The case of the missing iPhone 7 audio jack

If leaked photos claiming to show an iPhone 7 case have any merit, your next iPhone could sport dual speakers. Meanwhile, the standard audio jack appears MIA.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

Will Apple's next iPhone include stereo speakers at the expense of the traditional audio jack?

James Martin/CNET

You may get better sound out of the next iPhone, but you might have to do without the standard 3.5mm audio jack.

Photos of an alleged iPhone 7 case posted by a blogger on French website Nowhereelse.fr appear to back up previous rumors of dual speakers. But the traditional audio jack is missing in action. The photos clearly show two large slots at the bottom of the phone that would support dual speakers but with no room leftover for an audio jack, which resides on the bottom of existing iPhone models.

Another slot, on the top back of the case, shows a spot where the camera would reside. The slot seems large enough to support two camera lenses. Rumors have suggested that the iPhone 7 Plus will come with a dual-camera system but that the standard iPhone 7 will stick with just a single camera. So the slot itself could simply be the usual space reserved for the lens and its accompanying LED flash, and not a two-camera setup.

Last year's iPhone 6S and 6S Plus didn't offer enough new must-have features to convince customers to upgrade, a factor that industry watchers say contributed to flat iPhone sales last quarter. To regain lost revenue and compete with other companies, such as Samsung, Apple needs to spruce up the iPhone 7 with more new features to lure in first-time smartphone buyers as well as those looking to buy up.

Dual stereo speakers would be a plus for the new iPhone, which has long been saddled with a mono speaker. Such speakers would better reproduce stereo recordings to make them sound like they're coming from different directions. The current lineup of iPads uses stereo speakers, as do some Google Nexus, HTC One and Sony Xperia model phones.

But what of the audio jack? Rumors have also claimed that Apple will jettison the 3.5mm audio jack used for traditional earbuds, headphones, external speakers and similar accessories. Instead, Apple will reportedly use the Lightning port to pipe through sound and will possibly make a wireless version of its EarPods. That leaves open the question of what you'd do if you needed to plug in a Lightning cable to charge the iPhone at the same time you wanted to listen to music through your wired earbuds.

Assuming Apple does away with the familiar audio jack, the company would have to have some viable work-around in place, otherwise it would risk making too radical a change that would turn off many potential iPhone 7 buyers.

The photos posted by French blogger Steve Hemmerstoffer also show certain features remaining in the same location. The power button, volume control and the switch to put the phone into vibrate mode are all in the same spots as on the current iPhone.

Hemmerstoffer said he obtained the photos from a source that has always proved trustworthy. So he believes the images are legitimate. The inclusion of stereo speakers and other details indicated by the photos also are in line with information leaked last week by Japanese blog Mac Otakara and in January by Chinese site Anzhuo.

Still, it's wise to take all this information with a grain of salt for now.

Apple did not respond to CNET's request for comment.

(Via MacRumors)