an even higher water resistance certification and still keep the headphone jack?
Score: 74 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ScottishCaptain Avatar
57 months ago
Pure ****ing ********.

If their phones weren't so goddam thin, they wouldn't have this problem.

They are now making up blatant excuses for their poor design decisions.

-SC
Score: 73 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HobeSoundDarryl Avatar
57 months ago

Apple executives also believe the headphone jack is outdated technology that needed to go to make room for new advancements. According to Dan Riccio, it was holding Apple back "from a number of things" the company wanted to add to the iPhone, taking up space that could be used for camera improvements, battery, and processors.

Of course, Apple could also drop the preoccupation with "thinner" and created the room for all of that and KEPT the headphone jack. 2 apparently great wants of iPhone buyers:

* More battery
* Get rid of the protruding wart

Rather than ejecting thoroughly ubiquitous utility to "free up "very valuable space," a modestly thicker iPhone could have accomplished the same. I pretty much never see, hear, meet anyone clamoring for "thinner." Now apparently "thinner" comes at a price of kicking utility OUT to accessories.

But spin it fellas... spin it. "Thinner" is essential so the headphone jack had to go so that other stuff could fit. That was our only option.:rolleyes:

Now what shall we kick out to an accessory next year to create room for "more innovation" in what must be an even "thinner" iPhone? You know, that battery takes up most of the space, it's an even OLDER technology than the headphone jack and people already buy battery cases anyway. Hmmmm.
Score: 59 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

lg wing

LG Considering Exit From Smartphone Business, Halts LCD Production for iPhone

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:38 am PST by
LG is considering exiting the smartphone business entirely amid declining shipments and accrued losses of $4.5 billion over the past five years (via The Korea Herald). LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok cautioned staff earlier today that the company is re-evaluating its presence in the smartphone industry: Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about...
google maps detailed street level e1611052089473

Google Maps Gains Enhanced Street-Level Detail in Four Major Cities

Tuesday January 19, 2021 2:34 am PST by
Google Maps has quietly been updated to include significantly more detailed street-level information in a handful of key cities around the world. Upon zooming in, Google's maps for Central London, Tokyo, San Francisco, and New York now benefit from shapes and widths that match the scale of roads more accurately. Meanwhile, enhanced graphical representations of sidewalks, crosswalks,...
2019 mac pro side and front

Tim Cook Gifted Donald Trump 'First' 2019 Mac Pro

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:45 pm PST by
Apple CEO Tim Cook gifted former United States President Donald Trump with the first 2019 Mac Pro that came off of the assembly line in Austin, Texas, according to a financial disclosure report that was released today (via The Verge). "Mac Pro Computer, the first created at the Flex Factory in Austin, Texas," reads the entry, which values the machine at $5,999, the base price for a Mac Pro....
airpods max sim ejector

AirPods Max Headband Removable With Just a SIM Ejector Tool, Hinting at Interchangeable Headbands

Tuesday January 19, 2021 8:25 am PST by
It is possible to remove the headband of AirPods Max with just a standard SIM card ejector tool, hinting at the possibility of interchanging headbands to achieve a different colorway. Image via Prelook In December, MacRumors revealed the large variety of AirPods Max ear cushion color combinations when it became clear that they were magnetically attatched and available for sale separately....
iphone 5s black slate

Images of Unreleased iPhone 5s in Black and Slate Shared Online

Sunday January 17, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today shared images of a prototype iPhone 5s in an unreleased Black and Slate color. The iPhone 5s was launched in September 2013. The device featured Touch ID, a 64-bit processor, and a True Tone LED flash for the first time. Other new features included a five-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 15 percent larger camera sensor, Burst Mode, and Slo-Mo...
iphone 12 vs iphone 12 mini

Apple Shifting Some Production From iPhone 12 mini to iPhone 12 Pro to Meet Demand

Wednesday January 20, 2021 8:12 am PST by
Apple has reportedly cut production of the iPhone 12 mini by two million units to create more manufacturing capacity for the iPhone 12 Pro, according to a new Morgan Stanley investment note seen by PED30. Apple is believed to have made the switch for the first quarter of 2021 in an effort to combat continuing lead times for the more popular iPhone 12 Pro. iPhone 12 Pro lead times remain ...
Apple VR Feature

Bloomberg: Apple's First AR/VR Headset 'Pricey, Niche Precursor' to More Ambitious AR Glasses and Could Launch Next Year

Thursday January 21, 2021 3:27 am PST by
Apple's first virtual reality headset will be a "pricey, niche precursor" to a more ambitious augmented reality product, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. As a mostly virtual reality device, it will display an all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating. AR functionality, the ability to overlay images and information over a view...
shot on iphone 12 apple

Apple Highlights Photos Shot by iPhone 12 Users: Portraits, Cityscapes, and More

Tuesday January 19, 2021 6:05 am PST by
Apple today shared a gallery of photos shot by customers using the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, with scenes including cityscapes, landscapes, portraits of people, and more at day and night. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by "NKCHU" in China (top) and shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by Rohit Vohra in India (bottom) iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 models have a dual camera ...
Apple and Hyundai feature

Apple Car Production Again Linked to Kia Motor's US Plant in Georgia

Tuesday January 19, 2021 4:19 am PST by
Hyundai intends to transition the company's Apple Car involvement to its Kia brand as part of an internal arrangement that could see production move to the U.S., according to a new report today. On Sunday, Korea IT News reported that Apple and Hyundai are seeking a partnership agreement for the upcoming Apple Car by March, and that the electric vehicles could be made at a Georgia factory...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature

iPhone 13 Rumored to Feature Smaller Notch, Pro Model Cameras to Use Larger Image Sensor

Thursday January 21, 2021 1:38 am PST by
Apple's iPhone 13 series will feature a redesigned Face ID system that will allow for a smaller notch at the top of the screen, according to a new report today. The rumor comes via hit-and-miss Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, whose supply chain sources also claim that the ultra wide-angle lens in Apple's next-generation iPhones is due for an upgrade. The next-generation iPhones'...