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Apple executives also believe the headphone jack is outdated technology that needed to go to make room for new advancements.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
64 months ago
Then how does the Samsung maintain the water resistance when it has a headphone jack?
Score: 191 Votes (Like | Disagree)
apolloa Avatar
64 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
64 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
64 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
64 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
64 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

General Apps Messages

All Three Major U.S. Carriers and Google Adopt Rich Communication Services, But No Sign of Apple Interest

Tuesday July 20, 2021 1:15 pm PDT by
For the last several years, Google has been pushing a new communications protocol called Rich Communication Services, or RCS. RCS is designed to replace SMS, the current text message standard, and it offers support for higher resolution photos and videos, audio messages, bigger file sizes, better encryption, improved group chat, and more. Verizon today announced that it is planning to adopt...
AirPods Pro Beta Firmware

AirPods Pro Beta Firmware Now Available

Wednesday July 21, 2021 6:50 am PDT by
Upcoming AirPods Pro firmware updates are now available to Apple Developer Program members as beta versions. AirPods Pro firmware beta one features FaceTime Spatial Audio and Ambient Noise Reduction. Custom Transparency mode, including Conversation Boost, was initially expected to be included in the beta but appears to have been delayed for a later version. Apple made the announcement...
maxresdefault

Apple Music to Livestream Premiere of Kanye West's New Album 'Donda' on Thursday

Wednesday July 21, 2021 1:49 am PDT by
Apple Music on Thursday will host a global livestream for the premiere of Kanye West's tenth studio album, titled "Donda." The sold-out event will take place at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, and Apple Music's livestream will start at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The livestream was revealed in a Beats Studio Buds ad that aired during the NBA Finals. The ad features U.S. track...
ios wifi settings

Apple Confirms iOS 14.7 Fixes WiFi Bug and Many Other Vulnerabilities

Wednesday July 21, 2021 11:38 am PDT by
Following the release of iPadOS 14.7 this morning, Apple has shared details on the security updates that are included in iOS 14.7, iPadOS 14.7, macOS Big Sur 11.5, watchOS 7.6, and tvOS 14.7, all of which came out this week. Notably, Apple's documentation confirms that the iOS 14.7 and iPadOS 14.7 updates address a WiFi-related vulnerability that could impact iOS devices when joining a...
16 inch macbook pro m2 render

Gurman: Redesigned MacBook Pros to Launch Between September and November

Sunday July 18, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
Apple can be expected to release its redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros sometime between September and November, as part of another packed fall season for new product launches, according to Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman says that the new MacBook Pros will go into production in the third quarter and can be expected to be...
macOS Malware Feature

Common Windows Malware Can Now Infect Macs

Wednesday July 21, 2021 8:13 am PDT by
A common form of malware on Windows systems has been modified into a new strain called "XLoader" that can also target macOS (via Bleeping Computer). Derived from the Formbook info-stealer for Windows, XLoader is a form of cross-platform malware advertised as a botnet with no dependencies. It is used to steal login credentials, capture screenshots, log keystrokes, and execute malicious files. ...
magsafe battery pack solo

Hands-On With Apple's MagSafe Battery Pack

Tuesday July 20, 2021 11:14 am PDT by
The new MagSafe Battery Pack that Apple debuted this week is arriving to customers starting today and it's also now available for in-store pickup in many Apple retail locations around the world. We snagged one this morning and thought we'd take a look at it to let MacRumors readers know if it's worth the $99 asking price. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. As the name ...
macOS Big Sur Feature Orange

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.5 With Podcast App Updates and Bug Fixes

Wednesday July 21, 2021 10:15 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.5, the fifth major update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November 2020. macOS Big Sur 11.5 comes two months after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.4. The new ‌‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌‌ 11.5 update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences. macOS Big Sur...
apple tv 4k design green

Apple Releases tvOS 14.7 for Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K

Monday July 19, 2021 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today released tvOS 14.7, the seventh update to the tvOS 14 operating system that initially debuted in September 2020. tvOS 14.7 comes two months after the launch of the tvOS 14.6 update. tvOS 14.7, which is a free update, can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the Apple TV by going to System > Software Update. ‌‌Apple TV‌‌ owners who have automatic software ...
ipad pro m1 feature

Apple Releases iPadOS 14.7 With Apple Card Merging Option, Fix for 3.5mm Headphone Jack to USB-C Adapter Bug

Wednesday July 21, 2021 10:18 am PDT by
Apple today released iPadOS 14.7, marking the seventh major update to the iPadOS operating system that came out in September 2020. Apple already released iOS 14.7 on July 19, but for some reason, delayed the iPadOS 14.7 debut until today. The iPadOS 14.7 update can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new ...