Also known as the mini-plug, mini-jack, mini-phones, the 3.5 (mm) or just the headphone jack. This thing has been around since the 1970’s [actually 1870’s!], and I’m pretty sure Apple is going to take it out back and end it within the next year. Better send the kids off!
10 Reasons why they will do it —
- It’s the main reason mobile iOS devices aren’t even thinner or smaller. Look at the Nano – almost all plug. No way they make a watch with that port. Lightning replaced the old iOS plug mainly for size, this is the next step in reducing size.
- The features of the mini-jack have already been extended by Apple as far as it can go, to pass power and controls over the 3rd ring in addition to the stereo audio.
- Mini-jack has never been known for sound quality, reliability, or interference management.
- Apple likes killing things that have become universal “lowest common denominator” standards. No one sticks up for the mini-jack anymore.
- The new thing in audio is HD digital, either from the device (Pono, Fiio, Walkman), or from an external DAC running out of the lightning port. The mini-jack doesn’t help much here, in fact most see it as a hindrance if you have to push hi-fi audio over it.
- The other new thing in audio is streaming to wireless speakers, which also doesn’t require a mini-jack.
- The 3-ring mini-jack has been the culprit in most of my iOS hardware failures over the years. I haven’t had alot, but they almost always involve the mini-jack. In talking to Apple Store employees, the mini-jack seems to be the main repair item on iOS devices, so it’s ripe for replacement.
- Beats and a few others are working on headphones that have an external DAC in the headphone and connect to the iOS device with a lightning connector. Beats now is Apple, and I think this is the new model for their headphones.
- Apple’s not particularly thrilled that you can use a pair of headphones circa 1982 to listen to an iOS device. 7 years ago that compatibility was needed for acceptance, but now that the whole world has portable digital music – time to buy a new kind of headphones.
- The pushback and “outrage” over abandoning this standard (and everyone’s existing stereo crap) is something Apple can handle, and actually seems to relishes in. They will probably show how their lightning connector has much better specs and allows so many more features over the wire. They love this differentiation. They want people to see it, go ‘let me see’, and then ‘wow that’s cool’. Old timers listing the reasons this is stupid are left behind with their thumb keyboards and their floppy disks.
Bye-bye mini-jack, it’s been a good run. I think you’ll stick around on non-Apple products for the next 10-15 years but the writing is on the wall, you are about to be replaced by the lightning connector or some other digital connector.