Rumor has it that 2016 could cause a very big shift in one of the smaller aspects of the smartphone industry: what kind of headset we use. There have been a number of rumors going around for the anticipated iPhone 7 that claims the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack will be going the way of the dodo in favor of headphones that will instead use the Lightning port for noise-cancellation capabilities (and to make a thinner iPhone).
I’m seeing mixed reactions regarding this rumor. It goes anywhere from outright refusing to buy the iPhone 7 if this rumor ends up being true, to agreeing that it’s time for the 3.5mm headphone jack to retire. Like the floppy disk, VHS, and dial-up Internet before it, sometimes a big change like this is necessary in order to lead to bigger and better things.
And really, how often do we use wired headphones anyway? It’s 2016, and wireless headsets have been around for so long at this point that you can get a decent pair for as low as $10; they’re no longer the expensive accessory that they used to be.
Even so, I still use wired headsets all the time. Yes, there are a lot of cons to using them. They’re not exactly the most convenient thing to use when exercising – I know I’m not the only one who has gone for a jog only to find my arm has somehow ripped the headset out of both my ears and the jack. I’m also familiar with the utter surprise of being pulled back when you forgot you were wearing headphones in the first place, but you mistakenly walked away from whatever your headset was connected to.
But wireless headsets have their cons as well, such as losing their battery life halfway into your favorite song, or in the middle of a conversation. Like smartwatches, you have to remember to recharge your headset every so often (although not as often, in my experience) but it’s still a hassle that I hate more than the aforementioned issues with wired headsets. While I own a couple of wireless headsets of my own, it’s rare that I ever favor them over wired headsets.
As for Apple, while switching 3.5mm to Lightning wouldn’t technically be replacing wired headsets so much as changing how it connects, I couldn’t see myself going for it. I have no qualms with the 3.5mm jack or its quality, and I’ve grown accustomed to the convenience it provides. I have several pairs that I’ve obtained for free, and I can generally rely on them to work since they don’t need to charge.
It’s clear that the threat of the 3.5mm headphone jack becoming obsolete is real; after all, Oppo already made a device without it (Oppo R5), and instead encouraged the use of USB-C headsets. And if Apple actually comes through with the absence of the 3.5mm headphone jack in favor of its Lightning-only headphones, the threat would be even bigger. Personally, I don’t think the world is ready for that kind of transition yet. Since this all seems to be in the name of making phones as thin as possible, it seems like a frivolous change rather than a necessary one.
I’m in no way saying that Lightning or USB-C headphones shouldn’t exist, but I do know that I’m not alone in my love for headsets that still use the 3.5mm jack. I’m certain that there are a lot of people out there who would love to have an enhanced audio experience, but there are probably an even greater number of people out there who would be happy if companies left the 3.5mm headphone jack alone.
Readers, what are your thoughts? Is it time to get rid of the 3.5mm headphone jack? Let us know in the comments below!