Culture

It's Official: Apple iPhone 7 Is Ditching Headphone Jacks in Favor of 'AirPods'

Image via Apple/YouTube

Apple held it most important event on Wednesday to announce the company’s new iPhones. iPhone sales dwarf the sales of all Apple’s other products combined, representing about 80% of revenue, so this event will have a big impact on Apple sales for the next twelve months.

As hard as Apple tried, the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were just incremental improvements over the models of the past two years. The improvements include a faster processor, a water-resistant housing, an improved camera, and more memory in the base units. The most controversial change was removing the headphone jack from the bottom of the phone.

Apple wants us to either use wireless headphones or buy new headphones that plug into the same Lightening connector used for charging. Apple says it made this move because it thinks the future of headphones is wireless.

But it seems to me that Apple has made a serious mistake. The decision was likely made over a year ago when sales were increasing at record rates, and Apple felt they could do no wrong. Success often breeds arrogance.

This decision may deter many from upgrading to the iPhone 7 or even sticking with Apple. The problem with the new scheme is you can’t simultaneously charge your phone and listen to a pair of wired headphones. Apple is encouraging us to buy Bluetooth wireless headphones or earbuds, but the sound quality over Bluetooth is not as good as over a wired connection.

To go along with these new models, Apple announced wireless earbuds—AirPods—that cost $159. They need to be charged every 5 hours, making listening on a coast to coast flight prohibitive. The earbuds fit into the ears and  look much like the wired earbuds now included at no cost.

As to battery life, one of the iPhone’s weaknesses, Apple said the new iPhone 7 will last two hours longer because of the new processor, not due to a bigger battery. And Apple already has one of the lowest-capacity batteries of any major phone. So my take is that the iPhone’s relatively short battery life has not been adequately addressed.

My advice is not to upgrade if you have an iPhone from series 6 or 6S. The improvements will be relatively minor. I used to upgrade every year or two, but am now still using a two-year-old iPhone 6, and can’t see any benefit to trading up. In fact, I prefer the 6 because it has a headphone jack.

Usually at the conclusion of Apple’s September events, there’s lots of excitement from the press that attends. But this year there was very little. As a close follower of Apple and former Apple employee, today’s event seems to demonstrate that the company has become much more cautious and less reluctant to lead in product innovation.

The other announcement was an upgrade to the Apple Watch. The new model, called Series 2, adds GPS capability to make it more suitable for runners and bicyclists. The current model will continue in its line at a reduced price starting from $269.

New software for both iPhones and the Apple Watch will be released this month that will likely bring as many improvements to the current phone and Watch as upgrading to new hardware.