iPhone 7: What an iPhone with no headphone jack means for consumers

Click to play video: 'Apple removes headphone jack in iPhone 7, as expected'
Apple removes headphone jack in iPhone 7, as expected
Apple removes headphone jack in iPhone 7, as expected – Sep 7, 2016

Apple‘s new Iphone 7 is missing something: The 3.5 millimetre headphone jack has been a staple in consumer electronics devices for more than 30 years.

READ MORE: Apple unveils iPhone 7 and 7 Plus without a headphone jack

During its annual fall press event Wednesday, the tech giant announced it had ditched the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 to create more space for new components and deliver a better wireless experience – a revelation many iPhone users were not happy with.

While the new iPhone will come equipped with a pair of headphones that connect through the phone’s lightning charger port – and the option of buying new Apple branded wireless AirPods – the exclusion of the traditional headphone may not seem like the most consumer friendly move.

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Upgrading to an iPhone 7 will be very costly for anyone who has invested money into buying accessories that connect to their phone using the headphone jack – that includes external microphones, recording devices and expensive high quality headphones. While the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will come with an adapter that allows users to plug in their analogue devices, some pointed out the accessory will make things a little bulky.

READ MORE: Apple announces water-resistant Apple Watch S2

However, Neil Bearse, director of marketing at Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business, believes the initial outrage over the headphone jack will eventually be overlooked.

“With each excessive outrage we’ve seen over these types of changes, looking back at it we see that a lot was made out of nothing and it didn’t affect our lives that much,” Bearse said.

The marketing expert noted that when computer manufacturers decided to part ways with floppy discs and CD-ROMs, users were up in arms about how they were going to store their files. But, soon enough, no one could imagine a world without USB sticks and while embracing the cloud took some time, many love the convenience of accessing their files remotely.

“[The headphone jack] is something that we’ve all fallen in love with because it’s all we’ve ever had,” he said.

“Bluetooth headphones may not be quite ready yet – but Dropbox wasn’t ready when Apple dropped the floppy disc and now [Dropbox] is something we can’t live without.”
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Apple isn’t the first to release a phone without a headphone jack. In July, Motorola unveiled the Moto Z, which only features a USB-C port.

Bearse pointed out that Apple stands to benefit from a surge in Bluetooth headphone sales, too. The tech giant owns Beats – one of the most popular headphone companies in the world, which just happens to manufacture many Bluetooth models.

There are some overlooked benefits to the change – not only does the design allow for a thinner more durable iPhone, but fewer open ports means less opportunity for things like water and physical damage to occur.

READ MORE: Apple just revealed the iPhone7 is water-resistant by accident

For audiophiles, the move away from traditional audio connections may be a selling point.

You see, any device with that 3.5mm connection uses analog audio. Your phone, however, uses digital audio. So, when you plug your headphones into your smartphone, it uses what’s called a digital analog converter (DAC) and an amplifier to allow you to hear the audio stored on your phone.

As Engadget explains it, “The DAC converts the signal from ones and zeros to waves, and the amplifier makes those waves audible through a speaker or headphones.”

The problem is you lose some sound quality during this process.

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Headphones that connect through Apple’s Lightning port already exist on the market and some suggest that these models actually provide better sound quality.

Apple news site MacRumours tested three Lightning headphone models – all ranging in price and quality – to compare how they sounded to headphones plugged into the 3.5mm port and found that all three models sounded better than traditional headphones.

But, once again, this provides a problem for the consumer – lightning headphones can only be used with an iPhone or iPad. You won’t be able to use these devices to listen to music on your computer, or reuse them if you should switch to another smartphone model.

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