Would it be a mistake for Apple to remove the headphone jack on the iPhone 7?

Rumors continue to percolate that Apple will drop the 3.5mm headphone jack in its next iPhone to help slim down the device. But is it a good idea?

Removing the headphone jack on the next iPhone has its pros and cons.

James Martin/CNET

About a month ago, a rumor got started that Apple was planning to do away with the 3.5mm headphone on the iPhone 7, likely to be released this fall, and would steer people toward using wireless headphones or wired headphones that connect via the remaining Lightning port.

The Japanese blog Macotakara was the publication behind the rumor, and it created a bit of a stir because after all, every smartphone out there has a 3.5mm headphone jack and it'd be a big deal if Apple suddenly decided to ditch it.

Well, the rumor grew a few more legs today when the Chinese site Anzhuo wrote that supply chain sources had confirmed that the 3.5mm port would be removed on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and that Apple would make a wireless version of its EarPods and perhaps bundle them with the next iPhones. Naturally, there's no way to confirm any of this -- Apple isn't commenting on it -- but it's certainly worth pondering the possibility that it could happen.

These sites claim that the reason behind the removal of the headphone jack is a space-saving measure that would allow Apple to make the new iPhones even thinner. This wouldn't be the first time Apple has removed once-standard ports or accessories from its devices. For example, it killed the DVD disc drive in its PCs and more recently, replaced the standard USB ports with a new, forward-thinking USB Type-C port in its superslim and light 12-inch MacBook.

If Apple does indeed remove the 3.5mm jack, it could make a lot of people unhappy. I personally use a lot of wireless headphones, but I also like to be able to plug in my wired 'phones, which typically sound better than wireless models. I have a couple pairs of Philips Lightning headphones in the office, and frankly I don't use them much, though they do sound good.

By Lightning headphone I mean the headphone uses a cable that plugs directly into the Lightning port on the iPhone, creating a digital rather than an analog connection. What are the benefits? Well, not only are you getting a direct digital connection, but the headphones can draw juice from your device to power components in the headphone, which could include an internal DAC (digital-to-analog converter) and amplifier that bypass the internal DAC of the iPhone and/or active noise-cancellation circuitry.

The only problem is you can't charge your phone when you have a Lightning headphone using the port (potentially, I suppose, your headphone could be used to charge your phone). Also, it's unclear how you'd connect an analog headphone to the Lightning port. Some sort of adapter would be required and knowing Apple, if said adapter wasn't included with your new iPhone, it'd be a $30 accessory.

What do you think? Good idea to remove the headphone jack, or bad mistake?

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