It’s been been almost one year now since Apple took the “brave step” to remove the much beloved, and much mourned 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X.
Since then manufacturers have responded by releasing a variety of headphones and earbuds with built-in Lightning connectors that can plug directly into new Apple devices without the need of a cumbersome “dongle”.
Bluetooth is also a thing.. if you don’t mind degraded sound quality and having yet another lithium ion battery that needs recharging every couple of days.
iPad Pro Going Headphone Jack-less
Just when you thought it things couldn’t get any worse though, we have news that Apple is planning to delete the 3.5mm headphone jack from the upcoming iPad Pro.
Japanese manufacturer news blog Macotakara, pretty much the “Wikileaks of Apple tech”, unearthed manufacturer documents recently showing the deltion of the 3.5mm headphone jack from the upcoming, refreshed iPad Pro model.
Honestly, it was only a matter of time. Apple is all about integration into their ecosystem and it seems this ecosystem is bent on forcing users into a completely Bluetooth world.
Personally, we hate Bluetooth, not just because of the poorer sound quality but because lithium ion batteries are best kept to the minimum required number as charging, especially for frequent flyers, can be a huge pain in the rear.
There is a resistance to the wireless world however. Companies like Audeze, JBL, Philips, Sony, AKG and Libratone (all reviewed here, at Lightningcans.com!) have all made wired headphone models that can plug directly into Lightning ports.
Many of these new “smart headphones” sport some pretty cool cutting edge tech that has ironically only been made available because of the Lightning cables unique ability transmit data and power simultaneously.
The ability to simply swap out your cable to keep up with Apple’s headphone extinction efforts is a godsend, especially given the average cost of high quality headphones ranging from a couple hundred dollars up into the thousands.
A Completely Wireless New World?
Since the new iPad Pro has removed the headphone jack, it is our opinion that it is only a matter of time before it is also removed from Apple Mini desktop computers and even Macbook and Macbook Pro models.
Yes, the Macbook Pro just received a refresh and yes, it still has a headphone jack, but you can see the “minimalism at all cost” mantra already impacting the Apple laptop line with the removal of USBs and instead inserting just a USB-C ports.
What Ports do the 2018 Macbook Pros Come With?
Depending on how much you spend you can either get 2 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports and 1 headphone jack or 4 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports with 1 headphone jack.
This means in the most recent refresh, updating from a 2015 Macbook Pro for example means losing the (awesome) MagSafe 2 power port, two USB ports, an HDMI port, and an SDXC card slot.
Needless to say, the march towards complete port removal will continue with future Apple products. Why? A blind dedication to minimalist design, even at the expense of practicality and utilitarianism it would seem.
Future-Proof Your Audio Experience
As much as we would like to advise you to invest in a pair of Bluetooth headphones so you can finally just throw up your hands and say “I don’t even care anymore what they remove”, we just cannot do that.
If you love music, and we’re not even talking audiophile level love, then Bluetooth will inevitably let you down. Sure, the technology has improved in the last 5 years but it is still a LONG way away from what you get with a pair of quality cable headphones (+ DAC/Amplifier).
So, while Apple continues to chisel away at practicality we suggest you look at either upgrading your cable to a Lightning-terminated replacement or investing in a pair of dedicated Lightning headphones.
Manufacturers are taking advantage of the Lightning cables ability to transmit both data and power and are creating some pretty neat “smart headphones” with app-based equalizing, active noise cancelling (without additional battery packs) and other cool tech like 3D sound and motion/gesture control.
A pair of Lightning cans should keep you in a good position for the next 2-3 years, completely dongle-free and content with high quality audio. Hopefully in the next 5 years Bluetooth, or perhaps a technology to usurp it, will come to save the day, rescuing music lovers from the bland and depressing world of wireless audio.