The iPhone 7 will not have a traditional headphone socket, Apple has confirmed. The US company unveiled its latest handset at an event in San Francisco.
The device also lets the home button detect how firmly it is being pressed and provide vibration-based feedback, and adds a two-lens camera to the Plus model’s rear. The 3.5mm headphone jack was made popular by Sony’s Walkman cassette players, but was first introduced in one of the Japanese company’s transistor radios in 1964.
Apple has repeatedly been willing to ditch connectors and other ageing tech from its products earlier than its rivals. But one expert questioned the benefit of the latest move.
“If you’ve been interested purely in the audio quality then a wired connection has always been best,” said Simon Lucas, editor of What Hi-fi magazine.
“You have greater stability – there’s no possibility of drop-outs. Wireless headphones also need to be charged, and the louder you listen to them the quicker they will run out of power.
“With regards to headphones with a lightning connector, there’s only about eight pairs currently available and they will all have had to pay Apple a licence to use its proprietary connector.”
One company watcher agreed that the move was likely to cause a backlash, but suggested it would be short-lived.
“Apple changed the charger port a few years ago and people got upset,” said Francisco Jeronimo from the research firm IDC. “But it didn’t stop people from buying the iPhone. “Removing the headphone jack won’t either.
“What’s more important is whether a consumer likes Apple’s ecosystem or Android’s, because at this point Windows and Blackberry phones have an extremely low market share.”
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The launch comes a week after the European Commission demanded Apple pay up to €13bn (£11bn) in back taxes to Ireland – a ruling the firm is appealing.
“The current difficulties with the EU will have little bearing towards the iPhone 7 at this juncture,” predicted Ben Wood from the CCS Insight consultancy.
“But the dispute will drag on for years, and if sentiment turns against Apple that could have major implications for the brand.”
The iPhone 7 Plus has both a wide angle and telephoto lens on its back, both using the same 12 megapixel sensor.
This allows the owner to quickly switch to a tighter shot without sacrificing image quality, and also allows the device to offer 10x zoom – double the amount than before – by digitally cropping the photo in the camera app.
The tech is also used by Apple to simulate an effect associated with larger DSLR cameras.
Software picks people’s faces out from the background, keeping the humans in focus while blurring the rest of the shot. The feature will not, however, be available at launch but will rather be provided as an update later on.