Apple is known for dumping legacy tech before the rest of the world catches up

“Apple has a reputation for discarding legacy features on their products well before their competition and sometimes before their time,” Phil Baker writes for Tech.pinions. “Each time it does so, it creates a firestorm of reaction. You might think Apple does it just for publicity’s sake.”

“But looking back, their decisions have generally proved to be insightful, if not always understood. I recall the fury over the sealed-in batteries that allowed Apple to reduce the size of their phones and notebooks,” Baker writes. “It was driven by design but also by longer lasting batteries. Everything Apple does has a strategic short term and long term purpose.”

“Now, Apple is rumored to be removing the venerable 3.5 mm headphone jack that’s been on nearly every portable radio, TV set and phone since the fifties,” Baker writes. “[If Apple does so, it won’t be] done on a whim or out of ignorance. While many of us may not agree, here are my nine reasons that likely led them to this decision…”

Nine reasons why Apple would kill the 3.5mm audio jack – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: And, a 10th reason:

Lightning headphones can do much more than just reproduce sound. For just one example, see Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,655,004: “Sports monitoring system for headphones, earbuds and/or headsets.”

Apple’s patent abstract: A monitoring system that can be placed proximate to the head or ear of a user is disclosed. According to one embodiment, the monitoring system can be used with headphones, earbuds or headsets. The monitoring system can, for example, be used to monitor user activity, such as during exercise or sporting activities. The positioning of the monitoring system can also facilitate sensing of other user characteristics (e.g., biometric data), such as temperature, perspiration and heart rate. The monitoring system can also be used to control a an electronic device. In one embodiment, the monitoring system facilitates user control of the electronic device using head gestures. More info here.

Of course, if you’d prefer no wires at all, you can just go Bluetooth. While working out, we’ve been using wireless Jaybirds for some time now (currently the Jaybird X2 Sport Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, around $100 at Amazon). They’re easy to charge, easy to pair, light and comfortable, sound great, and work perfectly with our Apple Watches and iPhones.

Over 300,000 sign petition demanding Apple retain 3.5mm headphone jack on next-gen iPhone – June 23, 2016
Apple iPhone 7 to offer ‘only subtle changes’ beyond dumping 3.5mm headphone jack for Lightning connector – June 21, 2016
iOS 9 code reveals Apple’s plans to dump 3.5mm headphone jack in future iPhones – January 20, 2016
Apple’s intention to kill the 3.5mm headphone jack is brilliant – January 13, 2016
iPhone 7 said to be waterproof, replace 3.5mm headphone jack with Apple’s Lightning – January 8, 2016
The fastest Lightning cable is also one of the least expensive – January 8, 2016
Apple will drop headphone jack to make the iPhone 7 super slim, source confirms; wireless charging and waterproof, too – January 7, 2016
Petition demands Apple keep 3.5mm headphone jack in the ‘iPhone 7’ – January 7, 2016
More reports claim Apple has dumped the 3.5mm headphone jack on iPhone 7 – January 5, 2016
Why Apple may axe the 3.5mm headphone jack – June 20, 2014
Apple may be poised to kill off the 3.5mm headphone jack – June 7, 2014
Apple may ditch analog 3.5mm headphone jack for Lightning to make thinner devices – June 6, 2014
Apple introduces MFi specs for Lightning cable headphones, iOS software update to deliver support – June 5, 2014
Apple preps HD audio for iOS 8 plus new Apple In-Ear Headphones and lightning cable – May 13, 2014
Apple patents biometric sensor-packed health monitoring earphones with ‘head gesture’ control – February 18, 2014
Apple paves way for more affordable iOS accessories with lower MFi and Lightning licensing fees – February 7, 2014


  1. The Apple Pencil is probably just the first of many examples of the use of Lightning-Charging-BlueTooth wireless connection to iOS and macOS devices.

    1. And that’s fine for a specialized accessory. But I can listen to music forever when using a wired headphone. Bluetooth is a severe battery drain.

      The problem with the 9 things listed in the attached article is that they were all about helping Apple. They weren’t about helping me.

  2. Um, the 3.5 mm minijack has been around since the 60s but enjoyed its biggest exposure with the Sony Walkman cassette player in the 70s (from Wikipedia)


    Modern phone connectors are available in three standard sizes. The original 1⁄4 in (6.35 mm) version dates from 1878, when it was used for manual telephone exchanges, making it possibly the oldest electrical connector standard still in use.

    The 3.5 mm or miniature and 2.5 mm or sub-miniature sizes were originally designed as two-conductor connectors for earpieces on transistor radios. The 3.5 mm connector, which is the most commonly used in portable application today, has been around at least since the Sony EFM-117J radio which was released in 1964.[6][7] It became very popular with its application on the Walkman in 1979.

  3. The article seemed a little over negative and cynical for me, we all know Apple can be a little selfish but on changes like this there is usually more up side than down and longer term massively so. I have been amazed for years how all this ultra modern and innovative tech still has this Stone Age looking peripheral connector. Surely it’s time to cut loose.

    1. For some people it’s never time to cut loose. It’s a wonder how any changes get made at all. There are always people desperately clinging to the past for all sorts of reasons. It’s almost as though old people got to die before the younger people make the changes. I’ve been using computers for nearly 40 years and things have always been changing. There’s no point in trying to stop the change because it’s going to happen whether you like it or not. Why get left behind? It never made that much of in impact on my life because some port or device got replaced. You deal with it and move on. You think I miss parallel ports and floppy drives? Hell, no. There’s always some short transition period and then it’s business as usual.

      I can’t believe people are whining about the 3.5mm jack disappearing and ruining their lives. It’s really so insignificant. It’s hardly the end of the world. I swear electronic devices have only improved over the years and I’m sure they’ll get even better in the future. Once 3.5mm jacks go bye-bye from Apple devices, five years from now, hardly anyone will remember those jacks existed.

      Remember the analog to digital TV transition and all the whining? Probably not. It’s ancient history. More forgotten than Julius Caesar.

  4. New Apple is as much about design for designs sake as functionality. The earphone jack is a nice way to get audio out of an iPhone. That is why it was used in the original design. I’m sure they could have used the audio leads out if the existing 20 pin connector at the time to eliminate that jack. I go back and forth about removable batteries, yes they make the design back cleaner, but many an iPhone iPad or I touch device has been list to liquid damage that could have been rescued if only the battery and a portion of the back cover been removed.

    Apple products of 2016 and going forward come with a big don’t touch sign. The newest MacBook has no replaceable parts, the phones tend to have minimal screws and loads of glue. I wonder if the world is ready for a car that you have to throw away because you can’t replace the battery or one of the engine components.

    1. I know what you mean. And it’s rather ironic – for a liberal company which makes a big deal about the environment, they’re not doing a very good job preserving the environment. Non-upgradeability makes things disposable after a few years because they become sluggish and can’t be upgraded. Getting rid of the headphone jack would only serve to stimulate headphone sales – or make customers leave iOS for Ubuntu Touch. The headphone jack doesn’t have to be removed just for people to use Lightning headphones or Bluetooth headphones.

      1. Because no matter what you think about Apple, the almighty dollar still rules, and is the main purpose for their existence, regardless of everything else you hear about Apple. They will make a mint selling either an adapter or new lighting accessories…

      2. What is the point od making replaceable bateries, expandable memory, upgrade able video card when practically nobody ever bothers replacing or upgrading, and vast majority of Macs, PCs and Androids ends up reaching the landfill (or recycling centre) with its original configuration and battery? Remember, before sealing up their Macs, Apple also used to make them upgradable and realized that almost nobody ever bothered upgrading. We here on MDN represent the outliers, the tech people who are capable of tinkering with their gear. Normal people simply never bother, and they are overwhelming majority. Same thing with cars: with he exception of a few tinkerers, nobody bothers replacing their own battery, spark plugs, distributor cap (remember that one?). From a manufacturer’s point of view, it is cheaper and much more reliable and robust if there are fewer movable, user-replaceable parts. I’d rather pay less for a Mac (or get a better Mac for the same money) than have a bunch of slots that I’ll never use, and a battery, video card and memory chips I’ll never replace or upgrade.

  5. Headphones/earbuds are disposable and easily breakable. I’m good with spending $10-12 to replace my headphones whenever they break every 4-6 months. I’m not cool with spending $30-$50 whenever they break every 4-6 months.

  6. As a former audio engineer, I have to say this is largely a DAC upgrade for consumers. The Digital Audio Converter in the iPhone is mediocre at best. A good pair of headphones with a built in DAC will blow away the same headphones using the converter in the phone. Saving space by removing a poor quality experience is an upgrade I can appreciate. I will happily ditch all older 3.5mm headphones to increase my audio quality. No adapters and keep your compressed Bluetooth wireless Beats as well.

    For you non audiophiles read up from the Verge:

    1. To be kind, ergonomics/comfort and appearance tend to trump audio fidelity for most portable headphone users. Understandably, these people are not interested in having to retire their preferred headphones or tomorrow be forced to buy overpriced white plastic adapters in order to do what they already do today.

      Design and progress at Apple are often at odds with one another. Ives’ obsession with oversimplification typically ends up with limitations and costs on the end user. Quality aside, the requirement for the user to use Bluetooth is dumb. People already have that option and it’s more frustrating than it’s worth. External DAC is not quite as bad but still one more expensive box that users don’t want attached to their headsets.

      It all comes down to choice. Today, with both a digital and an analog connector, the user can enjoy either low cost/simple analog or high quality/less portable/more expensive external DAC, or maybe he can use a wireless option (depends on a lot of factors there). Take away the analog option, and people have every right to complain or take their business elsewhere.

      As the vast majority of the world settles for cheap disposable earbuds or whatever plastic bass-boosted headphones are marketed to them, it’s clear what level of quality the current generation accepts. They’re not interested in lossless music, they have been raised on computer-generated sound, so fidelity and dynamic range is irrelevant.

      1. There are a lot of classical and jazz recordings where the dynamic range has been hopelessly compressed. It’s not something that is exclusively done to pop music.

        I have some recently recorded vinyl records where the recording is ruined by excessive compression. With CDs, the majority of the ones I buy have excessive compression.

  7. You can keep talking and talking, but you’re not going to convince me that the 3.5mm jack is a “legacy” tech. Just because it wasn’t invented recently doesn’t mean it’s “legacy”. The graphite pencil was arguably invented in the 16th century — not legacy. The transistor — not legacy. The speakers we all listen to — not legacy. Old does not equal bad.

    1. Perhaps a better way to state that is that legacy implies former existence. There is both good and bad legacy in the world. The 3.5mm audio jack and the graphite pencil are examples of the good. Apple accessories and proprietary greed-driven design choices like the APC connector and any Apple connector adapter are examples of the bad.

      I recently looked at a power cord for a micro USB device. Many choices, I picked up a simple meter cable in black. Above it was a row of Apple licensed products. Exactly the same cable as I chose with a Lightning connector was DOUBLE the price.

      I know Apple used to have to make money any way they could to stay alive, but today this kind of treatment of the user is reprehensible. Enough is enough, Apple.

    2. My Sennheiser headphones currently get plugged into more than a dozen different devices. If I bought a version with a lightning connector, I would only be able to plug them into my iPhone and not even into my iMac and certainly not into my HiFi or other devices.

      1. Totally agree here: I have a pair of Sennheiser gaming headphones with a USB connector that I can ONLY use on my gaming PC because, get this, drivers. $300 and they sound awesome when I’m walking around Skyrim listening to birds sing in trees behind me, but with every bit of specialization a normally universal device becomes less and less useful overall. Meanwhile my Sony studio monitors I can use anywhere I want… for now.

  8. One thing continually overlooked by those who want to ditch the 3.5mm jack is that only Apple will be using the Lightning port for the new standard.

    All other phone manufacturers that I’ve read about are adopting, or will be adopting, the USB-C port instead.

    Seeing as how the headphone manufacturers see Apple as a competitor (Beats), why would the other headphone manufacturers flock to the Lightning connector with its licensing costs?

  9. Good riddance! Back in the late 90s, when Apple dumped the floppy drive, I frantically ordered an external one. Maybe used it once then, a year later, went in the trash…

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.