A new image purported to be that of an internal component of the upcoming iPhone 7 seems to be proof enough of Apple persisting with the 3.5mm audio jack, something that was earlier rumoured to have been junked in favour of Apple’s Lightning cable for audio output.
That said, the usual precautionary measures that such unconfirmed rumours need to be treated with is equally applicable here; perhaps more so considering the image comes from anonymous sources in China, and posted online via Weibo. As such, there is no way one can make out if the part depicted indeed belongs to an iPhone 7 device, or as Nowhereelse.fr points out, it could be just one of the scores of such that feeds China’s notorious counterfeit industry.
The above also goes contrary to what the rumor mills have been churning out off late, that the new iPhone 7 would boast of an even slimmer profile made possible with debunking the headphone jack. Instead, Apple could rely on Lightning port or Bluetooth as means to output audio though some have also been advocating using USB-C port would make more sense considering the relative popularity of the latter among manufacturers.
Another case scenario for Apple will be to retain the 3.5mm jack for the smaller (and cheaper) iPhone variant while ditching the same in the higher end models. Apple is also reported to be developing EarPods featuring Lightning connectors to go with such iPhone devices.
There has also been a growing clamor to render the now ubiquitous 3.5mm audio jack obsolete, something that Apple has been quite about as well. There are several good reason for Apple to back such efforts. For instance, doing away with the headphone jack will free up space to include another speaker at the bottom, thereby enhancing the sound quality of the new iPhone 7 drastically.
While the above might be specific to Apple and its iPhone, there also exists other benefits of removing the headphone jack which is equally applicable to every device featuring such ports. For instance, Lightning or USB-C ports are dual purpose as those can be used to transfer data, charge the device as well as output digital quality audio. In contrast, headphone jacks are single purpose and are able to output analog quality audio.
While there may be valid reasons to back such efforts, there is no way the change can be brought upon overnight or in a painless manner. The reason for that lies in the huge proliferation that the 3.5mm audio output standard has achieved in the several decades that it has been in existence. Replacing all of those is obviously a time taking exercise, not to mention the additional costs to be incurred.