In 2016, Apple introduced iPhone 7 which generated controversy thanks to their decision to remove the headphone jack. It came as a shock to many, who felt the feature was essential. So why did Apple do it? Well, the reason actually had more to do with iPhone X than the iPhone 7.
Android competitors had been releasing devices with larger screens that often reached the top, left and right edges. But they were having trouble shrinking the chin, since that’s where display panels typically house their controller. If Apple was going to compete with their own edge-to-edge display, they’d have to figure out a way to shrink the bottom bezel.
Eventually, their engineers figured out a solution. By utilizing an OLED panel’s flexible properties, they could fold its controller behind the display. Freeing up space at the bottom for a thin bezel. The only downside was the headphone jack needed to be removed to make room for the display’s controller.
This technology would eventually be used in the iPhone X, but the product’s release was still a couple years away. In the meantime, Apple would release iPhone 7. Since they knew the headphone jack would have to be removed the following year, they considered removing it early on the 7. The benefit for users would be improved water resistance. Since the headphone jack was the easiest way for liquid to enter.
But there was also a hidden benefit for Apple. They’d be introducing wireless headphones called AirPods alongside iPhone 7. If the phone had no headphone jack, demand for wireless headphones would increase. And in 2016 there was virtually no true wireless earbuds on the market, which created a huge opportunity for Apple. Plus, the iPhone X would already be a controversial release.
Since it would remove the home button, introduce the notch, and raise the iPhone’s price from 650 to 1,000 dollars. So shifting the headphone jack removal to the iPhone 7, would take some heat off the X. After those considerations, Apple decided to remove the headphone jack on iPhone 7. And as expected, they received widespread criticism from customers and competitors. Although companies like Google and Samsung would eventually follow suit. With Google admitting, quote, “The primary reason for removing the headphone jack is establishing a mechanical design path for the future. We want the display to go closer and closer to the edge.”
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