Rumors that the next iPhone might have fewer holes have come and gone for months now, but a report on a frequently-reliable Japanese blog has the Western world buzzing that the upcoming iPhone 7 will come without a headphone jack.
No one knows when the iPhone 7 is going to appear, or even if that's what it's going to be called — hell, they could call it the "iPhone Pro" or the "Apple Phone" or the "Ha Ha Finally Made You Buy A Newton," for all we know. But that hasn't stopped Japanese-language blog Macotakara from learning from a "reliable source" that the "headphones included with the thinner model will use a Lightning connector to transfer audio data," Cult of Mac reports, and that Apple will dump the standard 3.5mm headphone jack that you see on pretty much every audio device anywhere else.
Of course, Apple hasn't commented on the speculation, which has been picked up by tech writers across the globe. According to USA Today, Macotakara has some credibility as an iPhone rumor source, having correctly predicted developments like changes in size for the device.
While more and more users are opting out of wired headphones for Bluetooth ones (I know once I went Bluetooth, I couldn't imagine ever going back to the tangled mess of traditional earbuds), Mashable says that "dropping [the standard] port could cause a world of hurt for hundreds of millions of headset owners."
The jack ditch is reportedly spurred by a desire to make the phone thinner. But as Cult of Mac notes, "Apple can sit back and talk up how a thinner iPhone and slightly better audio quality is worth sacrificing one of the few global standards remaining. But none of that will matter when people want to listen to music while charging their phone and can’t without busting out some Bluetooth headphones."
Of course, this isn't the first time Apple's dropped seemingly imperative feature from one of their devices and managed to stagger on — as you might recall if you are old like me, Apple's original 1998 iMac shipped without a floppy drive, which many critics at the time said made it completely useless. As it turns out, a floppy drive was a lot less crucial than people thought, wasn't it! The same appears to be true for DVD drives, which Apple started dumping years ago, and yet we continue to survive.
For Cult of Mac, however, the spurning of the standard headphone jack is less bold innovation and more "stupid." "We expect that if this rumor proves to be true, Apple will end up alienating customers and manufacturers alike, and it won’t be a transitory thing like the charging cable change-up," they write.
"Dropping the iPhone headphone jack would represent a serious drop in functionality in favor of claiming even more control over what people can and can’t plug into their phones."
Update: SFist commenter Akit raises a great point! How would killing the headphone jack impact payment processing services like Square, which use the headphone jack to attach their card readers? I don't have the answer to that one, either — I assume the readers would need an adapter, too. Like Akit said, it will be interesting to see how those companies react to the change, should it occur.