On Charging Your iPhone and Listening to Music Simultaneously

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

The Verge is really not happy about this whole headphone jack removal from the latest iPhones. I know they have smart people working there, and I honestly think they do a lot of good work, but their near-daily pieces on how this decision by Apple is an affront to simple human decency is getting a little tired.

Now before you say "Matt, you're clearly an Apple apologist, so shut up," I have to remind you that I'm more than happy to criticize Apple (and Apple fanboys) when it's deserved. From the past 2 months alone:

I even wrote a piece right before the Apple event earlier this month called Shipping Lightning Headphones with the iPhone Would Confirm Apple Skeptics’ Worst Assumptions and that assessment is turning out to be on point. In that piece I argued that default matter and what Apple ships in the box is what people will treat as the expected way to listen to their media. Yes, there are cheap Bluetooth headphones on the market, but if Apple ships Lightning headphones, the that's what people are going to use.

This is the fact that The Verge is addressing when they say a $40 dongle is too much to spend to be able to charge your phone and use headphones at the same time. I think the answer Apple would give is that they expect people to use wireless headphones and charge, so there's no issue. They're right, and there are plenty of sub-$40 Bluetooth headphones you can buy, but the fact that they didn't give us wireless headphones weakens this message a lot. This should have been avoided.

Sure, some consumers will hold onto their existing iPhones, or upgrade to the iPhone 6 or 6S, but in two years those phones won’t be on sale. And if you want to stay in the iOS ecosystem with an up-to-date phone, there will be no device with a headphone jack, forcing you to spend money to retain features that have become staples in your day-to-day life.

Yes, the iPhone 7 will eventually be the low-end iPhone2 and there will be no iPhones on the market with a headphone jack, but that's 2 years down the road, and I think these issues will mostly sort themselves out by then. We all know that no one can shift the smartphone market like Apple, so we're going to see a lot of product hit the market to address the concerns people have today in shifting to this headphone-less future.

Today's $40 Apple adapter will surely have $10-20 generic options soon. I would bet even current iPhone 7 owners will have a cheaper option by the end of the 2016 if they want to charge and listen via Lightning. If you want to go with wireless headphones, an Amazon search already turns up over 5,000 options for under $25 alone. I use these, and they're not the best sounding headphones I've ever used, but they get the job done. The quality of these cheap headphones is going to rise as well, as the iPhone 7 has spurred demand for this product category.

With any luck, Apple will even be able to bundle in an affordable pair of AirPods in a year or two to radically reduce these concerns.

  1. To be clear, Apple fanboys got lucky with the Note 7 exploding. If it were not for that issue, the Note 7 is a really good phone. 
  2. It always feels weird to say that for the new model.