We’ve been hearing for many months that Apple could ditch the standard 3.5mm headphone jack for the iPhone 7, requiring users to purchase Bluetooth headphones to go with the phone. Now we’re hearing that Apple might be backing away from this decision. However, another source states that the headphone jack will actually disappear starting with the iPhone 7 this year. The two conflicting reports are both dated June 21.
iPhone 7 to lack a headphone jack
The Wall Street Journal reports today that Apple is unlikely to make any major changes to the iPhone 7 this year, breaking the tradition of releasing a complete overhaul every other year on the non-S models. The newspaper cites unnamed sources familiar with the company’s plans. This is in line with rumors we’ve heard before that the company is shifting away from a two-year major upgrade cycle.
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The WSJ reports that this year’s two iPhone models will still have the same 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens, which are the same as those used starting with the iPhone 6 in 2014. The newspaper states that the biggest change Apple plans to make in the iPhone is the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, which will enable the company to make the phone even thinner while also improving its resistance to water. The sources added that the Lightning connector will be used for both charging the iPhone and for connecting headphones.
Backtracking on decision to ditch headphone jack for iPhone 7?
However, Japanese-language website Mac Otakara reports that Apple may be backtracking from that decision. This is in line with another report from a Chinese source recently. Indeed, the rumors that the iPhone 7 would lack a standard headphone jack have been met with derision as Apple fans complained that that would have to purchase yet another accessory to go with the pricey new phone.
It may be that the company is backing away from dumping the standard headphone jack because now really isn’t the time to take a chance like this. Apple has been struggling amid exceptionally weak iPhone 6s sales, and it needs the iPhone 7 to do better. Dumping the headphone jack may be too big of a risk for Apple to take at a time like this.
Interestingly, the company may be paving the way for a future iPhone model without a headphone jack. Mac Otakara also reports that the iPhone 7 will also come with an adaptor for a Lightning headphone jack in the box. This could be Apple’s attempt at preparing consumers to one day accept an iPhone that doesn’t have a standard headphone jack.
What’s with the conflicting stories?
So what’s the real story with the headphone jack for the iPhone 7? We have two reports from two different sources stating the opposite, although the bit about the Lightning adaptor for a headphone jack is a particularly interesting tidbit. ZDNet suggests some possibilities about Mac Otakara’s report. Of course one is that it’s right and that it signals that Apple has had a change of heart. Another is that the rumor is flat out wrong, and the third is that the iPhone maker is currently testing multiple versions of the iPhone 7 and hasn’t yet decided about whether to ditch the standard headphone jack.
What’s interesting to note is that The Wall Street Journal states that the Lightning port will serve not only to charge the iPhone but also to connect headphones. This would support the part from Mac Otakara’s report which stated that there will be an adaptor that will allow the Lightning port to be used to connect headphones.
It seems a little redundant that Apple would include both a 3.5mm headphone jack and an adaptor for connecting traditional headphones to the iPhone 7 using the Lightning port. This would only add to bill of materials needed to manufacture the device, and we all know how Apple is about preserving gross margins. Also when looking at the two reports from Mac Otakara and The Wall Street Journal and breaking them into smaller tidbits, I’m leaning toward Apple still testing multiple iPhone 7 versions, one with a headphone jack and one without.
Triggering upgrades with more storage in the iPhone 7
Mac Otakara also backs up the rumor that there will be a 256GB variant for those who want lots of storage. This could be the right time for Apple to bump up available storage to 256GB, particularly if the iPhone 7 won’t be much different from the iPhone 6s. Such a sizable increase in the amount of available storage might be enough to convince people to upgrade their iPhone even if they don’t feel like the other features are upgrade-worthy. Also offering more storage would be good for the company’s gross margins if the product mix favors the more expensive variant with higher storage.
Apple shares edged upward by as much as 1.11% to $96.16 during regular trading hours on Tuesday.