As expected, the most talked-about feature of the iPhone 7 was the one Apple removed: the 3.5mm headphone socket. The company did, though, come to the party prepared. It most likely planned to leak the move a long time in advance, to give people time to get used to the idea and to inform headphone purchasing decisions.
It supplied Lightning EarPods in the box, so the vast majority of iPhone owners who never use anything else could simply shrug and get on with it. It also included a 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter so that those with existing wired headphones weren’t left out in the cold.
It marshalled its arguments, both during the keynote and in subsequent interviews: that it needed the space for a larger battery, taptic feedback engine and second speaker. It even used the word ‘courage’ to echo Steve Jobs talking about risking unpopularity when abandoning a standard.
Finally, it pushed wireless as the future for headphones, launching its own AirPods and creating a W1 chip for fast and seamless pairing across Apple devices. We’ve already seen these in a pair of Beats headphones, though sadly they are unlikely to be licensed to other manufacturers.
The fallout from the decision, then, so far seems to be limited. Will Apple be encouraged by this to make the same decision with MacBooks? It’s already testing the waters. If so, how and when will MacBooks also lose the 3.5mm headphone socket … ?
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