With his iPhone 7 review, Walt Mossberg proves you can’t teach an old dog new tricks -no matter how simple

“At a glance, you’d be hard-pressed to tell Apple’s new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models, which go on sale Friday, from their 2015 and 2014 counterparts. They look almost identical and are the same sizes. But once you get your hands on them, the differences are clear: Better cameras, longer battery life, water resistance, doubled memory at essentially the same prices and more,” Walt Mossberg writes for Recode. “Oh, and upon closer inspection, you’ll notice something else: The disappearance of the age-old, standard, perfectly fine audio jack that fits every earbud and headphone you own. Yeah, I know. I’m not crazy about that change either.”

“The most important thing about the 2016 iteration of the iPhone is that, overall, it takes a truly excellent smartphone and makes it significantly better in a host of ways, even without overhauling the exterior design and despite the removal of the standard audio jack,” Mossberg writes. “Yes, Apple has a long history of removing (and also pioneering) standard components, going back to the removal of the floppy disk from the first iMac in 1998… The company is clearly trying to move the whole industry towards wireless audio, which has never been great due to patchy Bluetooth connectivity, poor fidelity — especially for music — and limited battery life.”

The top rear of Apple's new iPhone 7 Plus in Jet Black
The top rear of Apple’s new iPhone 7 Plus in Jet Black

 
“As a transition, the iPhone 7 includes Apple’s familiar white earbuds — and a free adapter — only with a Lightning connector at the end instead of the standard audio plug. It sounds the same. But now you can no longer charge your phone while making long phone calls or listening to music without a bulky adapter or dock. I label that worse, not better,” Mossberg writes. “Apple says very few people do charge and listen at the same time. I respectfully disagree.”

Full review here.

MacDailyNews Take: Walt is disturbingly fixated on the headphone jack throughout one of his worst, most curmudgeonly reviews on record.

We’d venture to guess that Apple has slightly better data on how many users perform the very particular act of charging while listening via wired headphones than Mossberg. Just because Walt seems to perform this rather unique use case doesn’t mean everyone else does. You know, the difference between empirical and anecdotal data can be rather huge. As for charging while listening via wired headphones, we, for another anecdotal example like Walt’s, have never done it. The only time we listen while charging is in the car (the sound comes out of the car’s stereo speakers, obviously) or when the iPhone is sitting in a dock of an older, still pristine-sounding Bose speaker without Bluetooth (the sound comes out of the Bose speaker, of course).

You can certainly make a long phone call while charging by using the iPhone’s built-in stereo speakers or the Bluetooth headsets (BTW, if your phone call goes over 5 hours, you needed to hang up at least four hours ago). That said, we hardly ever even use the telephone (voice, how quaint), but we’re of a different, younger generation than Walt. Spring for Belkin’s $39.95 Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar (available October 10th), Walt.

When your review is tinged throughout by the fact that you can’t sit around making 5+ hour phone calls wearing wired headphones (wouldn’t that start to get annoying on/in your ears after the first, oh, three hours, anyway?) while charging (even though the iPhone you’re reviewing has battery that delivers up to 21 hours of talk time (negating the need to charge while listening in the first place), then your review is fatally flawed.

With his review, Walt has accomplished one thing with aplomb. He’s proven the old saw correct: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks – no matter how simple.

SEE ALSO:
How to listen to music while charging your iPhone 7/Plus – September 13, 2016
The Verge reviews Apple’s iPhone 7/Plus: ‘The future in disguise’ – September 13, 2016
Customers begin queueing for Apple’s iPhone 7 five days ahead of release; pro line-sitters charging thousands to save a spot – September 13, 2016
No headphone jack? No problem: How to listen to music while you sync and charge your new iPhone 7/Plus – September 8, 2016

58 Comments

  1. Who cares about the headphone jack. Get over it. You can use the easy adapter if you’re stuck with a non-wireless headset. Oh there will be cries of hate, and Apple is doomed, but just get over it. The industry is replacing a technology that has been around since the hand connected phone operators of the early 1900’s. I’m surprised some people are not still complaining about loosing the floppy drive and the buggy whip.

  2. Long in the tooth, Post PC, MicroDolt. Makes me miss Steve Ballmer… At least he jumped around. All poor Moss does, is sit in the chair floundering for words of his great tech wizdoms.

    1. The only problem with that lightning dock is that you then need another pair of headphones (with a 3.5mm plug), since you won’t be able to plug in the pair that comes with the phone (it needs a lightning connector, which is occupied by the charging cable).

        1. That won’t work.

          In order to charge and listen at the same time, your phone needs to have two lightning connectors: one for the charging cable, the other for the headphones. Lightning dock has one lightning connector (to plug in the charging cable), a male lightning connector (which goes into the phone) and a 3.5mm headphones connector. If you only have the headphones that came with your iPhone 7, you will have no place to plug them in. In order to listen, you would need old-school headphones with 3.5mm connector.

          Currently, neither Apple, nor any other maker, has an adapter that provides a through-connection for Lightning (or a lightning splitter, or anything similar) that would allow two separate lightning devices (charging cable, plus headphones) to be connected to the phone.

  3. I’ve been using the 3.5mm headphone jack for my entire, already rather long life and, by golly, I’m going to whine my tired, old ass off if I can’t anymore. I don’t like your highfalutin’ Lightning whatsedoozie! Back when I was a kid, you could get a headphone plug for a nickel! NOW GET OFF MY DAMN LAWN!!!

    1. I’m trying to figure out whether this was the real Walt taking a moment to show his sense of self-efacing humor here, or if it is someone poking fun at Walt. I’m leaning towards the latter, but can’t exclude the possibility…

      Either way, it is funny.

  4. …”“Apple says very few people do charge and listen at the same time. I respectfully disagree.”

    He may disagree, but unless he has some data that confirms that, his disagreement is irrelevant. When Apple says that very few people do charge and listen at the same time, one of the two things will be behind that statement: either Apple’s PR is trying to neuter the argument (charging/listening), which is likely, or Apple has done their homework, surveyed their audience usage habits and determined that very few people listen and charge at the same time, which is much more likely behind the statement. Apple has done this thing many, many times over the past decades. Every time they did it, it was a result of evaluation of usage habits of existing owners. This is the reason why we saw disappearance of NUBUS, SCSI, ADB, ADC, modem, Ethernet, FrontRow remote, Firewire 400, Firewire 800, PC card slot, ExpressCard slot, optical drive… There is a lot more, this is just off the top of my head. These were eliminated because very few people actually used them.

    1. Yep. I *never* charge and talk on the phone at the same time. I only charge and listen to music when I climb into bed, and then a blue tooth speaker is actually better anyway. (I haven’t done that yet, but will soon, and it won’t be a big deal!)

      Also note that in order to be charging and doing anything else, you are either 1) attached to a wall, so the dongle won’t matter, or 2) attached to a battery, which in and of itself is already a dongle of sorts. STUPID argument!

    2. My issue: my car does not have Bluetooth, so I have to connect my iPhone to the sound system with a 3.5mm cable. With no such jack on the iPhone 7, I will have to use the adapter. That prevents me from plugging the phone into a charger without yet another clumsy accessory like a Lightning Dock. My mother lives 590 miles from here, so the phone battery is likely to go flat if I try to listen to music for most of the trip. Since cell service is poor in West Texas, the phone uses a lot of extra power hunting for a signal. I guess I could buy a new car, but I will probably just go back to using my iPhone for voice and data and a separate iPod for music.

  5. As my anecdotal data, there are 2 things that annoyed me about wired headphones:
    (a) a slight motion of the jack often causes crashing noises
    (b) the wires ripped my earPods out (and nothing else did)
    Both problems solved with airPods.

  6. Wow! The biggest non issue about the new iPhone, and that’s all these idiot tech media types can talk about? Who gives a &*#@**! about the stupid headphone jack? Get a bluetooth speaker (they sound awesome) or headphone, and get on with the program. Old Walt must be getting senile. He probably still misses his 8track tapes.

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