Apple’s endless battle with standardized technology used by everyone else in the world has entered a new phase: The company no longer sells any phones with a 3.5 mm headphone jack, and the new iPhones will come without headphone dongles.
Shortly after announcing the iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and iPhone XS Max, Apple removed the iPhone SE and the iPhone 6S from its online store—the last two phones it sold that had headphone jacks.
Apple says that the headphone jack wastes internal space inside the iPhone, and it’s true that the company has crammed every millimeter of the phone with electronics. Apple’s quest for thinness means it would rather get rid of one of the most-used features of a phone than make the phone itself bigger (which might also allow a larger, removable battery.)
We’re now roughly two years into Apple’s experiment to end headphone jacks forever, and while it might be working out just fine for Apple, it still doesn’t feel as if it’s going very well for the rest of us.
Apple has sold many millions of AirPods, but AirPods and other wireless bluetooth headphones aren’t terribly practical for people who tend to lose things often, and must be charged regularly. Apple’s corded Lightning headphones are unreliable—in two years since I’ve gotten the iPhone 7, I’ve been through five pairs.
More importantly, the world hasn’t moved on from standard 3.5” headphones. Most of the highest quality headphones are wired and use standard 3.5” connectors. The average bodega or convenience store doesn’t sell Lightning headphones. The Hudson Group, which operates roughly 1,000 stores (many of them in airports), doesn’t stock Lightning headphones, but told me it sells three different third-party charging adapters that will allow you to use 3.5” headphones (each of which cost at least $35.)
Often, these are minor inconveniences. But they’re avoidable ones that no one asked for that Apple has forced on its customers. As we get further into the iPhone’s life cycle, the devices are getting more-and-more proprietary, and less-and-less compatible with the things we already own, even if you’re already all-in on the Apple ecosystem. These are little things, but they matter. Hope you hoarded the iPhone 6S!