It's true: Apple will drop headphone jack to make the iPhone 7 slimmer, says source

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Apple Might Drop the iPhone Headphone Jack

Apple's next big phone -- presumably called the iPhone 7 -- will come without a 3.5mm headphone jack, will be noticeably thinner, will very likely support wireless charging and be waterproof, a source with knowledge of the company's plans tells Fast Company.

As has been rumored, our source confirms that the new phone will rely on its Lightning cable port for sound output to wired headphones. That port has been used for power and data transfer in recent iPhones. Users can also use wireless headphones.

Apple is working with its longtime audio chip partner Cirrus Logic to adapt the audio chipset in the iPhone to work with the Lightning port, according to our source.

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It's true: Apple will drop headphone jack to make the iPhone 7 slimmer, says source
Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds up an Apple iPhone at the MacWorld Conference in San Francisco, Jan. 9, 2007. Apple Inc., on a tear with its popular iPod players and Macintosh computers, is expected to report strong quarterly results Wednesday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Jeff Gamet, from the Internet magazine The Mac Observer, looks at the new Apple iPhone at MacWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2007. Apple Inc. is a tight ship when it comes to corporate secrets, regularly suing journalists and employees who leak data about upcoming products. Although few people outside of Apple's headquarters knew product specifications for the iPhone before its announcement, the device was widely anticipated. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
An advertisement for the upcoming iPhone is displayed in the Apple store in SoHo, Friday, June 22, 2007 in New York. The long anticipated gadget hits the market on June 29th. (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh)
A television journalist holds the Apple iPhone, the only one given to a journalist in Los Angeles before it went on sale, as he interviews people waiting to buy the iPhone outside the Apple store at The Grove in Los Angeles, Friday, June 29, 2007. After six months of hype, thousands of people Friday will get their hands on the iPhone, the new cell phone that Apple Inc. is banking on to become its third core business next to its moneymaking iPod players and Macintosh computers. Customers were camped out at Apple and AT&T stores across the nation. The gadget, which combines the functions of a cell phone, iPod media player and wireless Web browser, will go on sale in the United States at 6 p.m. in each time zone. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
A customer holds a demonstration Apple iPhone during the release of the Apple product and the opening of a new Apple Store at Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa, Okla., on Friday, June 29, 2007. More than 500 people waited in line. (AP Photo/David Crenshaw)
Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs announces the new Apple iPhone 3G during the keynote speech at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Monday, June 9, 2008. Jobs announced innovations to the Mac OS X Leopard operating system and an enhanced iPhone. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
An older Apple iPhone is shown next to an advertisement for the new iPhone 3G at an AT&T store in Palo Alto, Calif., Tuesday, July 8, 2008. To sustain the momentum of the original iPhone's success and keep fickle consumers and Wall Street happy, Apple Inc. needs a dramatic second act with the next generation of iPhones, which roll out Friday with faster Internet access and lower retail prices. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
A shop worker holds the new Apple iPhone 3GS in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, June 19, 2009. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Apple CEO Steve Jobs smiles as he uses the new iPhone 4 at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Monday, June 7, 2010, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Apple iPhone at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Monday, June 7, 2010 in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2011 file photo, Chris Cioban, manager of the Verizon store in Beachwood, Ohio, holds up an Apple iPhone 4G. Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest cellphone company, announced Tuesday, June 12, 2012, that is dropping nearly all of its phone plans in favor of pricing schemes that encourage consumers to connect their non-phone devices, like tablets and PCs, to Verizon's network. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)
Apple CEO Tim Cook during an introduction of the new iPhone 5 in San Francisco, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
People queue outside the Apple Store as the iPhone 5 mobile phones went on sale in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Friday Sept. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
In this photo taken Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, new plastic iPhones 5C are displayed during a media event held in Beijing, China. Last year, eager buyers in Beijing waited overnight in freezing weather to buy the iPhone 4S. Pressure to get it — and the profit to be made by reselling scarce phones — prompted some to pelt the store with eggs when Apple, worried about the size of the crowd, postponed opening. Just 18 months later, many Chinese gadget lovers responded with a shrug this week when Apple Inc. unveiled two new versions of the iPhone 5. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A customer examines a new iPhone 5s at the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, Neb., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the day the new iPhone 5c and 5s models go on sale. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses the new Apple Watch and iPhone 6 on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Two new iPhone 6 are photographed at the Apple store in the city centre of Munich, Germany, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. A large crowd had gathered in front of the Apple store ahead of the offical launch of Apple's new iPhone. (AP Photo, dpa,Peter Kneffel)
FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2014 file photo, a customer looks at the screen size on the new iPhone 6 Plus while waiting in line to upgrade his iPhone at a Verizon Wireless store in Flowood, Miss. A newly-discovered glitch in Apple's software can cause iPhones to mysteriously shut down when they receive a certain text message. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California on September 9, 2015. Apple unveiled its iPad Pro, saying the large-screen tablet has the power and capabilities to replace a laptop computer. AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
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Our source adds that the audio system will also leverage a new noise-canceling technology from Wolfson Microelectronics—a U.K.-based audio tech company Cirrus acquired in 2014. The software will be baked into the phone and also into the headphones that will plug into it, and will help remove background noise in music playback and in phone calls, our source says.

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Numerous third-party headphone makers will use the technology in their own Lightning-compatible headphones, our source says, and they'll have to buy a license to use the audio processing technology.

Some media reports have suggested that Apple will include a set of Lightning-connected EarPod earphones in the box with the iPhone 7. It's more likely, our source says, that Apple will sell a more expensive pair of noise-canceling, Lightning-connected, earphones or headphones separately -- possibly under its Beats brand. Still other media reports say that Apple may include with the iPhone 7 an adapter that will allow users to plug regular 3.5mm analog headphones into the new phone.

The removal of the 3.5mm jack would be consistent with Apple's fixation on making devices simpler and smaller. Last year Apple unveiled a new 12-inch MacBook computer that has but a single USB-C port to handle power, data transfer, and video output. That device, however, does have a 3.5mm headphone jack.

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While the Lightning audio port is novel, other features in the next iPhone have long shown up in Android phones.

Samsung's flagship phones support wireless charging, for example, and our source says Apple will likely (finally) put the technology into a phone this year. Apple has considered including wireless charging in at least two previous iPhones.

The iPhone 7 wouldn't be the first Apple product to do wireless charging. The Apple Watch uses wireless inductive charging.

VentureBeatreports that the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S7 phone will be waterproof; and likewise our source believes the iPhone 7, too, will be completely waterproof. Waterproofing is accomplished in mobile phones by applying a special chemical coating to the devices' components.

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Our source points out that while Apple is currently working on wireless charging and waterproofing technology, the company has in the past pulled features from new phones very late in the development process. And it'll be months before the iPhone 7 goes into production.

Apple is under pressure to build new and impressive functionality into the next phone to tempt large numbers of people to upgrade from older iPhones.

Apple sold impressive numbers of its last phone, the iPhone 6s, a device that didn't offer many meaningful new features and functions. But some analysts believe new phones are becoming a tougher sell, as consumers are expected to buy far fewer new smartphones in 2016.

In short, the next iPhone will have to be a capable and sexy device in order to yield the blockbuster sales numbers of the iPhone 6 and 6S.

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