Apple cut the cord on the venerable headphone jack on Wednesday— but there are plenty of options coming to replace it.
After months of rumors, Apple officially eliminated the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7. But don’t panic, Apple is bundling EarPods with the iPhone 7 that plug into the Lightning Connector -- the same connector used for charging the phone. The iPhone 7 also comes come with an adapter that allows you to use your old 3.5mm headphones.
But that’s an interim solution. The real deal is coming later this fall: the completely-wireless Apple AirPods and bevy of new Beats wireless earphones and headphones.
The Apple-branded AirPods not only connect wirelessly but have no connecting wire between the two ear buds. Siri -- Apple’s voice-driven digital assistant -- will control the AirPods via a built-in microphone. And a new "W1" Apple chipset eliminates the typical Bluetooth pairing process, connecting them automatically to the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2.
They will be available in late October for $159 and include a charging case. Apple says they deliver five hours between charges.
Apple has also introduced a trio of new wireless Beats headphones. Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones ($200), which are rated at 12 hours of battery life, Beats Solo3 Headphones ($300), which are a more traditional over-the-ear design and are rated at 40 hours, and BeatsX Earphones ($150), which are rated at 8 hours between charges.
And the Apple store has already been offering wireless headphones prior to the iPhone 7 announcement.
Jaybird sells Freedom Wireless Bluetooth Headphones for $200 at the Apple store, as does Will.i.am, with the i.am+ EPs Bluetooth Wireless Headphones for $230. And less-expensive wireless headphones, PUMP 2 HD Multi-Sport Bluetooth Headphones, are available from BlueAnt for $100.
Why Apple ditched the headphone jack
Apple got rid of the headphone jack for a few reasons, according to an interview Apple executives gave to Buzzfeed.
Practically speaking, the headphone jack takes up too much space that could better be used for camera components, while the jack also makes it difficult to waterproof the phone. Plus, the headphone jack is simply too old, executives said.
“That’s a 50-year-old piece of technology,” the chief marketing officer Rene Oehlerking at headphone maker Jaybird told FoxNews.com.
“The technology that you’re plugging into is exactly the same technology that you plugged into with your Walkman that Sony invented. So, that connection to the device is antiquated,” he said. (The Walkman was first marketed in 1979.)
“[Apple] launched the Apple Watch last year and that’s got no headphone jack. So, it’s already happening,” he added. Oehlerking also pointed out that for the first time sales of wireless earphones and headphones exceeded that of wired, according to data from market researcher NPD.
Market researcher IHS Technology says that Apple’s wireless earphone offerings are comparable with products already on the market. “Apple’s new products match, rather than exceed, the technological envelope already created by competitors in the audio and mobile accessories markets,” IHS said in its analysis sent to the media on Wednesday.
“However, when taken in combination with the [new Apple] W1 chipset, a rise in convenience is offset by a...move by Apple to move iOS device owners’ accessories purchases away from third parties and industry standards, and more distinctly into Apple’s own product families,” IHS said.