Phil Schiller explains why Apple dropped the SD card slot but kept the 3.5mm headphone jack in new MacBook Pros

“Last week, Apple launched its latest MacBook Pro laptops. They are deluxe, powerful machines with innovations including the Touch Bar, where the top row of function keys is replaced by a touch-sensitive screen where different functions appear, changing as you change programs,” David Phelan reports for The Independent. “The new models also have a fingerprint sensor built into the power button, to buy stuff online faster than you can say ‘impulse purchase.'”

“In this exclusive interview, Philip Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, told The Independent all about them,” Phelan reports. “We first talked in an Apple-white private room at Infinite Loop, the company’s Californian headquarters, minutes after the new laptops had been unveiled and followed up a few days later…”

Two snippets:

The new Pros have no SD card slot for a camera memory card. Why not?

Because of a couple of things. One, it’s a bit of a cumbersome slot. You’ve got this thing sticking halfway out. Then there are very fine and fast USB card readers, and then you can use CompactFlash as well as SD. So we could never really resolve this – we picked SD because more consumer cameras have SD but you can only pick one. So, that was a bit of a trade-off. And then more and more cameras are starting to build wireless transfer into the camera. That’s proving very useful. So we think there’s a path forward where you can use a physical adaptor if you want, or do wireless transfer.

Is it inconsistent to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack as it’s no longer on the latest iPhone?

Not at all. These are pro machines. If it was just about headphones then it doesn’t need to be there, we believe that wireless is a great solution for headphones. But many users have setups with studio monitors, amps, and other pro audio gear that do not have wireless solutions and need the 3.5mm jack.

Read more in the full interview here.

MacDailyNews Take: Of course, a simple $9 Lightning to 3.5mm adapter could easily resolve that issue, just as it does for the iPhone. Apple should have been consistent. A swift chop of the axe. If you’re going to kill the 3.5mm anachronism, don’t prolong the agony, be merciful and do it as quickly as possible.

As for the SD Card slot: If you’re not doing wireless transfer by now, you should be. Go get yourself a wireless SD Card already!

Phil Schiller: Apple has more orders for MacBook Pro with Touch Bar than for any other professional Mac notebook ever – November 2, 2016
The debate is over: IBM confirms that Apple Macs are $535 less expensive than Windows PCs – October 20, 2016
The key mission of Apple’s new MacBook Pros – October 28, 2016
TIME Magazine: Apple’s new MacBook Pro Touch Bar is an inventive new way to get work done more quickly – October 28, 2016
Apple does touch right and, as usual, Microsoft does it wrong – October 28, 2016
IBT: Apple’s MacBook Pro Touch Bar is the coolest thing ever; will change the way we use laptops – October 28, 2016
Wired hands on with Apple’s New MacBook Pro: It’s a whole new kind of laptop – October 27, 2016
CNET on the new MacBook Pro: Apple’s amazing strip show reinvents the notebook – October 27, 2016
Hands on with Apple’s new MacBook Pro: Looks and feels so good it’s unreal – October 27, 2016
Apple debuts three new TV ads for all-new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar – October 27, 2016
Apple unveils groundbreaking new MacBook Pro with revolutionary Touch Bar and huge Force Touch trackpad – October 27, 2016


  1. So he’s saying that an adaptor does compromise the sound quality? I can’t see any argument as to why a phone wouldn’t need it but a laptop would. If it’s the technological advantages then surely that applies even more for a so called pro product, if it’s for space saving then he has admitted they wanted to save space by getting rid of the sd card slot. Ultimately it’s not a deal breaker, but it only raises questions.

    1. Yet we all know the reality is that we have never needed any of the adapters that Tim Cook espoused and initiated.

      I think everyone can now see that killing the 30-pin was a money grab by Cook. Now each and every chance he gets he strategically strips away ports and purposely dumbs down systems to increase revenue. The 3.5mm was removed from Apple’s cash cow product for this very reason.

      The problem is that the market and consumers have finally figured out greedy Cook’s strategy. Thus AAPL is tanking and consumers are ignoring Cook’s stripped down and outrageously priced products.

  2. Virtually all recent Macs (at least five years back) had a combo analogue/digital out on that 3.5mm jack. In addition to the standard TRSS (tip-ring-sleeve-sleeve) jack carrying analogue stereo output, as well as analogue microphone input, the jack also had S/PDIF (“mini toslink”) optical digital output, supporting up to 24bit resolution and 96kHz sampling rate.

    The specs for the new MBP don’t mention this output, but Apple often neglected to mention it in the basic specs for the prior models as well. Very few people even knew they had it, and even fewer have ever used it.

    With Apple’s merciless cutting of features that few people use, I can’t imagine how this optical digital output survived all these years.

  3. I’m sorry, MDN, but putting a lightning connector just for an audio out would be stupid. A professional should never be using the 3.5mm audio jack on a computer for their work. They should be using a Thunderbolt or USB audio interface.

    1. And *both* of your arguments justify removing the 3.5mm jack. Yours is certainly the better argument – I’ve never used anything but digital out to my audio interface, and only then does it get converted to analog, through either monitors or headphones.

      Now my phone uses that 3.5mm jack for headphones all the time. Totally stupid on Apple’s part to justify this one as “pro” so it gets to keep it.

  4. My new Sony alpha a6300 has wifi built in and transfers full res 24.2 megapixel raw images easily to my Macs and my iPad or iPhone. It’s very simple and straightforward and avoids carrying any adapters whatsoever. My a7 II also has this capability, and it’s awesome. I haven’t used the SD slot in a long time.

  5. Don’t forget that many pros use the digital audio portion of the dual function 3.5mm port in the pro laptop for audio production (and for a home theater computer to receiver/monitor connection like the mini). So, dump the port, get yet another adapter and dongle to replace it? Silly. The 3.5mm digital audio port is brilliant in my experience.

  6. “Because of a couple of things. One, it’s a bit of a cumbersome slot. You’ve got this thing sticking halfway out.”

    Of all of the computers I have used a SD card slot on, Mac’s are the only ones that leave the card sticking half way out. The others use a push to release system similar to most cameras. When the card is in, it is flush with the case of the computer.

  7. Ironically, I use the headphone jack on my iPhone to connect to professional audio equipment, but use the lightning or USB ports on my iMac and MacBook to connect to professional audio equipment.

    While the audio quality on the headphone port is pretty decent, I usually need to use more than two channels of audio, so an external audio interface is the best solution. Similarly I often need to make recordings in higher bit rates and with 24 bit resolution, so an external audio interface is needed .

    I would have thought that if a pro user were using a MacBook pro in the sort of roles that Schiller is hinting at, the most convenient way to connect to the external equipment would be via a single USB3 connector, which could handle power, multi channel audio and the feed to an external monitor. A USB hub would then provide similar functionally to a docking station, but would just use that single connector. The MacBook can then be disconnected or reconnected in an instant.

    I’m not at all convinced by Schiller’s explanation as it does sound inconsistent and doesn’t fit with how I see people using MacBooks for audio and video tasks, but there again, I was never in favour of eliminating the headphone jack in the first place.

  8. Smaller form factor = less materials
    No magsafe
    No sd card reader
    RAM not upgradable
    No standard usb 3.0 ports
    No included usb-c to usb 3.0 adapter (to connect iOS devices AND the card readers mentioneb by Phill Schiller)


    IT CO$T$ A LOT!!!!

    So Mac users are supposed to pay MORE for LESS?

    1. Look at the connectivity we lost…

      MagSafe. <- Dongle needed to duplicate functionality
      USA-A 3.0 <- Dongle needed or hub to convert to USB type A connector
      HDMI <- Dongle needed for USB-C to HDMI
      Display Port. <- Dongle needed for USB-C to DisplayPort
      SD Card <- Dongle needed for USB-C to USB type A connector to camera, or get a card reader
      Thunderbolt Connectors <- Dongle needed for Thunderbolt via USB-C
      TOSLink Digital Audio connector <- Dongle needed (if available) or get gear for new USB-C connection
      Ethernet <- Port is not used that much anymore, but nice to have.

      The ability to connect an iPhone to a new MacBook Pro without buying a dongle or a new USB-C to Lightning

      It's all about the dongles.

  9. “Go get yourself a wireless sdcard” – spoken like someone who never touches a camera, and never used wireless SDcards.

    Speed is the issue. Wireless transfers are still SLOW.

    Pick up a simple SD adapter, or better yet, one of the better multi adapters that include SD card slot.

  10. In my opinion a MacBook Pro should still have an SD card slot. BS if it doesn’t support compact flash. That’s not a reason to eliminate it.

    I use my SD card slot every time I shoot with my Nikon SLR.

    One of the cool things about the slot was the ability to have small, affordable, removable storage. It could be used for photo libraries, libraries, all sorts of things.

    I’m sad to see it go. I know even at a consumer level a lot of people chose the 13″ MBA over the 11″ MBA due to the 11″ MBA not having an SD card slot.

  11. Think about this – walk into an Apple Store and walk out with a new iPhone 7 and MacBook Pro. Hey it’s that great Apple ecosystem. It all works together while singing Kumbaya.
    YOU CANNOT PLUG YOUR IPHONE INTO THE MACBOOK for video transfer or an iTunes backup, or more importantly for charging. And those EarPods that came with your iPhone? Fucking useless on the MBP. Is there even a USB-C to Lightning dongle?
    It’s like two different teams work on Mac and iOS products and don’t talk to each other. Jobs would have thrown the MBP across a room. Cook glanced at it and asked if it can be anodized to Rose Gold after giving it a thumbs up.

  12. Different design teams, or sub-teams, operate at different speeds. A clean break would have been better, but tooling and such just probably couldn’t be coordinated that well.

    Phil Schiller is a salesman; salesmen lie, especially at Apple where true motivations must NEVER be disclosed. His job is to put lipstick on the pig no matter how ugly that pig may be: everything is a better idea; no missteps are ever made.

    All ports should be consistent across all platforms: no Lightning vs USB-C. Unfortunately, it looks like USB-C will win that standard eventually even though the connector centered in the port is far worse than on the edge of the plug.

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