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iPhone 7: are you miffed that Apple’s scrapped the headphone socket?

Apple has removed the headphone socket from the iPhone 7. Will you want to buy into this new listening experience?

Yesterday Apple announced its newest release, the iPhone 7. It highlighted some impressive tech specs, along with the removal of a feature that could cause some controversy. The iPhone 7 has no headphone socket, instead relying on its Lightning connector and new AirPods.

No more socket

The missing headphone socket means customers won’t be able to plug their old headphones directly into the phone. If they don’t wish to use the AirPods, there are other options. They can either use other Lightning-based headphones, wireless Bluetooth headphones, or the headphone socket adaptor that’s included with the iPhone 7 to connect their old headphones.

So customers won’t be required to exclusively use Apple technology if they buy an iPhone. But many will still feel inconvenienced by the change, or most likely have to end up spending more money on compatible headphones.

Apple’s wireless headphones

The AirPods seem to be almost as big an announcement as the iPhone. Apple details how customers will be able to simultaneously connect them to other Apple devices, like a Mac, and how the AirPods can accept voice commands so you can operate your phone hands-free.

Apple says the lack of a headphone socket gives ‘a new sense of freedom’, and even goes as far as saying the AirPods are ‘magical’. The hype is definitely there. But for some the change might not feel liberating.

Using headphones with the adapter means another item to keep track of, and possibly more headphone tangles. The AirPods themselves, yes, are small and wireless. But there have been times I’ve been thankful my headphones have wires. For instance, during busy commutes when one earbud pops out of my ear and is saved from falling under a train due to its connection with my phone.

Here’s what Rory from our Tech team said about the missing headphone socket:

‘Apple says it took ‘courage’ to remove the headphone socket from the iPhone 7. I agree. It takes courage to eradicate the best audio standard in the world because you’re keen to cash in on your own proprietary system.

‘Sure, you can plug your own headphones in through the lightning adaptor that Apple will ship with the iPhone 7, but you won’t want to. Leave the adaptor connected and it will stick out and make it uncomfortable to have the phone in your pocket, or unplug it and lose it down the back of the sofa.

‘No, Apple wants you to splash out on its £159 AirPods. These require battery charging every few hours and have no cord, making them easy to lose. It’s not hard to see the point of Apple killing the headphone socket. In my opinion, the point is to make more money.’

Will more mobiles make this change?

Though there’s a lot of discussion about Apple’s decision, it’s not the first a mobile phone company to get rid of the headphone socket. The Moto Z, released earlier this year, is also missing this feature. So perhaps we’re starting to see a change in the mobile market, much like the phasing out of disc drives in laptops. Regardless, it marks a significant change for the iPhone market and the consumers who eagerly awaited this new release.

Do you think this marks a shift in phone audio? Does this change excite you, or will it discourage you from purchasing an iPhone 7? Tell us what you think in the comments and vote in our poll.


Comments

The small sockets used by Apple and others are extremely prone to failure. The Lightning connector will provide a pure digital signal and should be far more reliable.

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No, Duncan. Apple uses AAC encoding, widely considered superior to MP3. And yes – we never use the iPhone for listening, but we have three iPods and the music quality is outstanding when routed through a decent amp and speaker combination. But Derek P’s point is well taken. Apple does make excellent stuff, but prices according to what the market will bear, and not what the product is worth.

Interestingly, although I own possibly more Apple equipment than most, the only issue I’ve found with their products has been the headphone socket. The small socket has always been prone to failure and on the computers I routinely disengage it and use the USB port instead.

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Will never buy an expensive Apple product when there are cheaper alternatives available which will do the same thing maybe without the Apple gimmicks That is my answer.

I’m with Rory on this one. My personal view is that Apple’s marketing allows them to do very well with the “more money than sense” section of the population – but, hey, that’s enterprise for you.

My £20 Alcatel Pixi has a headphone socket and I have a nice cheap (£5) headphones set with a microphone. I find that very useful when I need to improve the audio quality of phone calls – and if I need to access the keypad, e.g. if dealing with a call centre robot.

I am absolutely not interested in this new change. I use earbuds exclusively for exercising and the likelihood of losing cordless, expensive earpieces is very high. This feature alone would discourage me from purchasing the iPhone 7.

It’s rubbish.
You have to charge both the iPhone and the ear things.
You can’t charge them and listen.
They look far more at home stuffed up your nostrils than in your ears.
They are just a ploy to get you to pay £150 for those nostril phones.

Just more money for Apple. A fool and his money are soon parted.

I like this a lot. Potential for digital audio and no risk of my phone getting wet inside from rain. This is tech after all, so it and we need to progress without hinderance from old technology. Otherwise we would still have floppy disks as just one often trotted out but stupid example.
Rory is talking rubbish. I’ll just leave the headphone adapter attached to the headphone wire. It already gets tangled so it won’t make any real difference. If it does cause me a problem then I may upgrade to digital headphones with a direct lightning connector. At least Apple had the sense to provide the adapter when you buy the phone. Not doing that would rightly have led to shouts of exploitation as people would have felt pushed to buy an adapter or other headphones.
AirPods are a separate issue and should not confuse the topic of the phone not having an old fashioned analog audio socket.
I praise Apple for doing this but I am not naieve that it does open up another product ( Airpods ) for Apple to sell. Personally I would not buy them as I prefer the wire for sound and security. However when someone produces a truly in-ear version with a decent charge time then perhaps I would reconsider.

I found that the earphones which came with my iPhone 6 were so uncomfortable that I have never used them. I am currently on a set of £12 ones from Sainsburys. When I eventually do upgrade to a new phone I wil not be rushing back to Apple.

Quote from New Scientist: “the iPhone 7 comes with an adaptor that will allow you to plug your old, wired headphones in the phone’s remaining Lightning port.” So it would seem that those bewailing its loss are somewhat premature.

The Which article says that too.

I don’t know if the adaptor will let you use headphones when data and/or charging functions are also in use. Also, I presume that, if you lose or break your adaptor, you’ll only be able to buy replacements at “Apple approved” prices.

The folk I feel sorry for are those who really struggle to afford Apple kit, but end up succumbing to peer pressure and buying it anyway. Christmas is coming – I expect quite a lot of children will be asking to be given iPhones, leaving their parents to foot the bill.

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I don’t own an Apple Phone, and this gives me one more reason not to. A year or so ago, I bought myself a nice set of headphones(*) that I use with my mobile, which are wired (I also use them with my stereo). What concerns me is that Apple’s example will encourage other manufacturers to create phones without a head-phone jack.

I expect that the vaunted waterproofing would still work if a head-phone jack were coupled to the audio output using some sort of inductive coupling (like some rechargeable electric toothbrushes). Providing a head-phone jack would add to the bill of materials for the phone. In my view Apple are not being “courageous” – more “economical”.

(*) Which? recommended, of course!

Simple precautions to prevent the movement of liquids through simple round holes, like headphone sockets, must be much easier to design and produce that sealing arrangements for rectangular ones like USB and (wallet) Lightening connectors.

The two cheap digital cameras lying here by my PC both have soft rubber covers over all of their external ports.

Thanks for sharing your take on this @crepuscular, we’ve made your comment the featured comment on the Which? Conversation homepage 🙂

Which of all organisations needs to wake up to just how disreputable Apple are when it comes to their highly questionable after sales care.

I’ve had iPods, iPhones & iPads for years and have needed to refer back to Apple support over failure of their products on many occasions over this time.

But when it comes to Apple Store ‘Genius Bar’ support my experience has always been that when a software or hardware issue cannot be resolved in store, Apples only policy is to swap the device for a refurbished identical model.

To reinforce this, Apple also has a rigid policy of not allowing upgrades or downgrades to other models that may not have the fault you are complaining about. So they offer no escape route this way either.

The major problem with this policy is that often, in my experience, the exchanged item will still have the same software or hardware fault, so of course the issue does not get resolved. And if you take the device back again to Apple, all they will do is swap it for the same model again which will be just as likely to have the same fault.

This has been the case with my iPhone 6 Plus. I paid for the 128GB model only to find that when more than about 1/2 it’s storage was used the phone kept continuously crashing. There were a huge number of complaints about this on Apples support forum and in the media but again Apple offered no solution other than to swap the product. I did this and the replacement had exactly the same problem. I swapped it again through the same Apple Store and it again had the same fault. So in the end I’d paid for a 128GB model but could only keep it working if I used less than 1/2 this.

And now this latest issue with what’s infamously become known as ‘Touch disease’, affecting ‘just’ the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus as far as I know. Where the screen intermittently but frequently becomes completely unresponsive to touch so not even the phone can be used. Again widely reported in the media and a large number of complaints on Apples forum. But again complete silence from Apple other than through the only option it seems to understand – swap the unit.

There are however numerous reports in the media that the refurbished units also commonly have the same problem. So much so apparently, that Apple employees often have to go through several refurbished units to find one that does not immediately demonstrate the fault.

For me this latest example of Apple indifference is the last straw and I intend to dispose of all my Apple products and move over to Android.

But to describe this as just Apple’s indifference is also misleading. The class action lawsuit in the States that claims Apple’s denial of responsibility is criminal is much closer to the truth in my view.

Interestingly, Apple is now promoting in the UK its option of buying a new phone through them every year. This should certainly help its policy of refusing to repair older phones but is also deeply cynical I think. It’s a long way from being properly responsible to its customers or environmentally friendly despite the iPhones supposed recyclability.

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You can’t be looking in the right places, as the Register reported this on 24th August:

“Apple’s swanky iPhones can suffer chip failures that can render the touchscreen unusable.

This according to a report from DIY repair site iFixit, which says two controller chips on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus logic board can lose their electrical contacts, and when they go, the handset’s touchscreen no longer works.

The issue commonly begins with gray bars appearing on the screen or touch features not working occasionally. Because of this, iFixit says, the problem can incorrectly be attributed to a faulty touchscreen.

In reality, however, the issue is caused by failures in the U2402 “Meson” and U2401 “Cumulus” chips, both of which are soldered onto the main board and act as controllers to handle the touch features on Apple’s smartphone.”

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The Register is penned by engineers, Duncan, and is an extremely reliable source of Tech information. The Register report has also been confirmed by an Apple ‘insider’ and I anticipate that Apple will be offering a replacement service for all iPhone 6 owners in the near future. They may well replace it with the 6S, since that has a different design and is not affected in the same way.

If getting rid of the earphone socket makes the phone more water resistant that would appeal to me, especially since I don’t use the socket on my present phone, an iPhone 5S. I’m glad that my phone survived a couple of very wet days when on holiday recently.

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“Water resistant” will have defined limitations attached to it. For example the depth to which it can be immersed without leaking. Clearly as the water pressure increases with depth there will be a practical limit imposed by the sealing design. Just like your water resistant watch.

“Water proof” implies total resistance to the ingress of water.

The phone carries an IP (Ingress Protection) rating “iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are splash, water and dust resistant, and were tested under controlled laboratory conditions with a rating of IP67 under IEC standard 60529. Splash, water and dust resistance are not permanent conditions and resistance might decrease as a result of normal wear. Do not attempt to charge a wet iPhone; refer to the user guide for cleaning and drying instructions. Liquid damage not covered under warranty.”

IPX7 means the phone can be immersed at a depth of 1m without harmful ingress of water.

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But note that “liquid damage is not covered under warranty”. Presumably you would have to prove that you did not take it below 1m while swimming? However, if you could prove that it leaked in less than 1m immersion then I doubt this guarantee condition would be legally enforceable. You could immerse it in strongly-coloured water with a witness perhaps, to demonstrate whether it performed or not. I see no point in advertising a particular feature but then not standing by it should it fail to meet the stated claim.

Is that just a case of the manufacturers protecting themselves if the battery explodes or catches fire and one puts the device in the sink and runs the tap on it? I cannot understand why anyone should expect a highly sophisticated electronic device reliant on pure conductivity to survive under water or even be useable at all when it’s wet. If you give someone a mobile phone be sure to give them an umbrella with it. An umbrella with a mobile phone built into the handle will no doubt evolve in time [I can visualise it now in Private Eye‘s Christmas ideas catalogue: ” . . . plays the main song from Singin’ in the Rain“]. I guess Which?’s Weekly Scoop would fall for it.

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Apparently the Samsung Galaxy S7 also excludes liquid damage from the warranty cover. It would be useful if the manufacturers gave an explanation but my guess is that they have no idea of what the phone has been subjected to, bearing in mind that phones go everywhere and get dropped and subjected to other abuse.

eetasia.com/news/article/jack-is-dead-apple-unveils-first-wireless-soc

For the technical. As an untechnical I am curious about the 5 hour life of the ear-phones and the practical effects. Buy two sets and remember to charge. Do you wear one at a time so you can hear traffic ….

On another note the continual use of headphones must warrant some comment from an unbiased source one would think. It was the French who prevented the sale of early portable electronics with headphones because there was no effective restriction on volume so safe levels were ignored.

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