Why I Upgraded to the iPhone 7, Even Without the Headphone Jack

I considered skipping this iPhone due to the disappearance of the headphone jack, for about one second, then I moved back into reality and took the plunge. Why?

The iPhone 7 is much more than just a missing headphone jack, even for those of us in the connected, online blind community.

Image stabilization on the camera, now in both iPhone models, means it should be easier to receive remote sighted assistance through apps like BeSpecular and read printed material using the KNFB Reader. Furthermore, the dual camera lenses and large screen of the iPhone 7 Plus should benefit people with some usable sight.

The increased battery life, memory, processor and storage found in the iPhone 7 represent a significant performance boost for all users.

Another reason why I decided to upgrade is that my previous phone was an iPhone 6, so the improvements I experience in features and performance are huge.

Apple supplied a simple, stop gap solution to make the upgrade a little less painful for those of us who miss the headphone jack. A lightning-to-3.5mm adapter cable is provided, free of charge, in the box with every iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. After ten days with the iPhone 7, I have not yet used this dongle.

I think we will find, over time, that the loss of the headphone jack will go down in history as nothing more than a tempory annoyance.

As for now, I have taken a number of steps to cope.

My biggest objection to the loss of the headphone jack is the inability to simultaneously charge the iPhone while listening. I believe this issue does impact those of us who rely on VoiceOver much more than it does most sighted users, and I wish Apple would have done a better job of taking our accessibility needs into consideration.

I purchased an Apple iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case to significantly increase the iPhone's overall battery life between charges.

I also sprung for an iPhone Lightning Dock, which allows simultaneous connection of a lightning cable for charging and synchronization and a 3.5mm audio connection for listening with wired headphones.

The last accessory I bought was the LG HBS-770: LG TONE PRO Bluetooth headset to enable wireless listening around the house while charging the iPhone. This headset, along with many other similar Bluetooth solutions, has its significant advantages and disadvantages. I recently published a review of this product right here on AppleVis.

While my iPhone 7 wears the battery case 100 percent of the time, I listen to my iPhone through my Bluetooth headset about 70 percent of the time and I occasionally use the included Lightning Earpods, I rarely use the Lightning Dock.

Although the latency of most Bluetooth headsets makes using iOS devices a bit of a challenge for those of us who rely on VoiceOver now, I am hopeful that Apple's soon-to-be-released AirPods will represent a significant improvement.

One significant disadvantage of the iPhone 7 upgrade for me has been the expense necessary in order to achieve something important I had with my iPhone 6: the ability to charge the iPhone battery while listening to VoiceOver. So far, I have spent $220 in accessories from Apple and other companies. Will I spend another $159 for Apple's AirPods? Only time will tell. Someone recently said the iPhone 7 will be a boon to accessory makers, and, after my experience, I believe it.

If you have an iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus, my recommendation would be to wait for next year's model. If, however, you have an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or something older, and you are up for the additional expense of accessories needed to charge and listen simultaneously, then my advice is to fearlessly go for it!

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Submitted by Brian Giles on Monday, September 26, 2016

Good blog post. I also don't like the fact that you now have to buy a bunch of accessories to do what used to cost you nothing when you bought a new iPhone. I had my eye on the dock for a while, but I tried it at the Apple store and found out that it doesn't work with the case I have on my SE. IMO BT lag is a deal breaker for us VO users, although I haven't knowingly tried anything using bluetooth 4.0. I don't have any interest in the air pods since they seem to be very dependent on Siri. Having to ask Siri to turn up the volume? No thanks. As for the W 1 chip Apple is including potentially reducing the lag, go to an Apple store and play with the new Beats since they also have the chip. I'm gonna do that the next time I can get down there.
The removing the headphone jack could turn out like the third gen iPod Shuffle. Remember that? You had to have the then new headphones with remote to control it, which didn't bother me, but it did a lot of people. Third parties released adapters that allowed you to plug in standard headphones. It wasn't a surprise that the next year, the second gen form factor was back.

It may not be a huge deal to not have a headphone jack. But with the iPhone 7, you're paying a premium to have the future now.

Submitted by Mitchell on Monday, September 26, 2016

I never did both at the same time. When I had done it, it had rad to some broken charging cables. Now, i have a Bohm b86 headset and I love it. I think I would love the 7.

Submitted by Pangeran Satry… on Monday, September 26, 2016

Hello Darrell. Thanks for your good blog post. My question is about smart battery case. Do you always attach your iPhone 7 in to the smart battery case? Won't it make your iPhone battery life cycle decrees? Or may be your iPhone can last till the end of day with the smart battery case? Thanks.

Submitted by Toonhead on Monday, September 26, 2016

The subject line says it all. It's weird to not have a headphone jack, but since I purchased Bluetooth headphones a while back I don't find that i'm using them as much as I thought I would. So the loss of the headphone jack is weird, but only because I've never seen a phone that doesn't have one. I'm sure we will all make this jump in time, and one day the loss of the headphone jack will be a distant memory. Yes it worked great for years and still does on a lot of devices. I've got a couple mp3 players I still use with the legacy headphones and they work great. Time will tell. If apple doesn't receive any real complaints about the headphone jack being gone, they'll continue in this direction. My only question is how it's been effecting users with hearing aids?

Submitted by Siobhan on Monday, September 26, 2016

I have four, yes four, pairs of Earpods. I don't use any of them, two are still all nicely wrapped in their plastic pachage case. If I get next year's phone, as I just got the six S plus, I will again shove the headphones in a drawer, or ok fine, keep one set in my purse for the ATM. The airpods I'll check into. I don't like the two hundred dollar price, ok one fifty, but if they feel nice in the ear, and do what I need, so I don't have to hold the phone up to my head like a dork, I'll take it.

Submitted by Takada on Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I really hate the fact that if I buy a new iPhone, I have to use the same jack for both charging and headphone. Also, using a headphone that has a lightning jack instead of a 3.5mm jack seems really crazy with me. I don't even see the advantages of this 'revolution'.

Submitted by JeffB on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I'm not looking forward to the day I have to get a iPhone with no headphone jack. When that sad horible terrible no good very bad future day comes I will likely break down and buy the 2 in 1 lightning adapter splitter link below. That will then mean my phone will have its own personal kite tail and I'll be walking my phone down the street but that's the price I'll have to pay because a corperation tells everyone what they want.


Submitted by Joe on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Club AppleVis Member

Jeff do you want some cheese with that whine? After all you're the consumer who is buying the product so no one's making you buy it. You could easily go over to android which still has the headphone jack. For now. I never charge my phone and listen at the same time so this is not an issue to me either. The only time I would see myself doing that is maybe a road trip which I'm going on this weekend so we will see how that goes. All I'm going to say is if you're not happy with the iPhone changes you should look elsewhere instead of crying on a message board. The headphone jack is gone it will not come back magically for the 7S or eight or whatever going to call the next phone.

Submitted by Kristen on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I currently have the iPhone 6, myself, and am planning to grab the iPhone 7 once my contract is up.

Honestly, I've never felt the need to charge my phone and listen via headphones at the same time. Not sure why.

My battery usually lasts all day and I only charge it overnight. The only time I nearly ran out my battery was during intense play of a game and I suppose I could see wanting to continue playing (with headphones) while charging, though the shortness of the charge cable would make it awkward anyhow.

The very few niche cases where I may need to charge and headphone at the same time, I don't think I'd be too put out using a bluetooth set - it'd already be awkward using the phone with the charge cord attached anyhow.

So long story short - I really don't mind the lack of the headphone jack and will be getting one. But to each their own!

Submitted by Kristen on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Oh - as an addendum. The main draw for me is the 32GB storage space, as the 16GB storage on the iPhone 6 is starting to get extra restrictive.

Submitted by Siobhan on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Who hasn't spilled something on their IOS device? I have, you have, even if it was that shot of rum you meant to slug down before hitting play on your music. Apple got rid of the headphone jack, andhome button, as both were crucial for debris to get inside. Again, who hasn't thumbed their home button while shoving in the greasy slice ofpizza? I'm careful, not perfect. It seems as though apple may try to go for a wireless charging capability and if they don't? Who among us has one of those smart battery caes,apple figures you'll charge yourphone somehow, so really why is this junk about listening and charging at the same time a big deal? Joe, loved your post btw. ;)

Submitted by JeffB on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I haven't spilled a thing on my iPhone mainly because I just got mine this year and I'm careful with it even more so now. I'd rather live for the now than paying extra to live for the supposed future. If all companies agreed and got rid of the headphone jack that would be another story but right now I see it as a money scheme. As I said a day will come when I will probably have to get an iPhone with no headphone jack but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it either. For now I am very happy with my 6S. For the cheese comment ha, ha, like I never heard that one before...

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I have a 6S, but went ahead and purchased a pair of Apple's lightning earbuds. Personally, I can't tell the difference in music yet, and maybe that's cause either my phone can't process HD music or I just haven't found any to listen to yet. I don't usually listen to music while charging either, but I imagine by the time I do get a new iPhone, there will be many more wireless charging options out there in case I do decide I wish to listen and charge at the same time.

Submitted by thunderhorse82 on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I think this entire thing about the headphone jack or lack there of has been blown way out of control. Trust me folks, eventually every manufacture will follow suit, apple is just doing it first. Do you remember when floppy disks were being phased out and apple was at the forefront of that along with others? People freaked out about that too…and how did that turn out? No one is making anyone buy anything, if you are happy with your current phone by all means keep it. The advantages far out way the lack of a headphone jack. Am I telling you to buy one, no but is it the end of the world, absolutely not.

Submitted by Troy on Wednesday, September 28, 2016

To be honest the last time I used my headphone jack was back in the day when there were issues hearing voiceover while on a call e.g navigating automated phone systems.

Submitted by Steve on Wednesday, September 28, 2016

This was a well-written post. That said, the (to me) insane expense incurred to get something approximating what you had with an earlier iteration of this device is exactly why I have no interest in the iPhone 7. I'm still using a 5S, and will keep doing so until it stops receiving software updates (yes, I know that could be as soon as next year) or the apps on which I depend stop functioning. But then again, I'm past the point in my life where I want or need the absolute latest and greatest tech, so this is an easy decision for me.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I got my iPhone on 9/16/16, an still had not use the ear pod that it came with the phone. It seem that the battery is lasting longer. I coud be hearing audio book for 2 hours and the battery goes down very, very slow. Also I have one ear pease bluetooth tat last 11 hours of talking. In the past I used my head jack 2 times a year. No one is forcing anyone to get iPhone 7. May the apple be with you.

Submitted by Lorelei on Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I have an iPhone 6. I almost never use headphones or earbuds because I can't find any that are comfortable enough to make it worth my while. I'm wondering if the stereo speakers make listening to music while charging a better experience. I used to always use a speaker with a 3.5 plugin, if I used anything.

Submitted by Steve on Wednesday, September 28, 2016

From what I have heard, the 6 and 6S actually have better speakers in them. Keep in mind that for a decent stereo experience, you need more than three or four inches of separation between the left and right channels, which the 7 doesn't adequately provide. You will most likely want to hang on to your existing accessories.

Submitted by Voracious P. Brain on Friday, September 30, 2016

number 1, absolutely every pocket-sized phone I've owned since 2000 or so has at some point made a trajectory between my shirt pocket and the dog's water bowl. Losing the jack wins ultimately on these grounds alone. But...
number 2, I have pairs of very cheap earbuds next to my bed, in my backpack, in my office, my study, and usually in my pocket, used for not just my phone but Windows computers etc. I've had some of them for 20 years, probably, and not one of them has ever been fussy about pairing or run out of batteries. I also have $400 IEMs for music, and I don't want to trust them to the quality of the Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter. I'll be ok with the switch when Apple switches to a universal connector like usb-c so that digital headphones will work on all my devices and when I can get cheap speech-worthy earbuds in that format.
number 3, I did the audiophile thing for a few years and have thousands invested in my audio system. I have maybe 500 DSD albums and who knows how many 24-bit albums. To the folks wondering about hi-res above, it's 99.99% consumer hype--a product for the sake of selling a new product. Under the right conditions, it can make a bit of a difference, but it's "detectable" more than "meaningful." I don't reach for them any more than my mp3s and won't pay more than $2 extra to buy a hi-res version. What matters so much more is what happened in the mastering booth. Even so, I'm glad hi-res will be possible, because downsampling to the phone is somewhat more detectable and I don't want to lose any potential quality because of the phone. It wasn't the jack holding Apple back, though, since almost every DAC chip made for the past 10+ years has been 24-bit capable. Hi-res really eats up your bandwidth and storage, btw.
All that being said, I just bought an SE on purely economical grounds. I don't like paying over $500 for a device so easily lost, broken, or stolen, particularly when I will replace it in 2 years when the battery starts to lose its umph.

Submitted by John H on Friday, October 7, 2016

Hearing aid users have options that can Bluetooth audio direct to their aids both via accessories or to the aids themselves, depending on which kind of aid one has. In this way since the hearing aid is already programmed to their hearing loss, they don't need to try to find a way to EQ the audio etc. The frequency response of aids though is nothing like any headphones (even the cheapest ones), so there is that to consider. As for me, I depend on the analog headphone jack and charging my device while using a headphone jack. I rarely use my phone without headphones (and high end ones too.) if not that, I'm running the phone into a mixer. If I an using the phone with my aids, its streamed thru my Phonak ComPilot, which bluetooths the audio direct to my aids. This is how I can hear my phones audio at all when out, and the aids even duck normal everyday conversation when the phone goes off, so this way I can actually hear what my phone is saying at all when out. but most often, I'm totally dependant on the headphone jack. I've also got my phone jailbroken for other reasons for my hearing, plus just some cool cool stuff you can do with a jailbroken device. I have an iPhone 6 Plus that I got on December 23rd, 2014 (My first smartphone), and I have zero reason to even upgrade to the 6S Plus. Next time, I may go with the SE, or just try android. I'm very curious. and besides what kind of a DAC does apple put in that lightening to 3.5MM jack? I stream Tidal for my lossless music experience.

Submitted by DPinWI on Friday, October 7, 2016

A new iPhone 7, 128GB was supposed to be on my doorstep today. Unfortunately, I will have to wait another day.

My primary reason to upgrade was to gain more storage space. My iPhone 6, 16GB was okay until I got the new Nearby Explorer app. I really like it, but I can't have the stuff I want on my phone. Other than that, I didn't have any issues with the 6, but, I am excited about getting a new phone.

I won't miss the headphone jack. I almost always do Bluetooth, or the phone's speaker.

Submitted by Scott Davert on Friday, October 7, 2016

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

I just figured I'd throw my perspective out there. My issue is not so much with the dumping of the headphone jack itself, as it is more that I dislike the 1 port philosophy Apple seems to be leaning toward. This is actually the first device that is 1 port only, even the 12 inch Macbook has a headphone jack. I'm just not a fan of carrying around dongles for everything, I'd rather have a slightly thicker device that functions without needing to carry a bunch of accessories. And so if Appple keeps going the way of 1 port only, I'll migrate back to Windows or some other device which doesn't require my investment of more stuff. At this stage, for me, I see very little in the way of advantages to a 1 port system other than being more watter resistant. That said, I've never had any of my laptops or phones damaged by water. So for my user case, buying something like the iPhone 7 offers very little in the way of convenience over the SE, but some additional inconveniences. I'll also wait a bit more for Bluetooth technology to mature before I decide where my next purchase will be. I know Apple seems to think I "don't have the courage" since I'm not dunping more money in to a newer system, which may be true, I just have courage to save my money instead. LOL.

Submitted by John H on Saturday, October 8, 2016

In reply to by DPinWI

when I got my 6 Plus, I got the 128 GB model. Having never owned a smartphone before, and knowing I rip to FLAC and put FLAC files on my phone, and knowing that apple does not offer storage expantion options, I went with that storage tear. and I'm glad I did. Not that I've used all of that space, but I knew I didn't want to be one of those that had to micro manage my storage.

For me a big part is that I have to jailbreak to get what I need and want from a phone. I'm not sure that I'd like android, but at least want to try it when I upgrade. Apple likes to tell its users exactly what they are aloud to do with their phones, and I don't like that. I'll always have a toe in the ecosystem since I'll keep an iPod around, but I feel controlled when I use my nonjailbroken iPod. Bluetooth audio is compressed audio, so its deffinetly not something I like using. Dictation cannot understand me super well and SIRI is even worse. the Amazon and Google Maps app does much much better with my voice . Was it a good start for a smartphone? Absolutely. Might I stick to it and just continue to jailbreak? Maybe. Right now I'm happy with what I got. I'll keep this phone for another year at least. It is my opinion that apple phones are not intended for geeks that want the ultimate control over their phone. and while jailbreaking makes it geeky in a way, it comes with its own things to contend with. the cat and mouth game for one, the not being able to upgrade and if you do, losing your jailbreak for two. not to mention the many many things that if you are not jailbroken, you just can't do because Apple says no way. Its my phone, I should be able to do with it what I please. Especially considering first I paid for it, and second these things aren't cheap. I think I may be one of those people that find a use for all 3 ecosystems (Windows, iPhone and android.

Submitted by Ramy Moustafa on Sunday, May 13, 2018

In reply to by John H

sorry for changing the thread subject, but i found that you were Mentioning the Phonak Compilot, am about to percious the Phonak Audeo v30, and I need to buy the Wireless compilot. if you are using it. are there any bad issues when using with Voice over? do you recommend it or another thing?

Submitted by Ekaj on Monday, May 14, 2018

I just got an iPhone 7 as my first one ever, and I'm really liking it. It seems to me that it came with a set of earbuds, or perhaps they're the new pods or whatever. I'm curious now what the 3rd jack is for? Regarding charging my iPhone while in use, I've done this a couple times thus far and have experienced no issues. My tutor at Second Sense recommended that I delete the apps which I know I won't use, and so I deleted GarageBand since it is also on my Mac. He said doing this will also preserve battery life. The phone was 32 gb, but I don't recall off the top of my head how much memory I freed up. But VoiceOver and Siri are very responsive on this phone. Yes I have used Siri a lot thus far.

Submitted by HoldenM on Thursday, July 12, 2018

More a curious question than a gripe or annoyance at this stage of the game, I do have to wonder why Apple removed the headphone jack. After all, from everything I hear the Samsung Galaxy s9 has the headphone jack as well as the waterproofing, and a fingerprint sensor, as well as face ID and an iris scanner, or is that a different phone running Android?

That was how they framed moving on from the 3.5 MM headphone jack. I also seem to recall that they said it would make the device less prone to water and dirt, since it was one less place where something could get into the phone. If I'm honest, and this is only me typing here, I think this move was a bit premature. The simple fact is that Bluetooth technology just hasn't gotten far enough ahead for some people who rely on some devices that cannot tolerate lag very well. For example, my hearing aids connect via Bluetooth through another device, and the VO lag is pretty terrible overall. Not to mention the fact that if you are connected to streaming audio or if VO talks after a pause, the first few words are cut out. An inconvenience with an audio book or radio show, but quite a productivity loser if you are missing several words from VO because no such Bluetooth profile has been created to address this issue. Apple may also be rethinking this idea, the newer Macs still have the headphone jack. Anyway, I'm more reliant on braille these days at this point, so I went ahead and purchased an iPhone 8 now, since it's likely the last model that will have Touch ID. While Face ID does work for me on the X, it's not practical for my use case. I mainly use braille, which means I never pull my phone out of my pocket. I can simply unlock my device using my thumb, and do all of the interacting on my braille display. Face ID doesn't permit this. Maybe if it had Butt ID, I could leave the phone in my back pocket, but then said butt would crush the phone the moment I sat down. LOL