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Ignore The Angry Mob, Ditching The Headphone Jack On iPhone 7 Was The Right Call

12/09/2016 17:03
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Apple's removal of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 has, as was entirely expected, caused something of a minor uproar among consumers.

We've never really been good at change though have we, remember the time that Apple supposedly shot itself in the foot by switching from those enormous charging ports on the iPhone 4 to the Lightning cable on the iPhone 5.

The pitchforks came out as literally thousands of people discovered that their new iPhone 5 wouldn't be compatible with their old cables or iPod docks. Apple released an adaptor for that too, but it didn't stop us, we hate change.

We're more than happy to keep an outdated piece of technology through no reason other than convenience and then start hurling abuse when Apple doesn't "innovate".

Let me be clear, I'm not saying our complaints weren't without merit. Big changes like this are expensive for the consumer and while an iPhone isn't a basic human right it is frustrating to have to constantly invest financially in change. Just look at the arrival of 4K and HDR TVs; It seems we've only just got used to having a Full-HD television and already there's something that's offering 4x the picture quality, for a price of course.

playstation 4 pro

Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro offers stunning graphics and better visual quality, but only if you have a 4K HDR TV.

Apple ditched the headphone jack because it was old, large and probably the only part of an iPhone that didn't actually feel very 'Apple'. The company has been doing this for years, just look at this astonishing interview with Steve Jobs.

Also just to clarify, I'm very aware that if there's one company that doesn't need its battles being fought for it, it's Apple. Don't confuse this then as a piece which places all of the praise at Tim Cook's feet. Apple aren't the only company that's taking away the headphone jack, but they are the company where it will have the greatest impact, and that's why it's worth talking about.

So what do we do now? Well the future is wireless, digital headphones. It's a tough sell I'll admit. Wireless headphones have long-suffered a stigma of being bulky, expensive and impractical. To be quite frank though, that's just not true anymore.

Moore's Law might have slowed down but this year has demonstrated more than anything that while the silicon itself isn't getting smaller, the ways in which we're using it are advancing at an alarming pace.

Every single morning and evening I commute with a pair of PowerBeats2 Wireless; they weren't cheap (they cost me £169) but they're worth every penny. They can't compete in terms of audio quality with my B&W P5s (I love music) but they're ultra-light, waterproof, have a battery life that'll last me over two days of commuting and connect quickly and easily. I've never once had the signal drop out and through software updates I know they'll continue to get better.

The PowerBeats is just one example in a whole wave of new wireless headphones that can perform just as well as a pair of old analog cans and in some cases, far exceed them. Products like Jabra's new Elite Sport headphones effectively give us a personal trainer in our ear. Sony's Xperia Ear might not be perfect but it's a first step towards a digital personal assistant which you can talk to like a human adult.

iphone 7

Apple's solution to wireless headphones: The Apple AirPods.

Then you have Apple's own innovation, the W1 audio chip; a tiny processor that gives Apple and Beats headphones a 'brain'. The W1 allows headphones to be joined once to all your Apple devices, then when you want to switch across between device the experience is invisible. No searching through Bluetooth menus and re-pairing every single time.

Add all of these together and I think you have a pretty strong argument in favour of giving your headphones a wireless upgrade. As I said before, we hate change but sometimes we do need a little nudge in the right direction.

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