Unplugged: the end of the headphone jack


Illustration by Stephen Kim. Original photo by Leanna Shebib.

The iPhone 7 was released amid controversy over its lack of headphone jack.

Saswat Pati, Staff Writer

Rest in Peace, Headphone Jack. You have served us well.  

If you haven’t heard yet, Apple removed the headphone jack from the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The headphone jack is an integral part of any electronic; it’s the main way people listen to music, watch movies, and do just about everything sound related.  

The removal of the headphone jack has split the world over whether or not Apple’s decision was valid.

Earlier in Apple’s history, the company took great leaps by being one of the first companies to drop the ethernet port and in-computer optical drive.  Those changes were met with backlash at the time, but they allowed the Macbook Air to develop its signature thin and light structure. There were clear benefits to the removal of these features that not only helped Apple add other features but also benefited the consumer by providing a more portable product.

There are no immediate benefits to the loss of the headphone jack. Now, the only way to access audio from your iPhone is to use Bluetooth headphones or listen through the speakers.  Bluetooth technology has improved within recent years but, unless you are willing to pay upwards of 50 dollars for a pair of headphones, the sound quality is generally poor. Also, without the headphone jack, you can’t hook up your phone to your car or home speakers unless they are Bluetooth compatible.  Apple may think this is a bold decision, but all they accomplished was less utility and less versatility.

In an even more confusing move,  Apple revealed the design of $160 “Airpods” to be released late October.  These headphones are essentially Apple’s classic headphones but without wires and a few new features, such as activating Siri by tapping the headphones.

These AirPods look like lollipops hanging out of your ears.”

These AirPods look like lollipops hanging out of your ears. They are convenient for everyday use, but easily fall out with excessive motion. In my opinion, the Airpods are extremely overpriced and I would not recommend them. For even half the price, you could buy functional (and more practical) Bluetooth headphones.  Apple even released a pair of cheaper Beats X Wireless Headphones at the same time as the AirPods, so the introduction of the AirPods at such a steep price made no sense.

With the exception of the camera, the iPhone 7 itself is not a significant upgrade to the iPhone 6s unless you are looking for more storage and processing.  The iPhone 7 has the exact same chassis and screen as the 6S, although the screen on the 7 is a little brighter.

This iPhone is the first to have a pair of stereo speakers, but the speaker grills on the bottom are generally covered up when you have the phone in your hands. Apple also made the phone officially water resistant, but the previous iPhone 6S was virtually water resistant in fresh water.  Lastly, the iPhone 7 also lost the famous home button; it was changed into a force touch button. 

Although I stand by my complaints, take my thoughts with a grain of salt. The removal of the headphone jack seems to have made our lives a little more inconvenient, but in a few years we might all be talking about how great an innovation removing the headphone jack was.