Apple vs. the Headphone Jack: How the Tides Are Changing for Headphone Technology
What’s the problem: By removing the 3.5 mm analog headphone jack, Apple is preventing consumers from listening to wired audio and charging the iPhone at the same time. In today’s mobile, energy-hungry world, this isn’t a choice that consumers should have to make. This is creating a frustrating user-experience that needs a solution.
This is the new landscape: Apple isn’t the first and won’t be the last ones to drop the headphone jack – we’ll start to see this with other smartphones coming to market. And what do dealers have to offer customers today to solve this issue? Yes, there are other lightning headphones and dongles on the market but those are not without limitation. Without a dedicated headphone jack, the unfortunate reality for iPhone 7 users, and others to come, is that they now have to choose between rocking out to their favorite playlist or making sure their device has enough charge to carry out all the other functions we use our phones for on a daily basis OR they have to go wireless in order to listen and charge.
Yes, there are wireless solutions available. But, for those consumers who understand the shortcomings of the wireless listening experience and prefer to listen wired there is nothing that will allow them to listen digitally and charge at the same time.
More and more companies are needing to change direction to exist in this new market landscape dictated in part by Apple and dealers will have to respond. But there is already new emerging headphone technology that will solve the charging/listening dilemma for consumers. I saw this trend coming and knew we’d need to be thinking about how to solve this issue for consumers. Three years ago I began working toward a digital headphone solution that would enable digital audio content through the data/charge ports of smartphones and mobile devices. I concluded smartphones and mobile devices would ditch the analog headphone jack in favor of digital audio via the data/charge port. This is proving to be true with the recent Apple announcements and the fact that some of the Android based devices have dropped the 3.5mm analog jack as well. When you think about it further, you realize that the entire headphone industry in rooted in legacy analog tech that is just begging for innovation and evolution. There is no better time than now for a disruptor to come to market.
A digital headphone receiving a digital stream from the data charge/port can offer a host of new features, and provide high resolution audio that raises the bar on the consumer listening experience. To me it just seems like an obvious evolution of technology.
As I was looking at shifting legacy analogy headphone technology into the digital domain with digital headphone concepts. It occurred to my business partner and I that it was a natural fit to have digital headphones charge the mobile device while you listen to music and other audio content. We founded Phaz together and engineered patented technology that allows users to transfer power from digital headphones to power boost mobile devices up to 70% while listening their favorite music with astounding sound quality. If you are already plugged in to the data/charge port to listen digitally why not charge your device at the same time. It’s a no-brainer.
How is the sound digital from a smartphone?
Apple iPhones, iPads etc. operate through a proprietary operating system, iOS (the latest version is called iOS10). All other, non-apple mobility products from various brands, LG, Samsung, HTC etc. operate through the Android OS (AOS) with its latest version being 6.0.1. All iOS and AOS mobility products are digital smart-devices. Music, movie and gaming content are stored in these devices in digital file formats. Audio must be converted from digital to analog in order for it to be amplified and listened to. To date, all mobile devices have incorporated a digital to analog converter chip, (D/A Converter), and an amplifier chip that feeds the 3.5mm analog headphone jack the analog audio signal.
Mobile devices in general have relatively poor quality D/A converters and amplifier chips. The analog audio output of mobile devices is thus poor compared to taking the digital content directly out of the mobile device through the data/charge port and doing all the processing inside a headphone with much better D/A converter chips and amplifier circuits.
When Apple removed the 3.5mm Audio Jack from the iPhone7 they kept the D/A converter and amplifier chips. The lightning cable can provide both analog audio output and direct digital output from the mobile device Lightning port. Apple is currently only providing analog wired earbuds that connect to the lightning port with the purchase of the phone. Apple also includes a dongle to give you back that headphone the analog 3.5mm jack, but this doesn’t mean you’re taking advantage of digital audio.
All Apple has done is drop the headphone jack. They are still requiring consumers to listen to analog sound. They have simply moved the analog sound to the lightning jack.
Phaz delivers digital audio by plugging into mobile device data/charge ports and gives users the ability to boost their phones at the same time up to 70%.
At CES, Phaz will launch a lineup of digital headphones with new features that are simply not possible in the analog domain, where the headphone industry has resided for decades.
Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack has validated our strategically planned line of digital In-Ear, On-Ear, and Over-Ear headphones with patented “Charge While You Listen Technology.”
What does the future look like in the digital realm?
Phaz is not reacting to Apple’s announcement to drop the 3.5mm headphone jack. We’ve been working on this technology for the past three years in anticipation of this digital shift, way before rumors began to surface about Apple dropping the headphone port. We recognized early that as analog headphones shift to digital that digital headphones would plug into the data/charge ports of mobile devices preventing the mobile devices from being able to be charged at the same time. Here we are today – the tides are changing and Phaz is ready and leading the way. You have to look at how business will be affected by these evolving tech trends. Do you, as a dealer, have solutions in your assortment that solve these emerging problems for consumers while raising the bar on the audio listening experience? This is what Phaz is all about. We are the first headphone company to be completely digital.
David Munzlinger is the president of Phaz Music, a headphone manufacturer that has developed technology to allow their headphones to charge a user's device while listening to music. Phaz headphones use micro USB and lightning cables to connect to the listening device.