The iPhone 7 Just Broke Up With Your Headphones (sorta)

look ma, no 3.5mm headphone jack

While this isn't really AudioStream news, and Tyll over on InnerFidlity has this more than covered, I thought I'd add a word or two on Apple's headphone-jackless new iPhone; dongle, dongles.

Owners of any of the highly recommended AudioQuest DragonFlys (see review) were universally heard saying, "So what."

Of course headphone owners can simply use the included Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter to continue getting the relatively crappy sound that comes out of an iPhone. Belkin, among others, is coming out with a two-port lightning dongle so that you can listen to your wired headphones and charge your iPhone 7 simultaneously. Think dongles.

garrettnecessary's picture

The LG V20 looks like it will be fantastic for audiophiles -- and as a phone. It will retain the jack. I'm switching as soon as it's available.

ednaz's picture

I'd never even heard the word dongle until I got swept into the Apple ecosystem. In my day job, I've got a company issued iPhone, iPad Pro, and Macbook Pro. (We're trying to use the iPad Pro as much as possible to work on making the Macbook Pro go away... so far it's not working so well.) In my backpack I've got the Bag-O-Dongles - dongles for ethernet, digital monitors and projectors, VGA monitors and projectors, camera kits (which aren't camera kits at all, just card reader dongles), and then a few USB dongles that replicate the Thunderbolt dongles in case I need to have two dongle-y functions at once, like ethernet plus projecting. And with the iPad Pro, the pencil - which is the coolest, no, scratch that, most amazingly functional new technology, requires a dongle for charging, and dongle-ish things to keep you from losing the cap, which fully a fifth of the 400 people in the iPad Pro pilot have done. Then there's the chargers. If you travel with an iPhone and iPad Pro, better carry two chargers with two lightning cables, because the iPad Pro charges rrreeeaaallllyyyy ssssloooooooowwwwly. Ah, and then the charger for my Macbook.

I haven't presented at a conference in the last three years when there wasn't an urgent request asking for some particular dongle or another that a presenter needed because they lost theirs. Which about a third of the time then results in me losing mine.

The bag-o-dongles comes in, retail, at over $300 when you total it all up. There are days when I think that the iPad, iPhone, and Macbook are the razors... the dongles are the razor blades.

If you make the base unit smaller but that results in having to carry a bag of miscellaneous adapters... is that progress? That's the question I'm asking all the time when I take out the bag-o-dongles and rummage around for the one I need at that moment.

I think it's a big bet on blu-tooth sound eventually catching up with wired headphone and CIEM sound quality. As an owner of a few sets of awesome CIEMs, I'm going to be adding yet another dongle to my bag when my employer forces me to the new iPhone, until the quality IS equal. If they had done this at the point in time when people with ears that hear well enough to value high quality CIEMs couldn't tell the difference between those and blu-tooth IEMs - I'd be 100% on board with massive enthusiasm.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...was the best dongle rant I've ever read!

(and thanks for the belly laugh)

Reed's picture

One reason they said they were getting rid of the headphone's part of the effort to make the iPhone more water resistant. I haven't used a wired jack in years on my iPhone. Maybe they will focus on further refining Bluetooth, which is already much better these days.

Miska's picture

I have both Sony Xperia Z-series tablet and phone. Both have 3.5mm headset jack and both are water resistant. I've tested both by swimming with those and taking the device underwater. The jacks are waterproof, without any caps necessary. So not really a reason.

And maybe same goes for the Samsung Xcover phones too...

burnspbesq's picture

And being an idiot, of course when I bought my Audez'e SiNE headphones last spring I bought them with just the 3.5 mm cable. I was later told by a person at the Audez'e table at T.H.E. that their agreement with Apple didn't allow them to sell the Cipher cable as a standalone, aftermarket accessory.

Dear Tim Cook, that needs to change, and yesterday wouldn't be soon enough.

CarterB's picture

The dongle has a DAC of some nature and is a headphone amp of some nature right? That seems like quality probably decreased to offvoard it to the dongle

heyjp's picture

As far as I know, the Apple Lightening port can output digital audio (as used by a Dragonfly) and analog stereo using the same onboard iPhone DAC that used to support the mini-jack. The DragonFly taps the digital output and the Apple Fongle taps the analog out. No DAC nor amp in the 49 dongle.

Jim in Boulder

heyjp's picture

Sorry. I can't type. My last sentence was "no DAC nor amp in the Apple $9 dongle."

Jim in Boulder

CarterB's picture

Tear down showing a chip (also one in the included air pods).

heyjp's picture


I stand corrected!! I'm surprised that there is a DAC in the Dongle. I always thought apple had an analog out on the lightening. Thanks for your investigative work!!!

Jim in Boulder

CarterB's picture

Jim, my final comment on his is InnerFidelity has speculation on this topic? The results? who knows?

bobflood's picture

I see you changed your profile picture. Somehow, I just didn't think you were still the long hair of years ago. When I was in real estate years ago the female agents would get accused of using their "Prom" pictures for a bit too long and the guys would use their "jock" pictures too long as well. None of us wants to get older, but ...

Life does catch up to us all and I now know what you look like today.

I hope all is well with you and thanks for running a civil site.



Michael Lavorgna's picture
Yes, that is a current image from Munich. I'm not a fan of getting my picture taken so it has taken a long time for this update to happen. In the mean time, lots of things have changed ;-)


bobflood's picture

as well. Nearly every time some old guy manages to get into the shot instead of me.

Charles Hansen's picture

Ha! Thanks for the belly-laugh, Bob! Happy Sunday.

ednaz's picture

I knew Steve Jobs - we were on a couple of advisory committees to educational institutions where we shared history - and I endured many insanely deep lectures on simplicity and elegance. Many more than I was up for, or needed, but every one of them was full of passion and intensity I've not encountered in hardly any inventor/creators. What's important to understand is that his sense of those two things (and many other things that Apple was famous for) came from his study of calligraphy with Padre Palladino. It's not complexity if there's beauty; there's no beauty in anything that's more than what's needed. No one can ever say for certain what someone who's departed would think but the intensity with which he ranted about adapters and add ons and needless complexity (in situations I was in, but his legend is built on these intense beliefs) makes me think he'd be haunting some Apple product managers' houses right now.

And in my earlier rant, I left out the HDMI dongles for iDevices, as I was reminded today at a customer offsite where the only connection to the projector was HDMI. Really, it's not all Apple's fault that there are three or more current interfaces to video devices. But the whole concept of needing a bag of dongles to allow your elegant Apple devices to deal with the real world - I can very clearly imagine what Steve would have to say.

lalita827's picture

good that all the expensive software falls flat to perform. Google Duo PC you via the Duo video recording contacting program, great.

SonicFlare_'s picture

It's really a shame... Apple has such a great website with incredible press release related product images...

Can you perhaps consider using an actual iPhone 7 image when discussing iPhone 7?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Why, I certainly could. Did someone step on your dog?


mtymous1's picture

Happy Hopping wrote: It's really a shame... Apple has such a great website with incredible press release related product images...

Can you perhaps consider using an actual iPhone 7 image when discussing iPhone 7?

You have more heartache about the photo used, rather than the actual subtraction of the headphone jack?!?

SonicFlare_'s picture

Ha! No, but close to it. Just do it man, just do it. LOL

SonicFlare_'s picture

LOL! So I give you the link where to get Apple images and you still put up a pic of something other than an iPhone. hahahaha now that's funny.

Headphones's picture

You can always count on Beats Headphones ...