The release of Apple's iPhone 7 might still be nearly a year away, but rumors are already circulating that the company might ditch the standard headphone jack in favor of a thinner, proprietary Lightning connector.
Switching from a standard 3.5-millimeter headphone jack to a Lightning connector would enable Apple to make the iPhone 7 even thinner than the iPhone 6, which came out in September. The iPhone 7 is expected to be released sometime in the fall of 2016.
News of the possible change appeared over the weekend in a blog post on the Japanese-language Mac Otakara blog.
Earlier this year, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a note to investors suggesting that Apple's next smartphone would be even thinner than the iPhone 6, which measures 6.9 millimeters in thickness. Kuo's sources indicated the iPhone 7 might be just 6 millimeters to 6.5 millimeters thick.
Change Would Require Adaptors
If the rumor proves to be true, the change could spark frustration among some Apple fans. The company encountered such a response when it introduced the Lightning connector in September 2012. At that time, the proprietary Lightning connector replaced the 30-pin connector that had been found on iPhones, iPads, and iPods since 2003.
The Lightning connector offers some advantages over other types of connectors. In addition to being thinner than a standard headphone jack, its eight-pin connector can be inserted either up or down to attach headphones, earbuds and other peripherals.
But the new connector would mean that Apple users with standard headphones would have to buy adaptors to use their accessories with the iPhone 7. "it would surely create an uproar. Even if Apple includes a new pair of compatible earbuds, third-party Lightning earphones are rare, and paying extra for an unsightly, easy-to-lose dongle is hardly convenient or elegant," as noted today in an article published on the Quartz Web site.
Many users complained for months after Apple first switched from the 30-pin connector to the Lightning port in 2012. Devices released since then also use Lightning ports for charging and other accessories.
iPhone 7: Waterproof?
MacRumors, the Apple fan site, which first reported on the Mac Otakara blog post, has also been tracking other rumored changes that might appear with the iPhone 7. Other changes attributed to Mac Otakara include the possibility that the iPhone 7 will be waterproof and might feature glass-on-glass touch panels.
Under Apple's Made for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad licensing program, manufacturers must ensure that their accessories meet certain technical standards to work properly with iOS devices. In the case of accessories that work with Lightning connectors, any peripherals must include a custom integrated circuit offered by Apple to support verification via an Apple-provided certificate.
Accessories that don't support such verification will have more limited functionality. For example, headphones and earbuds without that support will be limited to analog audio and "a small subset of serial (UART) audio playback controls," according to Apple.