You may notice that something familiar is missing from the next iPhone: a standard headphone jack.
With the iPhone 7 due next year, Apple plans to remove the port, according to a report out of Japan. Users will connect headphones to the iPhone's Lightning data port. The new phone will come with a pair of headphones that can plug directly into the port, but to plug in regular headphones, users will need a separate adapter.
The headphone jack is thicker than the Lightning port, and the actual connector is almost twice as long. By removing the headphone jack, Apple could theoretically make its devices thinner and allocate more space to a display, batteries or other electronics. The move would also allow music and sound to be transmitted digitally from the device to the headphones, potentially improving fidelity.
The company made a similar move four years ago, when it replaced the 30-pin data port it had used with iPods and the first iPhones with the smaller, thinner Lightning connector. And this year, Apple released the new MacBook, which replaces standard USB ports with a thinner, smaller USB-C port that doubles as the computer's power connector.
A move to use the Lightning port for headphones could cause complications similar to those faced by MacBook owners. Eliminating the headphone jack would make the new phone incompatible with nearly all wired headsets on the market. If owners wanted to use their old headset, they'd need to purchase a separate dongle.
Meanwhile, by combining two or more functions — power and sound — into one port, the new design would make it difficult for users to connect the phone to two devices at the same time. iPhone users probably wouldn't be able to charge their phones and use wired headphones at the same time, unless they bought a separate adapter.