Apple granted patent for computerized headphones that spell the 3.5mm jack's demise

Apple granted patent for computerized headphones that spell the 3.5mm jack's demise
According to this patent application uploaded by the USPTO, Apple has geared up for the supposedly 3.5mm jack-less near future of the iPhone by designing a wireless hybrid headphone system. Although the patent drawings portray it as a generic closed back pair of headphones, the thing definitely has a trick or two to surprise you with!

Rather than the common 3.5mm plug, the invention uses a cable and connector which transmit both digital and analog signals. This lets a single cable charge and control the device at the same time, which is convenient and removes the risk of ground loops interfering with audio quality. If the user were to charge the device through the Lighting port and listen to music through the 3.5mm jack, the risk of ground loops is much higher. 

Also, note that the first patent drawing shows the headphones connected to what looks like a typical stereo jack. However, the 3.5mm jack on newer iPhones is positioned on the bottom. The drawing actually depicts a cable connected via a special "headphone connector" which, according to Apple, can be "a USB connector, a SATA connector, or any other desired connector."

Additionally, the headphones contain a small computer with its own battery, processor, memory, and antenna. The mini-computer is used to authenticate the high-end cans before the paired device and buffer incoming audio, which enables seamless switching between wired and wireless sound with no drop-outs. Likewise, the antenna lets them transmit and receive wireless signals while they are being charged over the wired cable connection.

Apple will be able to fit this technology in in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear styles which means the next iPhone could be bundled with a pair of revamped EarPods that connect both ways. The patent was first filled for in October 2014, which means the gang at Cupertino has had plenty of time to test things through and could be ready to surprise music fans in September, which is when new iPhones are traditionally announced.


source: USPTO via AppleInsider

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93 Comments

1. shaineql

Posts: 521; Member since: Apr 28, 2014

Its time , all must agree. 3.5mm jacks , cmon thats so old tech..

5. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3944; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Don't even try, people on this site really don't like change, especially if its Apple who is proposing the change. Their going to give the whole 3.5mm jack gets the job done BS.

6. 87186

Posts: 312; Member since: Aug 01, 2014

I am an audio engineer, and will tell you FIRST hand that 1 1/4 and 3.5mm is measurement that is heavily relied on. for people who JUST stream or do minimal in terms of audio wont realize how ridiculous this is. this isn't about change, this is just another lame attempt from Apple to sell you more accessories by claiming certain tech in antiquated. you call it BS, when people in the field would call you ill-informed.

9. Finalflash

Posts: 4062; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

It would be fine if Apple used a standard in the industry to change to, but it becomes a down right stupid change when they do it with useless crap like the "lightning connector". If by some miracle they use USB C or something, I will be totally on board with this change.

73. AlikMalix unregistered

@FF, and others that agree with him - you're absolutely right, but isn't it time to make wireless a standard? The old 3.5mm Jack is standard because no one is pushing for something more versatile. Yes, I'm not completely in denial that there might be some loss of quality at first, but nothing improves unless the industry is pushed by someone - which happens to be Apple in this category. I can already tell you that with distances that you get with a wire, BT quality is very close if not exact - it's only when you step back 30ft from the sourse when wuality of sounds starts to drop - but you're not gonna achieve distances like 40ft with your headphones - and it will loose quality if you use and extension anyway. Everything is going wireless, just like everything moved to digital a whole back - as it stands the software has to convert digital data to analog just to use the 3.5 Jack - which at this point is actually moving backwards. Are you also going to complain when devices start loosing charging ports when/if they figure out how to charge our devices continuously over the air (real wirelessly). I no longer plug my iPhone to update, setup, or transfer files TO and FROM my iPhone. Besides according to description above - data will be cached for better quality and proverb interruption - which seems like an innovative solution to the pet-peeves of Wireless nick-nacks. Horses were standard type of transportation and having "horseless carriage" was awkward - by your stance we shouldn't have got into automotive business because there's inadequate infrastructure for it. People that complain about moving to wireless headphones - enjoy your horse and carriage - Im happy I drive a Porsche.

88. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

Why wired is preferable is because no one want to deal with; 1.charging your BT headphone 2. Make headphones heavier 3.it cost more 4.quality 5.most hi-end headphones is wired because the reason above, so no quality headphone for iphone user except if they buy another adapter from apple.

89. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

Porsche? Lol no! , for now you can only taste mediocre quality of BT headphones. Only a few of BT headphones are of high quality one.

92. AlikMalix unregistered

@medtxa It was more of a reference that if we stuck to horse and carriage - we wouldn't enjoy cars like Porsche. You missed the point.

16. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Just give it to Apple. For once, audiophiles never chose iDevices as their top of the line music source. They dont care about innovations anymore. They innovate to remove the 3.5mm.

21. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

yeah right, they just dont care about sound quality, just like beat, lol..

70. 2.5GHz

Posts: 270; Member since: Apr 03, 2016

Not only sound quality, they do not care about any thing else. The Apple logo is everything for them, nothing else matters.

17. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3944; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

I'm ill-informed huh lol I never said the 3.5mm headphone jack should be abandoned. Apple is creating products for mobile and for mobile what they are proposing is good, getting rid of the headphone jack is freeing up a lot of useful space that will be put to good use. No way am I saying the equipment in recording studios and other places where professional audio equipment is being used should they switch from 3.5mm and 6.25mm jack to what Apple is proposing in the patents. Don't attack me like I just called your favorite pair of headphone obsolete and threw them in the trash.

22. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

Audio industry doesn't follow apple standard. You just attack audiophiles of apple fan!

43. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The headphone jack doesn't take up any space. You're just full of protectionism for Apple. Give me an example of what you can put inside the phone, that there isn't space for already?

50. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3944; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

A bigger batter and better airflow for heat dissipation or 2 things that come to mind.

57. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Well just make the phone 2mm thicker and you can put all those easily. The trend of ultra thin phone thats are easy to break is a good way marketing brainwashed many ppl. Do you really need thinner phone nope you need better battery way before thinner phone.

69. TheUnbiasedGuy

Posts: 50; Member since: Apr 21, 2016

No offense but they can do both things easily by increasing the thickness by just 2-3 mm.The headphone Jack doesn't need to go,its like finding a solution whose problem doesn't exist

83. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3944; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

A bigger battery and better airflow for heat dissipation are two things that come to mind******** My spelling and grammar has been shaky today lol.

56. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Arch_Fiend Apple not creating products for mobile they creating product for iphone BIG difference meaning they are ignoring 80% of the market thats dont use iphone! Also they are like Final saying trying to make you buy more accessories.. You are not saying our favorite pair of headphone are obsolete but Apple is strongly trying to!

81. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3944; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

So!!!

24. Ahovking

Posts: 711; Member since: Feb 03, 2015

Attempt from Apple to sell you more accessories? what a load of BS.. You know people would've said the same thing about when apple replaced the floppy drive with the CD-ROM. No doubt if we were back in the early days of computing you would of been one of those people who said apple's abandoning of the floppy drive for the CD-ROM was just another lame attempt to sell you more accessories. anyway no one is saying wireless is better than wired, however for the average consumer i doubt many if any would care or could tell the difference as i had difficulty telling the difference (although i could still tell which one was which), Keep in mind, Apple isn’t the only company that is moving away from the jake although, they are by far the largest. Eventually wireless will overtake wired, but it will take time, time that would be spend up, if companies like apple would adopt them, and 3rd parties start developing their own as we have ready seen. What Apple is look like their doing is giving you the option of having them either wireless or wired, no doubt because of people who depend of Apple products for jobs that require wired level quality.

31. belovedson

Posts: 1060; Member since: Nov 30, 2010

listen bub go to head-fi do some research. compare bluetooth and wireless tech to wired. You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. wireless has a long way's to go to catch up to wired headphones. do some research and don't let apple do them for you.

32. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1182; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

This is not about wired and wireless, the article already mentions some kind of splitter which would let you use a single port for charging and wired headphone connection, so WTF is your problem?

60. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Problem is to make this work you will have to buy those headphone... See the point here?

78. Ahovking

Posts: 711; Member since: Feb 03, 2015

Whats your point? I can already buy lighting port headphones for $20 at my local grocery store.. and the same thing will happen with these new headphones.

95. 2.5GHz

Posts: 270; Member since: Apr 03, 2016

But the audio quality over wireless headphones sucks. Wired is still better.

61. michaelny2001

Posts: 319; Member since: Aug 01, 2012

problem is that is bought $300 bose headphones or sennheiser and they can no longer be used. Watch how iphone 7 will have the slowest adoption compared to any other iphone ever made. Mark my words, we'll talk about it when phonearena will write about it fairly soon.

77. Ahovking

Posts: 711; Member since: Feb 03, 2015

Like i said no one is saying wireless is better than wired, however for the average consumer i doubt many if any would care or could tell the difference as i had difficulty telling the difference (although i could still tell which one was which). Googe blind tests and you will find that people can tell the diffrence but he quality is very close, so close that some have a lot of difficulty telling which one is which. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLjPt0oI2ZA Like @AlikMalix said "The old 3.5mm Jack is standard because no one is pushing for something more versatile. Yes, I'm not completely in denial that there might be some loss of quality at first, but nothing improves unless the industry is pushed by someone"

91. k4ever

Posts: 240; Member since: Oct 08, 2014

Give it up! The fact that he/she uses Apple products should tell you that he/she doesn't like to do research and believes just about anything that Apple says.

34. tedkord

Posts: 17131; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

No, people wouldn't have said it, because the CD was superior to floppies in every way.

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