iPhone 7 and the Audiophile Case For Lightning Headphones


macrumors 6502
Jun 24, 2010
I'm really sick of this now. This is not an innovation in any way. Lightning headphones work TODAY in our current iPhones. I own a pair that cost close to $300 and are not that great. I use them wired now. It is more convenient and I prefer the sound signature that way.

But again... Removing something is NOT innovation. Lightning headphones can and do already exist... And they haven't become popular for a reason (because they have very little reason to exist).

Let's not heap praise where no praise is warranted. You can use these headphones today. Go buy some. Apparently it is the future.

Chupa Chupa

macrumors G5
Jul 16, 2002
I disagree with the entire premise here. First, sound is subjective, but mostly digital audio is not defacto better than analog, it's just different. Like most every comparison between two things, there are pros and cons to each. But the fact that LPs still exist, sold to so-called "audiophiles," I think speaks to the unique qualities of analog audio.

Personally, would I rather listen to an AAD CD of Beethoven's 9th ripped as a lossless, less compressed ALAC than a severely compressed digitally recorded & mastered 256kbps AAC from iTunes. Listening to either via lightning-equipped earbuds or headphones isn't going to improve the sound of either though. The recording is the recording. A good headset can faithfully reproduce the recording, bad ones betray it. But again, that is the quality of the headphones, not the connector.

Maybe Apple will make the case for why the headphone jack needed to be removed -- maybe as a precursor to a bendable OLED phone as we saw posted here yesterday. But let's not kid ourselves that the lightning jack is going to make bad audio sound great because it's digital.

Also, if Apple takes this direction a proprietary audio input is unacceptable. Apple will need to not only freely license the lightning port with very open terms of use for audio, but also promote it as the new standard. To this effect Apple might even donate the technology to a trade organization similar to the USB Implementers Forum or HDMI Licensing to oversee implementation and future research.


macrumors 68020
Aug 29, 2009
The phone's thicker for the cellular/wifi radio and the additional battery needed to power the screen and radios and processor. Looking at a teardown of the 6s and plus, there's literally no more room inside the phone for anything at this point. The only way to get more space is to either shrink internal components or remove components.
So by that logic, the only way to make the iPhone thinner is to remove the phone part itself. That means removing the 3.5mm jack is completely irrelevant.


macrumors member
Oct 9, 2014
I'm so looking forward to this and have since the rumors started about this. Here's how I see it, and why I'm in favor -

I'm taking a guess that either at WWDC (which makes more sense) or during the September iPhone event, they're going to announce hi res audio via Apple music. Having used Tidal lossless before (and still would except I like Siri's apple music integration) the difference in audio quality even on 3.5mm is night and day. When using a lightning adapter to bypass Apple's DAC, the quality only improves. Apple being Apple, they won't do lossless streaming (but I'd pay $20 a month instead of $10 if they did), they'll do 'good enough' hi res.

I'm also thinking that the elimination of the headphone jack is future planning and hardware obsolescence. Granted, as of NOW, everyone has a 3.5 headphone jack on their devices and not just cell phones, of course. But you used to be able to play cassettes everywhere too and that's all gone. Apple always gets called foolish each time they eliminate a peripheral connection, and each time they've ended up just being ahead of the curve...which allows them to be on the front lines of establishing a standard that they want to see be the standard. Except thunderbolt. Can't win them all. If you can at least get people thinking about and accepting the fact that they can get audio differently than they used to, just like people were convinced to get data from somewhere other than a floppy disc, or a CD, then you can make people move on to use a new standard. If you lock them into your standard, they'll be less likely to switch later. It's business.

Finally, I think this is leading up to the 2017 iPhone 8. They aren't getting rid of the jack for this phone because, truth be told, they don't have to. It's going to be identical to the 6s save a new processor and maybe another gig of RAM. This is setting up next year's phone. They're going to need that space for more battery for whatever processor they're working on and to drive an (edge to edge maybe?) OLED screen without sacrificing battery life. Plus, I'm guessing for the 10th anniversary phone, they're going to throw in the kitchen sink in order to jump past the competition now that they're moving from a tick tock cycle. They'll need a big boost on year one to keep the momentum through two more years afterwards until the next major redesign.

Just my opinions.
So by that logic, the only way to make the iPhone thinner is to remove the phone part itself. That means removing the 3.5mm jack is completely irrelevant.
But the 3.5mm is the one component that can't be made thinner. You can thin out memory, shrink a processor, etc. But because a 3.5mm thick piece of hardware has to fit into that jack, the phone can never be any thinner than that. Plus it takes up space in an already cramped phone casing.


macrumors newbie
Nov 9, 2015
I find this unacceptable. Why would I want to buy headphones that work with my iPhone and my iPhone only? I can't even connect them to my Mac (not even speaking of other Hardware)? In my eyes this is doomed to fail...

The only possibly acceptable solution for me would be to get rid of the 3.5mm and then also replacing the Lightning Port with USB-C... The new Macs will all have USB-C. There could be headphones that work with all of Apple's Hardware and also other Computers/Phones! But I don't think a port change like this in the iPhone is going to happen now.

Who remembers how all their old 30pin accessories got obsolete from one day to the other and had to gradually be replaced? Welcome to Lightning where you will now - one day - also have to replace your expensive Headphones... I would never buy into such Headphones and go Bluetooth if need be (seems much more universal and a little more "future proof")...

Also my poor $500 3.5mm AKGs seem to have seen their best days - and that makes me sad...

One more thought/question: Who thinks the new Macs introduced soon will have a Lightning port so you can use your next headphones with it? I certainly don't think so... and that only shows how limited such headphones are... I'm telling you only USB-C could work...
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macrumors 6502
Sep 7, 2008
THIS is the change they should have made on the new MacBook. I THINK opposite the USB-C connector (which is on the left) is the headphone jack (which is on the right). If they replace that headphone jack with another USB-C, then I think one of the chief objections of many (including me) would be addressed. Of course, there should be an adapter included, or sold relatively inexpensively. Fat chance, but that would be a large improvement to that machine.
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macrumors newbie
Nov 9, 2015
Also if Apple's argument is truly "thinness". No one needs thinner phones. Fill it with more battery instead!
And if you really need to go thin: There is also an 2.5mm option already out there... There goes another 1mm!

As for the argument of audio quality I think many have mentioned that no one will actually see a difference with how they consume their music. Those who want can already opt for Lightning headphones... so no need to change things by this argument.


macrumors 68030
Apr 23, 2013
Yeah, no thanks.

That connector looks ridiculously fragile with the way it's sticking out. One wrong move and you'll snap off the lightning connector inside the phone, rendering both devices inoperable (or damaged, depending on if anything shorts out).

Of course, I'm sure Apple is banking on this. It's a great way to sell more iPhones and headphones while they're at it.

What, you mean like a 3.5mm jack can break off? There will be good quality and bad build quality headphones, just like there is now. Was there an incredible rush of broken lightning connectors when it was introduced? (Answer: no).

To hate on lightning connectors for that reason is just outright silly.
Here's a thought; current iPhones have a lightning port AND a headphone jack. Is there any reason why Apple can't keep both but pack bluetooth or lightning earbuds with the phone if that's the standard they want to promote? By all means, advance audio technology, but there's no need to make it an all or nothing transition. Legacy ports and backwards compatibility are almost always welcome features in technology. Best of both worlds.
Not a bad idea, but that's not the Apple way. It would probably have no effect moving people into the new standard though, so in the end we achieve nothing.
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macrumors 604
Mar 24, 2010
Any place but here or there....
For me, $30 is too much for headphones :confused: and I have to say I am not liking my experiences with my old wired sony headphones on the 6s. I've never had so many problems with them tangling up etc. Granted these were cheapie headphones ($9 at Amazon at the time), but still.

I suppose if anything pushes me toward the 5SE and iPad combo, it'll be this. Actually, I have no problems watching subtitled movies silently so that is a solution too. I really only play the tunes while walking or to shut people's conversations out now. These headphones are also too big for me, I like discreet lightweight small headphones.


macrumors 68030
Apr 23, 2013
I believe your brain would be ok with the exercise that requires untangling a headphone cable. I mean, how much more lazy a human can be?
It's just the current trend. Have a look at the current crop of wireless earbud headphones, a lot have flat cables.

I'm looking at buying a set now and compared to how easily my current Sony wired phones tangle I'm looking forward to the change.


macrumors 603
Sep 20, 2006
There & Back Again
They make a valid argument. I don't use headphones enough to freak out about good or poorly processed sound.

"I don't always use headphones, but when I do, I use my Bose QC15's"


macrumors 6502a
Jul 11, 2009
Flat cables don't tangle
I use a flat ethernet cable on my MBP and it tangles more than any other cable attached to it. Its horrible. Dont see why a flat lightning cable would be any less tangle-resistant. Although I concede that I could be wrong.


macrumors 6502a
Jul 24, 2010
Carmel, California
Delegating DAC/amp job to the headphone, especially considering power delivery from the phone to the amp for proper headphone amplification, is a welcome change (sorry I'm an audiophile), BUT Lightning connector for that purpose? Nope.

Gotta be USB-C or it's going to flop.

Paying Apple tax even for headphones? Expensive headphones ONLY usable on iPhones and nothing else? There will be many other platforms that will be serving digital audio over USB-C in the near future, and these Lightning headphones are going to be very niche, narrowing choices, and unnecessarily expensive. No thanks.
I would think 800.00 headphones would come with both USB C and Lightning cables.


macrumors 6502a
Jun 15, 2012
Wouldn't R&D into better wireless standards be a better route? People complain about bluetooth being substandard quality. I'd much prefer to see investment into improved wireless tech that would offer sound reproduction in line with wired.


macrumors 68030
Apr 23, 2013
Forcing me to spend £40 regularly on a adapter lighting to 3.5mm which then means I can't charge while listening to music.

How long is this adapter really going to last being pull out of a pocket multiple times a day?
At the moment we would have no idea on the price range of any adapters.

If you buy an Apple adapter, based on how long their lightning and MacBook chargers last, admittedly not long. Buy a third party one from a reputable brand and probably a lifetime.
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macrumors member
May 6, 2016
Ocala, Floridah
Yep. This makes perfect sense for the majority of users, right?

Oh wait. Nearly everyone listens at 256kbps or less, from Apple Music streaming, iTunes MP3s or old CD rips.

The convenience lost ≠ the audio quality gained, for average joe.
There are no headphones ...with any kind of conductor that can make Hip Hop/Rap music sound better.


macrumors 603
Jun 22, 2007
TheVerge are only filled with ignorant people pretending to be "geeks" because they use iPhones and get to use review units. They do not represent actual users since their sense of value is highly distorted.


macrumors 68030
Apr 23, 2013
The first iPhone model without the 3.5 audio jack and lightning only headphones option will sink!

Mid-year or next change will bring back the 3.5 audio jack, located at the top of the iPhone!

The next model may look like the iPhone 4s anyway, with front and back glass - so the headphone jack at the top will be great.
I would be willing to bet you're wrong. Apple won't reverse course once the direction has been set. You might still find a 3.5mm on an entry level model, but they won't add it back in once removed.

Have they ever rolled back any other changes? (Not counting when they decide not to adopt a particular tech and then change their mind, which is a different scenario). I'm thinking FireWire / USB, floppy drives, flash on mobile, optical drives and maps.
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macrumors 68020
Mar 23, 2012
I'd probably just opt for BT instead since I've been using Bose qc35 for nearly a month now (amazon vine reviewers get a lot of toys..lol). The iphone 7 still hasn't had a rumor that would interest me in buying one and selling the 6S.