Apple knows a device can only be as thin as its smallest port. The iPhone’s 3.5 millimeter headphone jack remains the largest opening on the unit’s body — but a necessary one. Apple brought the analog audio port over from its iPod line and popularized the use of standard headphones in cell phones. With the upcoming iPhone 7, they may be undoing it all.
The iPhone 7 release date is, at the moment, unknown as are the details surrounding what Apple’s new flagship phone may contain. But a series of recent reports that began in November 2015 suggest that Apple could be moving to eliminate the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7 entirely, instead relying on the existing Lightning charging port to also carry audio (the Lightning standard allows for this today on current-gen iPhones), as well as wireless headphones.
An iPhone sans-headphone port could mean the device will be as thick as the Lightning port on the bottom necessitates, reports Fast Company. And removing the (more than) 100-year-old audio jack from the device could start to end its inclusion in other devices as well.
A new physical design for the iPhone 7 is almost mandated—judging by Cupertino’s “Tick tock” launch schedule for the past nine years (that is, alternating every other year: on “tock” years the phone body design changes significantly, while on “tick” years the body remains mostly the same and the internals and software get more upgrades. 2016 should be a “tock” year, according to the pattern.)
And some new features would only better convince users to trade in their phones for Apple’s latest device. But—like the current Macbook, which ditched all external ports except for 3.5mm and a single USB-C port for charging and data transfer—a purge of ports may be necessary to achieve a simpler, more attractive design.