The iPhone 7 will do away with the standard 3.5-millimeter headphone jack in favor of delivering audio through Apple's proprietary Lightning port.

Starting tomorrow, we'll all wake up in a brave new world as Apple, in its infinite wisdom, ushers in an age free of the oppressive tyranny of the headphone jack.

The unveiling of the iPhone 7 last week was accompanied by the usual litany of excited talking points praising its features, including a water- and dust-resistant case, improved rear-facing camera and a brighter, cinema-standard screen.

But the most talked about point among consumers wasn't what the new iPhone was packing but what was missing.

Halfway through his breakdown of the iPhone 7, Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller announced that the new phone — and presumably all future iOS products — would do away with the 3.5-millimeter headphone jack in favor of delivering audio through its proprietary Lightning port.

Rumors of this move had circulated for months, and Apple clearly knew the furor it would stir up. Schiller spent several minutes explaining the decision, somewhat laughably, as "coming down to one word: courage — the courage to move on and do something new that betters all of us."

He elaborated, less ridiculously, that they had to get rid of the jack to make room for additional hardware, such as better processors and bigger batteries.

"Maintaining an ancient, single-purpose connector doesn't make sense because that space is at a premium," he said.

Graciously, Apple is packaging each iPhone 7 with a pair of Lightning ear pods and an adapter for "the people of the world" — i.e. most of us — who still own devices that require a headphone jack. Seeing as this adapter looks absurdly easy to lose and undoubtedly will be expensive to replace, that seems a concession that's both poor and ultimately self-serving.

Apple has led the charge in steering the industry away from "outmoded" standards before, such as doing away with floppy and optical disc drives. In those cases, however, it wasn't forcing consumers to replace them with a proprietary standard.

As someone who loves my Shure SRH440 wired headphones, I'm concerned about what this augurs for the future of consumer audio. I can't see companies like Samsung integrating Apple's standard into their devices, so this seems destined to divide the market, forcing headphone makers to choose between an established standard used by literally billions of devices and kowtowing to Apple and its smaller, if still desirable, customer base.

Who knows? Maybe Apple's wisdom will bear out in time, but right now, this shift to Lightning has left me thunderstruck.

Contact Casey Phillips at or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.


ChattanoogaNow Sections