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This article was published on September 7, 2016

Apple officially scraps the headphone jack for cordless EarPods with ‘Lightning’ charging

Apple officially scraps the headphone jack for cordless EarPods with ‘Lightning’ charging
Bryan Clark
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Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

We’ve speculated for weeks about whether Apple would actually kill the headphone jack. Today, we have the answer — it would.

The spot normally occupied by the headphone jack now houses Apple’s new ‘taptic’ sensor, which provides haptic feedback for the flush home ‘button’ upgrade that uses haptic feedback to mimic a click.

While a surprise to some, it’s more of an expected move by those in the tech industry. We’ve seen it coming and reacted with varying levels of trust that this decision was correct, but ultimately we’ve accepted the headphone jack’s fate. It’s Apple, after all, and the company has a history of killing things that we’ve grown accustomed to; see: physical buttons on cell phones and CD slots on laptops.

The move to proprietary charging technology may not be a surprise — Apple has an insane markup on accessories — but the shift away from corded headphones entirely could be. Apple’s new wireless ‘AirPod’ headphones connect via Bluetooth and offer a wireless listening experience. For traditionalists (or those with dead headphones) you can elect to go the corded route, only this time via Apple’s Lightning cable.

Those with expensive corded headphones can rest at ease, at least a little; Apple is shipping each new iPhone with a 3.5mm headphone jack to Lightning adapter.

It’s not ideal, but it’s a start. I mean, you are losing the only input on your iPhone if you decide to charge your headphones rather than charging it overnight. On long trips, this could prove to be an either/or scenario whereas before we didn’t have to decide.

Apple did tout a five-hour battery life though, so maybe it won’t be that big an issue.

Ultimately the move to wireless headphone is going to center on two things: connectivity and sound quality. The first has a user-friendly solution to connect with a single tap, but it’s the second we’re probably most worried about. While no one expects these to match the quality of an elite pair of headphones, I’d expect it to at least match the quality of its corded counterpart.

This shouldn’t prove to be an issue for a company that wants to appease a growing chorus of pissed off users that just lost a feature this important to them.

The AirPods will ship in late October.

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