Apple Inc. unveiled new iPhones without headphone jacks Wednesday, embracing a wireless future and a potential new source of accessory sales.
“Our smartphones are packed with technologies and we all want more," Apple marketing head Phil Schiller said during an event at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. “They’re all fighting for space within that enclosure and including an old analogue headphone jack doesn’t make sense."
Apple showed off new wireless headphones called AirPods that go on sale in October for $159. The AirPods have to be charged and have five hours of battery life, according to Apple. The charging can be done via a case which holds the headphones when they’re not being used, the company said. AirPods are compatible with iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple’s Watch, it added. A double tap on the gadgets connects them to Siri so users can speak to Apple’s digital assistant.
Standard headphones, including the ones Apple has sold for several years, will be harder to plug into the new iPhones. The company, based in Cupertino, California, opened up the iPhone’s Lightning charging connector as a port for existing headphones to plug into. It will sell the new phones with a free adapter to make this work. The new iPhone models will also come bundled with a pair of EarPod headphones with a new connector that fits directly into the Lightning port.
The removal of the headphone jack is Apple’s second significant port-related change in the past five years. In 2012 with the iPhone 5, Apple removed the then-standard 30-pin connector in favor of the smaller Lightning port. Apple has yet to give any indication that headphone jacks will disappear from other products, like Macs and iPads.
Multiple headphone makers are building new headphones that are wireless or plug into the Lightning connector, Apple also said. The company’s Beats by Dr. Dre brand introduced Bluetooth earphones called Beatsx for $149.95 in the U.S.