It’s a controversial move, but there would be some benefits to getting rid of the 3.5mm port
It’s one of the longest-standing and most controversial rumours surrounding the upcoming iPhone 7: that it will have no headphone jack.
According to two leaked case designs for Apple’s next handset, the company rolled the dice and will get rid of the 3.5mm industry standard port in September and encourage users to adopt Lightning port headphones.
But why would the tech giant do this?
The most common explanation for Apple’s radical move is that the jack not only takes up too much space inside the phone’s chassis, but it is now stopping the company from delivering thinner smartphones.
Rumours suggest the iPhone 7 will only be 1mm slimmer than the iPhone 6, but removing the standard headphone port would open up sufficient scope for future devices to be thinner and thinner.
However, the world’s slimmest smartphone, the Chinese-made Vivo X5 Max, is only 4.75mm thick – yet a 3.5mm headphone jack appears on it.
So getting rid of the headphone jack isn’t a complete necessity for slimmer designs, but it could be for larger screens.
TechRadar points out that screen hardware and headphone jacks don’t always mix and that on most smartphones, the jack usually ends where screen begins.
Ridding the iPhone 7 of it could open up the possibility of a complete end-to-end display, striking the home button from the device, too – a rumour that has been mooted but has since gone quiet.
One idea behind the reports – and one with some weight behind it, given that the recent case leaks back it up – is that Apple will use the space vacated by the headphone jack to equip future iPhones with a dual-speaker set-up.
Currently, iPhones have a mono-audio output, but a dual system, or, as Forbes speculates, a scaled down version of the speaker system used on the iPad Pro, would mean “improved external audio, which perhaps is a way of bridging the headphone jack to lightning port transition”.
The two case leaks for the iPhone 7 have both featured new cut-outs at the base of the device, hinting that an upgraded speaker set-up is on the cards.