Removing the 3.5mm headphone jack: brave move or temporary diversion?

Removing the 3.5mm headphone jack: brave move or temporary diversion?

I like to listen to music on my phone, in fact it’s the primary way I consume it. I have various earphones for the task, from the rather good in-ear buds that came with it to a Skull Candy headset that’s got a brilliant bass response. All of these have one thing in common – the 3.5mm jack.

Much of my music is consumed from my phone, whether by pushing it to an airplay device, using the in-built speaker in the kitchen or popping on some headphones. I have different headphones for the purpose: the in-ear buds that came with it for when I’m walking around, a pair of Skull Candys if I want to shut the world out a bit at work, or some heavy duty Sony’s for serious listening. They’ve all got one thing in common: the 3.5mm jack.

Much has been made of the decision to drop the ubiquitous connector, and Apple has form in this regard. The original iPhone shipped with their own proprietary adapter, which made finding replacement earphones difficult and expensive. For all the hue and cry about the “7” it does at least include an adapter to hook up 3.5mm headphones and there’s a range of earphones that plug straight into the Lightening adapter.

And of course there’s Bluetooth.

No doubt Apple would prefer you dived into the Bluetooth route, which would preserve the purity of their sleek design aesthetic. To help the discussion along a little they’ve introduced their “air buds”, small in-ear buds that have anything up to 5 hours of listening time on a single charge (barely enough for a realistic day’s listening). The alternative, of course, will be something more bulky.

Yet Bluetooth isn’t ideal for listening to music. The quality isn’t quite there and it has a habit of dropping the connection every now and then. Of course there’s also the battery issue, not only in the headphones but also in the device itself.

From a functional perspective it makes sense to reduce the number of holes in the case and free up internal space for more battery or electronics. No doubt too the 7 is a product on a path to some new revolution in product design that Apple’s preparing for a year or three from now. It also creates something that looks a little sleeker than its predecessor.

From a user perspective I’m not convinced. 3.5mm offers flexibility, sound quality, ease of use and affordability. Of course there is that adapter, but adding it damages the aesthetic.

Whether this is a bold “courageous” (really?) move, or just another diversion remains to be seen.

About Ross A Hall

I'm a freelance content manager and editorial designer. I work with small and growing businesses so they get the most out of their content.

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