New iPhone may take the jack out of the box

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New iPhone may take the jack out of the box

When Apple shows off its latest iPhone this week, it will answer a question it hasn’t had to address in years: “What’s it putting in the box?’’ (Besides the iPhone itself, that is.)

The iPhone has traditionally shipped with a pair of Apple’s iconic earbuds, made famous in early ads for the iPod music player. But tech analysts and industry bloggers, citing leaks from Apple’s Asian suppliers, say it looks like the tech giant has decided to do away with the analog headphone jack in the next iPhone.

That means the earbuds themselves are in for a revamp, one that could hint at Apple’s plans for expanded use of wireless technology.

The headphone jack is drawing attention partly because there might not be many other major changes in this year’s iPhone. The new models - the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, if Apple sticks to its usual convention - are expected to offer faster processors, more memory and improved cameras.

But despite a recent drop in iPhone sales, most Apple watchers expect the company to save its next big overhaul for 2017, the 10th anniversary of the first iPhone’s release.

Though it might not seem dramatic, eliminating the 3.5-millimeter analog jack would be controversial. On the plus side, it could let Apple make the iPhone slightly thinner and possibly waterproof; it might also free up space for other components. But it also means future iPhone buyers will need new headsets that use a digital connection. Apple already sells wireless headsets from Beats Electronics, which it acquired two years ago.

While Apple hasn’t commented, reports of the change have sparked an outcry from those who believe the old analog jacks worked perfectly well.

For many people, listening to music and watching videos constitutes one of the main uses for a smartphone. “People enjoy listening to music on their smartphones today as much as they listen to music at home,’’ said Brian Blau, a tech analyst at Gartner.

Apple has a history of preemptively tossing out old technology, often prompting lamentations from users - at least until they got used to it. Co-founder Steve Jobs famously decided the first iMacs didn’t need a floppy disk drive in 1998, years before Windows PCs followed suit. Later, he made waves by selling MacBooks without a CD or hard drive.

Apple, however, isn’t the first company to do away with the headphone jack. This year, Lenovo’s Motorola division and Chinese smartphone maker LeEco have released phones without analog audio jacks, relying instead on cords that plug into a new digital port known as USB-C. Some believe Apple’s real goal is to move people away from cords and plugs altogether.

Widespread adoption of wireless headsets might also encourage people to stream music through the Apple Watch, said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at the research firm Creative Strategies. That would be a first step toward getting them interested in smartwatch services, she suggested.

Most iPhone owners will get used to new technology, Milanesi predicted. Still, she cautioned, “people don’t like change.’’ AP
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