No headphone jack
Both new iPhones also utilize stereo speakers — both at the top and bottom of the devices — and Apple says they feature “increased dynamic range.” However, those speakers are exactly where the headphone jack used to be.
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus no longer feature a 3.5mm headphone jack. That means you’ll have to rely on a Lightning converter for your current headphones, or upgrade to a pair of Bluetooth earbuds. To make up for the missing headphone jack, Apple is including a pair of Lightning-connected (wired) EarPods in the box and a Lightning-converter for your 3.5mm headphone plug. The big downside: you cannot charge your phone and listen to music at the same time.
So just how bad is life without a headphone jack? The answer is, it depends. If you, like many iPhone users I know, only use the earbuds Apple always includes in the box with your iPhone, then you probably won’t care. Apple gives you a pair of earbuds just like last year’s, but they connect to your phone with lightning instead of a 3.5mm headphone jack. The only time you will care is when you want to charge your phone and listen to music simultaneously because now you can’t do that without a gross-looking dongle. If you already use wireless headphones, you won’t even notice the headphone jack is gone.
However, if you have a beloved pair of wired headphones, prepare to be seriously pissed off and thoroughly put off by the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Sure, you can use the included 3.5mm to lightning headphone adapter, but dongles aren’t exactly preferable. It’s small, so you could easily lose it, and the wire connection between the 3.5mm port and the lightning connector feels flimsy. Much like the included iPhone charging cords, which always break, we suspect this adapter may not have the longest life. We shall see.
It certainly is nice that Apple included the adapter, it’s just a shame that it’s so flimsy.
The lack of a headphone jack also prompted Apple to improve wireless audio — the result is the W1 wireless chip. It’s implemented in another new Apple product, the AirPods, which are completely wireless and get 5 hours of battery life. They aren’t included in the box, and you can read more about the $160 wireless earbuds here. You can also use any normal wireless headphones with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. You can check out our favorites here.
Although there aren’t many lightning connected headphones out yet, we expect many more will come in the following months. We’ve already reviewed a pair from Audeze, which sound great.