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.
why did it do it?So
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.