This fall’s new iPhone is strongly rumored to have nearly the same physical design as the iPhone 6 and 6S, but with the headphone jack removed. Many have guessed the possible justifications for such a move:
- Jason Snell’s great rundown and rebuttal of all currently known justifications
- John Gruber and I discussed it on The Talk Show (topic begins at 1:00:19)
In short: There may be a great reason why the headphone jack must be removed on an iPhone that isn’t getting a noteworthy size change or battery-life increase, but we haven’t heard one yet.
There are clear benefits to Apple — minor savings in parts and internal complexity, some profit from adapters and Lightning licensing, and driving a big Beats upgrade cycle — but nobody has come up with any compelling benefits for customers that require removing the headphone jack and can’t already be done in today’s iPhones.
People already think Apple changes ports capriciously and slows down their phone with OS updates just to force upgrades and make more money, even when they actually have good reasons that benefit their products and customers. I suspect that the reaction to removing the headphone jack will be even more severe in this way than the Dock-to-Lightning transition.
Apple better have very good benefits for this that customers will want, but none of the reports so far indicate any.
Combined with the disappointment sure to result from the same physical iPhone design for three years in a row — a mediocre one, at that — I fear for the public perception of this fall’s iPhone and Apple as a result.
It’s too late to change anything about this year’s iPhone hardware, but if this is true, I hope Apple at least reduces the perception damage by including a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter in the box along with the new Lightning EarPods, and also selling the adapter separately for just $9.99. That would go a long way toward alleviating the problem.