Apparently, You Don’t Need the Headphone Jack as Much as You Thought

BY George Tinari

Published 14 Feb 2017

iPhone 7 with AirPods

A few weeks ago, Apple seemingly came out of nowhere to announce a record quarter for iPhones. The company sold 78.2 million iPhones, more than any other quarter in history. These astronomical sales were likely boosted by both the holiday season and the release of the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

It’s perfectly clear that the iPhone 7 has been nothing short of a slam dunk. But what’s so fascinating to me is how so many are willing to ignore the predictions of its downfall just a few months prior. Well, now it’s time to revisit them and see where those predictions dramatically missed the mark on iPhone, Apple, and millions of customers around the globe.

Early iPhone 7 Complaints

iPhone 7 Plus - Back - Camera - closeup

There was a time when, if you’re at all interested in tech, you couldn’t open the Twitter app without seeing a headline about the iPhone’s missing headphone jack. People were annoyed at the possibility of Apple removing the beloved 3.5 mm audio output. They were also frustrated and confused about what Apple would offer as a replacement: Lightning headphones, wireless headphones, dongles, all three?

Then reviews came out for the iPhone 7 and even those focused on the headphone jack way more than they should have. Macworld and The Verge come to mind. Critics wrongly assumed that the single factor influencing consumers’ buying decisions was that damn headphone jack. Apparently, that was wildly incorrect.

Put simply, if the removal of the headphone jack had been a monumental deal breaker, Apple would not have sold a record amount of iPhones last quarter.

No Headphone Jack? No Problem

I was at a dinner with some friends the other day discussing the iPhone 7. Keep in mind they don’t write about tech like I do for a living. In fact, they’re still less than thrilled about the removal of the optical drive from most laptops these days because they still like to burn CDs for car rides. As you can imagine, the headphone jack removal doesn’t intrigue them either.

I dismissed most of the complaints by saying it isn’t as bad as it seems. I miss being able to use an auxiliary cord without a dongle, but at least the dongle is available. Plus I have wireless headphones for every other purpose. Apple is clearly trying to push toward wireless audio and I brought up how despite complaints, they managed to sell a record number of iPhones last quarter.

My friends, still bitter about the headphone jack, blamed sales on the market’s desires to buy whatever is shiny and new.

Now admittedly, there are plenty of people like this. But people who buy shiny, new gadgets do not break sales records. Gadgets have to be far more than shiny to sell tens of millions of units; they have to be practical. Believe it or not, even without the headphone jack, the iPhone 7 is still practical too. It’s a fantastic phone and the pros far outweigh the cons.

It’s understandable that a certain group of Apple’s customer base is annoyed by the missing headphone jack, disappointed too. Clearly, they aren’t annoyed enough to refuse to upgrade. The headphone jack really isn’t that big of a deal to them. Dongles are clunky to carry around, but they’re good enough to do their job of fixing the compatibility issue with wired headphones and aux cards. Besides, they’re only temporary, as Apple patiently waits for the world to ditch wires altogether.

The Future is Coming Fast

Apple might not even need to wait that long for the future. Rumors are already swirling about upcoming Android devices eliminating the headphone jack too. Some have even gotten started with the trend. Let’s be honest with ourselves: in five years, most of the top-selling smartphones won’t have one.

As current wired accessories go to their graveyards, people will instead buy wireless accessories as their replacement. Sound quality is improving, battery life is improving, Bluetooth technology is improving. The reasons for sticking with wired headphones and speakers are diminishing. Plus, vehicle aux cards will die out too as more cars support CarPlay, Bluetooth or even just USB connectivity.

The argument that the 3.5 mm headphone jack is still the present is totally valid. It may be good enough, but technology is all about finding what’s better. In order to advance wireless technology and adoption to where it should be, someone had to push the envelope. Apple took that initiative. It’s easy to resist change now, but your life will get much easier down the road as a result. The iPhone sales numbers are a strong indication that the market is ready for that.

➤ 10 Hilarious Reactions to AirPods and Lack of 3.5mm Headphone Jack in iPhone 7