The impending death of the 3.5mm jack

 3.5mm jack Lots of people are asking if I think the iPhone 7 will be the first iPhone not to feature the 3.5mm headphone jack.. Personally I don’t think this would make good business sense, sure Apple could (and probably will in the future) by selling a 3.5mm to lightning connector.. They may even bundle one in with the phone! 

However, it would make much more sense to enable audio output via the Lightning connector, and allow for an ecosystem of lightning headphones from the worlds leading manufacturers first. Then drop the headphone jack once everyone’s bought into the idea. This was also discussed on the Apple Insider podcast, which if you don’t currently subscribe to – you should! 

Of course the 3.5mm deserves to die, it’s been around since the early 19th century. It’s feature list is lacking, and it’s sound quality is good…… But it could be better! 

Opening up the Lightning connector to audio makes a whole load of sense, bringing with it even higher quality sound, which would work hand in hand with the worlds uptake on 4K media. 

Of course, the biggest bugbear is going to be the lack of the ability to charge the device while listening to music. However, as it stands lightning connected devices are not allowed to draw power from the device. This is set up in the Lightning adapter requirements that manufacturers have to meet to be allowed to use the connector. 

Sure it’s going to piss people off, but Apple are often found leading the masses to the new connectivity options, such as USB C and FireWire. At the end of the day, it’s the evolution of the quality of music driving the change, and not just their want for an even thinner handset. 

Only time will tell… But I’d be very surprised if the iPhone 7 is the first to sport no headphone jack!! 

Edit: Victor Marks has pointed out that such headphones are already in circulation, which you can see here

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Hands on: AfterShokz Sportz 2

Bone Conduction Sport Headphones
AfterShokz Sportz 2 – Bone Conduction Sport Headphones

AfterShokz Sportz 2 Review

AfterShokz Sportz 2 are a pretty impressive set of bone conducting sport headphones, which differ from normal in ear headphones as they actually sit in front of the ear, and deliver sound via your cheek bones.

These headphones have been designed with the open air sports fanatic in mind, leaving the ear canal unobstructed the user is not at risk of not hearing on coming traffic etc. The build quality is good, and the headphones claim to be sweat resistant which is important when using during exercise.

However, I do feel the sound quality suffers from not being a complete in ear solution. They are certainly not a patch on my Sennheiser PMX 685i Sports In-Ear Neckband Headphones.  As one of my colleagues Philip Gardham pointed out they do sound a little like holding a normal in-ear earbud to your cheek and turning the volume up. On more base intense tracks the headset actually vibrates on your cheek bone, this headset is actually better with a medium volume track. They do also seem to suffer from quite a bit of sound leak too, which is another reason not to have them too loud.

The headphones use a lithium ion battery to power their bone conduction technology, and boast a massive 12 hours of constant use between charges. Headset charging is via the included micro USB cable, and takes approximately 2 hours before fully charged.

The headphones also have an ‘inline’ volume/play/pause/power functionality, which you can see below, the black box with the orange power button.

AfterShokz Sportz 2

The box also contains a ‘tough’ storage case for keeping your headset and charge cable neat and tidy. However, the case is quite bulky in size – so would take up a considerable amount of space in your gym bag.

So to recap:

The good:

I am a big fan of up and coming technology, and think bone conduction is quite frankly amazing, although the sound quality wouldn’t satisfy the most savvy audiophile, I’m sure day to day users would be more then happy. They are also reasonably priced at £59.95.

The bad:

I am not a big fan of standing out from the crowd, and think that the look of these on your head will turn heads in the wrong way.. They look a little like either I’ve missed my ears trying to put on normal headphones, or I should be wearing a star trek outfit.

The sound quality leaves a lot to be desired, and they are not as comfy as you might think.

The bottom line:

Although I certainly wouldn’t rush out and buy a set (I won my set) I do like the concept, and hope they pave the way for many more advancements around bone conduction. Until then, I’ll stick with my Sennheiser’s

Rating:

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