Can Apple Make Listening Easy Without A Headphone Jack

With the new iPhones coming out today, I wanted to revisit the whole Apple vs. headphone jack fiasco. If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably got some strong opinions on this one—as do I. However, I want to approach this topic as a matter-of-fact discussion of the industry and not simply a venting of frustrations. We’re going to answer the title of this article in plain terms with little room for debate. As this article is like the countless others that follow Betteridge’s law of headlines, Journalism wonks already know the answer to that question: but it’s a subject worthy of complete exploration.

You see, I’m very disturbed by the trend of Android manufacturers affirming the false notion that Apple is a “tech leader” in ditching what is easily the cheapest, best, and most-used solution to audio on the go: The TRRS connector. While it’s understandable that many look to Apple as a leader in the tech world, in this case the headphone jack fiasco was nothing more than an attempt at a hostile takeover of the headphone industry, and Android may be the only thing standing in the way of that.

The main question here has several parts to it, so we should define some key ideas. Namely, we need to know:

  1. What makes a good phone?
  2. What’s the benefit of a headphone jack?
  3. Is Bluetooth good enough to replace it?
  4. Why would Apple ditch it?

I’ll try to answer these as briefly as possible, but some of these need to be truncated for readability.

Editor’s note: this article was updated September 13, 2018 to reflect updates in Apple’s business strategy.

What makes a good smartphone?

An illustration of the early hand-axes created by Homo Erectus.>

Early hand-axes created by Homo Erectus. Like smartphones, their users cared only if they worked—and threw them out if they didn’t.

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