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Stop moaning about the new iPhone 7

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David Cornish
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Calm down. Everyone just calm down. It's all going to be absolutely fine.

Better than fine - it's going to be great. Apple's decision to ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack is the kick into the future that the audio industry needed - and it doesn't leave anyone behind.

Apple's recent September event was perhaps its most important in recent years. Struggling for impact in the all important Eastern market (they buy a lot of smartphones) with slowing handset sales growth around the globe, rumours that the company was set to drop the universal 3.5mm headphone connection in a bid to save room and nudge consumers towards the delights of improved audio output hadn't gone down well.

As Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, took to the stage to introduce the world to the iPhone 7, he had one opportunity to convince everyone the move was a good idea, that it would improve audio for all, that it wasn't an excuse to get everyone to buy new Apple headphones and more cables. 

This was how he decided to spin it:

"The reason to move on? Courage. The courage to move on and do something new that betters all of us."

Which is bollocks really. Massive tech companies don't do "courageous" things - there is no pain or grief or fear involved in making smartphones and gadgets (unless, perhaps, you're talking to those working on the production lines of such handsets, or mining for the gold required to coat various internal components). It was a "bold" decision. A "dramatic shift from the norm". An "evolution". But not something based in "courage". 

The soundboard of Twitter was predictably acerbic. 

You can understand the frustration: for those who hadn't sat through Schiller's 30-minute-or-so ramblings about the new hardware of the iPhone 7, the headline-grabbing change to drop the 3.5mm hole lacked purpose.

"You mean I have to use a new adaptor to use my headphone with my £599 iPhone 7?! Outrageous!" 

As stated above - calm down. That adaptor comes in the box. Lose it, and it can be replaced for £6.90. Chill out. If it's an issue of cost, it's really not worth getting upset about in a marketplace that actively encourages users to buy a new handset every two years. 

If, however, it's an issue of not understanding where Apple is going with this, allow us to give you an explanation you can use down the pub:

Headphones need power to play your music, okay? Music stored on your iPhone is translated into a power signal by circuits inside the phone, which is sent down a wire to a headphone where that signal is turned back into music. By shifting from a 3.5mm jack to the Lightning connector, Apple has been able to free up space inside the phone for more stuff, and forcibly nudge headphone manufacturers to make better headphones for your iPhone - something they've been able to do ever since they introduced the Lightning connector. Headphone designers can shift that circuitry that used to live inside the iPhone into their headphones, improving that electronic signal making your music sound super duper, better than anything you heard through a 3.5mm connection.

Lightning connector headphones have the capacity to cost more than 3.5mm headphones, but they also have the capacity to sound a whole lot better. Sure, they also result in nonsense like this if you want to charge your phone while listening to music...

 

And again, yes, you're going to have to buy a Lightning-to-3.5mm adaptor should you ever find yourself wanting to use your iPhone 7 Lightning headphones with a non-Lightning product - another few quid that's not really that much in the grand scheme of gadget money.

But the point is this: Apple has dropped that 3.5mm hole to "move on and do something new". Because isn't that what we expect of tech groups like Apple? Isn't that what we hope to find when a new shiny handset is shown off at a hyped-up media event? This is progress - a chance for headphone designers to show us what audio experiences we've been missing with our 3.5mm models - but it's a hard evolution to sell. 

So, buy an affordable cable to adapt your old headphones. Buy some new headphones if you want to experience fruits of Apple's "courageous" move. Or just buy an Android handset. But either way - calm down. 

(Images: Getty)

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David Cornish

Shortlist.com’s esteemed Tech Editor. David has a keen interest in video games, Star Wars and stuff that runs on batteries.

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