So it is new iPhone time, welcome iPhone 7 and iPhone 7+
True to form the latest incarnation of the iPhone is pretty much an incremental upgrade from the previous – an industry trend now as even Samsung has no groundbreaking features that disrupt the existing very competitive and tired space.
So what’s new? Water resistant is a great new feature as are new jumps in memory and processing BUT that’s not why we are here today folks. The latest and most controversial feature is the omission of the trusty headphone socket. Apple’s stance on this is that it is a brave move to go forward and innovate in new ways and adopt new technologies and form factors. The problem is though, as usual they refuse to adopt industry standards or improve on their existing solutions.
The removal of the headphone socket means that to listen to music now you will receive a set of Earpods with the very recognisable, ubiquitous Lightning plug. Should you have some nicer or favourite headphones using the now redundant 3.5mm jack Apple thoughtfully thought to include an adapter that converts from Lightning to the archaic jack plug – as shown on the left.
The issue becomes apparent immediately, for most, as there seems to be a design flaw or missed thought or use case……how do you listen to music while you are charging your new iPhone? In short you cannot! But wait! There is a solution! Coming soon Belkin, in partnership with Apple, will be releasing yes, you guessed it – an adapter for that!!! Come October you will be able to spend yet another $40 on the Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar so that you can, as pictured above, both charge your phone and listen to music!
There are some other more immediate and/or other expensive options for you to get around this oversight on Apple’s part:
Apple Lightning Dock – this spendy piece of kit, not exactly a portable solution, is available now for $49 and allows you to utilize both a Lightning port for charging AND a trusty 3.5mm jack for your audio listening pleasure.
Next solution comes in the form of the newly announced Apple AirPods – release date also October. At $159 these are a premium solution for sure! Note that the Airpods are widely incompatible with non-Apple Bluetooth phones and devices. They are geared as per most Apple products to solely work on their devices. These new headphones utilize Apple’s new custom W1 chip which facilitates pairing seemlessly with your existing Apple devices.
A wireless solution be it Apple’s Airpods or any other Bluetooth device frees up the Lightning port for charging duties.
So why say ‘What the f$$$ Apple?’ as the headline screams?
This is why:
Despite the millions of dollars invested in new phone technology, design work, manufacturing and testing you still cannot make a charging connector that is either standard or long lasting.
The design of the connector seems to be the failure point itself. The required or hacked ‘authentication chip’ that keeps Apple’s accessory and ‘Certified by Apple‘ program alive and well seems to be part of a major stress point in the design.
This is not a small problem, there is a WHOLE INDUSTRY around this epic design flaw:
So the question has to be asked….why oh why Apple would you not take the time and resources to improve what seems to be a fundamental design flaw in your products? As a company who prides itself on sustainability and green credentials, the poor design of cables and now headphone accessories will I guess have a twofold effect:
- Renewed interest and life to the Certified by Apple program as third parties create new headphones for the iPhone 7 devices
- Constant rebuying of new leads and now headphones as the design flaw evident in charge cables is now inherited in the Lightning headphone technology. Does the authentication chip exist in headphones too?
Increased Electronic Waste
- Apple and third party companies will be warranty replacing these cables and headphones constantly
- Connectivity of adapter to adapter, daisychaining cables will lead to more stress on the connectors and the phones themselves causing more damage to devices and accessories
- The premium cost for original ‘certified’ cables will result in the continued purchase of imported, inferior (sometimes even dangerous) cables
There is a need for a new design, a new solution, surely someone with the design chops of Apple with all of its creative talent, huge R&D budget and resources could come up with a better, more robust and cost effective solution?
Maybe new leads with right angled connectors BUT with a passthrough port would be a better design. Headphones plug in first and the regular charging cable can slot into the bottom of the headphone connector?