Here is why Apple removed the 3.5mm headset jack from the new iPhone 7


There are quite a few changes and improvements in the iPhone 7, but the most radical and polarizing one is without a doubt the lack of a 3.5mm headset jack, the standard that we've been using with out headphones and stereo systems in the last few decades.

A change of massive proportions, the removal of the 3.5mm headset jack is something that will affect everyone: from those audiophiles who have spend hundreds of dollars on expensive headphones and obsessing over music quality to your regular users trying to hook up an iPhone to their home stereo or their old car audio player via an AUX port (not possible anymore without an adapter). Apple itself admits this willingly, saying that it took courage to remove such a widely used port.

So why did it do it?


Interestingly, it all started with a new and better camera. It was also a much larger camera than before. The reason for that is the addition of optical image stabilization, and with the growing size of the camera, the hardware engineering team at Apple had to look for a place to move one other key component, the 'driver ledge', a tiny circuit board that controls the iPhone's display and backlight. Traditionally positioned at the top of the phone, out of the battery's way, it now had to find a new place.

The best place that the team found for it was at the bottom, but there was conflict: the 3.5mm headset jack interfered with the space required to put the driver ledge there.

Then, the unthinkable happened: the team decided to try and see what would happen if it removed the audio jack. A number of benefits showed up: the taptic engine was now easier to install. But then, engineers realized it was possible to also increase the size of the battery, a feature that practically every iPhone users has requested at a certain period in time. In fact, the iPhone 7 battery is now 14% bigger than the one on the 6s, while for the 7 Plus that growth amounts to 5%.


Thirdly, removing the audio jack removed one of the biggest obstacles towards making the iPhone waterproof: it was a point of ingress and removing it made it possible to water-proof the phone.

"It was holding us back from a number of things we wanted to put into the iPhone," Apple senior VP of hardware engineering Dan Riccio says."It was fighting for space with camera technologies and processors and battery life. And frankly, when there’s a better, modern solution available, it’s crazy to keep it around."

So there you have it: three big reasons for removing the 3.5mm headset jack, the possibility of a much larger and better, optically stabilized camera, the larger battery and the water-proofing of the phone.


Interestingly, though, Apple never mentioned anything about sound quality during its presentation. Sure, you can use wired headphones via the Lightning port that can do some cool tricks like user-adjustable noise cancellation. And yes, the company also wants you to buy its new $160 AirPods completely wireless headphones, but if you were thinking that the main reason behind the removal of the 3.5mm headset jack is vastly improved audio quality... well, at least Apple is not mentioning this at all as a reason.

And with our homes, cars and all sorts of gadgets equipped with that good old 3.5mm jack, it would be a very tough transition. Nonetheless, if we dared look in the future and imagine the perfect set of headphones there - a task that Apple put forth to its engineers - we likely also would have imagined something cool and wireless. Until that future arrives, though, Apple is putting a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter in every iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus box. Even Apple is not that courageous to leave its users without that option at the moment.

reference: Apple, Buzzfeed

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211 Comments

1. bobby84

Posts: 595; Member since: May 13, 2016

To sell you a adapter they know you will lose it or sell you new headphones. Same reason they make the product proprietary. Those lightning headphones and wireless headphones will still work even if you had a headphone jack.

9. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

The problem with keeping the headphone jack there is that people will keep using it just. You can't move forward like that. With that said, wireless headsets have taken over wired in the last year. The shift was happening already. Apple is just giving it a much needed push! Honestly at this point, you should at least have a pair of wireless headsets with a removable wire. Its the best of both worlds.

12. tedkord

Posts: 17198; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

It's not moving forward if there isn't a better solution to replace it. In this instance, there isn't. This was a money move, solely.

45. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Prove it.

49. tedkord

Posts: 17198; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

The proof is in the fact that it wasn't replaced by a better technology.

83. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Stereo sound. A better camera. Waterproofing. I don't see you giving Samsung grief from removing the SD card slot on the Note 5, a device you claim has high customer satisfaction. You're just hating on Apple just because Samsung botched the Note 7 release with a dud.

90. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Other phone exist with stereo sound and 3.5 mm jack. Better camera also exist on other phone with 3.5 mm jack. Waterproofing exist on other phone with 3.5 mm jack. Most ppl bashed on Samsung for S6 and note 5 lack of SD btw.

112. Mxyzptlk unregistered

"Other phone exist with stereo sound and 3.5 mm jack." Other phones exist that still use micro USB over USB type C. "Better camera also exist on other phone with 3.5 mm jack." Not as good as what the iphone 7 has. "Waterproofing exist on other phone with 3.5 mm jack." And they sound like garbage. Have you listened to how awful the Note 5 sounds? The S7?

114. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

i dont see the point of the micro usb over usb type c has to do with this.. trying to deflect again? So you have the iPhone 7 and already know all? Note 5 was not waterproofed btw. so based on this you lost all credibility sorry troll.

150. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Of course you don't. That's because you know I'm right. The point is that the Note 5 sounds like crap. Listening to music or watching videos is murder on your ears.

199. serge327

Posts: 79; Member since: Aug 27, 2012

Sony xperia did it with waterproof + 3.5mm headphone jack.

143. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The Note 5 isn't IP6x rated.a

180. TheYellowFlash

Posts: 42; Member since: Oct 08, 2015

Lets wait for the review before claiming that the iphone7 has a better camera. Btw apple will reinvent the headphone jack for iphone8 and call it "REVOLUTIONARY"

204. fedos

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 16, 2016

They'll claim to have invented 3.5mm jacks.

182. TheYellowFlash

Posts: 42; Member since: Oct 08, 2015

Lets wait for the review before claiming that the iphone7 has a better camera. Btw apple will reinvent the headphone jack for iphone8 and call it "REVOLUTIONARY"

95. tedkord

Posts: 17198; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

I did give them grief. I even emailed a complaint, though all I got was what looked like a form reply. Other achieved all you posted, while keeping the jack, in a smaller phone package. Excuses.

109. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Spamming "highest customer satisfaction" isn't giving them grief. You're backtracking and contradicting yourself. Samsung omitted a key feature of their devices, two key features btw, and yet you continue to call it the best phone ever. You do the same thing with the Note 7 despite the many stories of it exploding left and right. Face the facts tedkord, you've been ousted. You can't continue to be a big hypocrite for long. Yes, I did in fact voiced disappointment with the headphone jack removal, but they have released an adapter at only $10. If you can't afford $10, then get yourself a Happy Meal Android phone. #Rant #Schooled

121. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2124; Member since: May 29, 2014

Coming from the biggest hypocrite(and troll) on PA, that's rich. Fact of the matter is is that Apple went for the money grab. Plain and simple. You're just too much of an Apple f@ngirl to admit it. I don't remember you saying anything about those exploding iPhones. Or bendgate. Or antennagate. Or botched software updates that need updates to fix what the first three updates mess up. #HypocriteMuch #Schooled #Owned #GoBackUnderYourBridgeTroll

146. Mxyzptlk unregistered

You're irrelevant to this conversation.

173. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2124; Member since: May 29, 2014

Relevant enough for you to comment back troll. #BumBurned #SchooledOnceAgain

138. TBomb

Posts: 1276; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

tedkord meant that eliminating the 3.5mm jack didnt bring any improved technology to the headphones/audio space. He was not saying there is no better technology in the iphone compared to its previous versions... he was saying there was no better subsitute for the 3.5mm jack

151. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Tedkord was being ignorant. He likes to contradict himself. As you can see above, I just put him in his place with the cold, hard facts.

160. TBomb

Posts: 1276; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

So that would mean I'm being ignorant too since I'm clarifying the exact argument you called ignorant? Mxyzptik.... come on, dude....

170. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Well it's true. He was being ignorant. He hasn't even used the iphone 7 yet to justify his comment as being true.

176. JohnCorleone

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 26, 2012

Well let's just look at a few things logically here. Whenever a new iPhone comes out, it has upgrades from the previous model BUT when they add new features they tout them like they are ahead of the competition...but finally making a larger device last time after Samsung and numerous other companies had been selling them for years isn't exactly groundbreaking. They are really pushing their camera improvement...except every high end Android phone has a great camera now, most with RAW image Pro mode. Apple was first to get rid of the headphone Jack in a year when HTC puts a 24 bit amplified DAC audio chip in their device and the audio quality is so great that it makes car stereos clip and they can push any high end big headphones..and they included USB C as another top tier audio option. A few other carriers followed HTC and used the same DAC chip and any real audiophiles will tell you that the sound quality simply deteriorates on Bluetooth headphones although you can get a good Bluetooth speaker to entertain but so can every device! Now, MAYBE this iPhone can bring Apple back from their first year that they didn't meet expected sales projections but the HTC 10 takes great photos and videos with a HI FI audio option there, the battery lasts me 28-37 hours every charge and I got an AVERAGE of 7 hours of screen time and have been for a few consecutive months now..., Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge have incredible low light cameras and always have great although some say saturated colored photos. Samsung has really slipped on their audio chipsets but external storage and waterproofing are back and they emulated a build quality that's like a mix of IPhone (S7) and HTC (never break and never get slow with age. Then the V10 has followed by choosing the best audio chip in a phone (you can make studio quality tracks if you are a musician...People are loving the One Plus 3 for all around quality at great prices...the 2 Nexus devices are fan favorites and have moved to the next level of software that has multi window option like a tablet...I didn't even get to Sony, Xaomi, Nextbit...people stick with iphones because they are always a quick tutorial from being caught up on the changes and because they had been able to say that they are the most popular...but they are pretty much 2 years behind Android with their "new features"....with all of that being said, they are always going to work unless you break them and they all get updated almost simultaneously....but Apple literally banks every keystroke, photo, email, call, text, GPS coordinates that are made. That MOCK TRIAL saying they didn't have a 4 digit pin was exposed as a total propaganda move

162. k4ever

Posts: 240; Member since: Oct 08, 2014

We did give Samsung grief for removing the SD card slot on the S6/Note 5. Most S5/Note 4 owners did not upgrade. Samsung noticed and added the SD card slot back to the S7/Note 7. Your comment was stupid. What has Apple done to compensate for removing the headphone jack? They gave you an adapter that doesn't let you charge the phone while listening to music and is easy to lose. There was no reason to remove the headphone jack other than try to sell you some expensive wireless headphones. The problem is we have all used wireless headphones over the past few years (I have at least 4 sets of them) and they all suck! Wired headphones sound better.

123. ameran

Posts: 344; Member since: Dec 04, 2013

If it wasn't for money they would have included the wireless headphones to the box for free.

147. Mxyzptlk unregistered

They're providing an adapter. Do you see any other manufacturer providing BT headphones?

178. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Apple is the first in everything. /$

145. chebner

Posts: 249; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Hey Mxy, if it wasn't a money grab then Apple would have added support for the Apt-X codec to get the best possible audio quality out of all the headphones, Bluetooth speakers, cars, and other Bluetooth audio accessories that support it. Instead, if you want the best possible wireless audio quality from the iPhone 7 you have to pay the piper. So for all those people with products that have Apt-X support. You have to settle for standard sh!tty audio over Bluetooth. Pure money grab, plain and simple!

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