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Apple may ditch the headphone jack on next year’s iPhone 7

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Apple is rumored to be removing the 3.5mm headphone jack from its next iPhone, instead opting to use the existing Lightning port for audio output as well as charging.

A report hailing from Japan claims that the existing Lightning port in the iPhone 7 would become a multi-purpose connector, supporting proprietary Lightning headphones in addition to its main use as a charging port. It would also be upgraded to offer backwards compatibility with standard wired headphones, although this would require a 3.5mm to Lightning adapter – which presumably would be sold separately.

The primary reason for the switch is said to be Apple’s constant pursuit of a thinner phone – the design team is notorious for sacrificing battery life in the past in favor of a marginally lighter, smaller product. Apple is also well-known for ditching aging technology a little earlier than most people would expect. Remember when it removed the floppy disk drive from the iMac in 1998 when the media was still widely used? If the rumors are true, the convenient 3.5mm jack could be the latest technology to be offed before its time.

Earlier this year Apple shocked the world by releasing a new Macbook with just a single USB-C port for power, data transfer and peripherals. It’s come under some criticism for it – especially for the price of the proprietary adapters need to plug in two things at once – but is just another example of Apple looking to the future and doing what it thinks is right from a design point of view.

Apple already has a Made For iPhone program running to support third-party Lightning-enabled headphones, which could be seen as laying the groundwork for an eventual transition. And if the switch is made, it’s likely the iPhone 7 will come with a new set of Lightning EarPods. BlueTooth headphones are improving all the time, which would offer another option – but we’re guessing many consumers would be sad to see the 3.5″ port go.

Remember, this is very much still a rumor at this stage – but such is Apple’s reach and appeal, any decision to scrap the headphone jack could have a big knock-on effect for the rest of the industry.