Leaving this one up for posterity. As of writing this we're two generations deep into iPhones without headphone jacks and the Google Pixel is too. I skirted around the iPhone 7 doom by getting a case that offers a headphone jack. It's annoying, and user hostile but it works decently. It's not nearly as friendly as having a physical jack. I still do not own any bluetooth headphones.
Rumors aren't part of my bloggingm, but occasionally I've been prone to rant about Apple. The iPhone 7 rumor mill sparked an unusual amount of interest on my part, not for what it included but what it didn't include: the 3.5 mm headphone jack. I've always regarded the Lightning port as a senseless money grab despite mostly preferring form factor. Yesterday that rumor shifted to a slightly more sane position, the headphone jack stays! Rejoice...!?
The silliness of it all is the lightning port creates the insanity that users either must buy Bluetooth headphones or worse, a dongle for their existing headphones and forgo the ability to charge and listen to the phone simultaneously. The only advantage lightning ports offer is bus powering for noise canceling headphones which can already be attained without sacrificing the 3.5mm headphone jack, and a thinner phone that's even more prone to bending. It's the same asinine behavior that lead to the new MacBook featuring only 1 USB port, requiring pretty much all users to purchase a $79 dongle for charging/video out and the same insanity that lead to the Mac Pro being mostly panned as a flop by actual Pro users * yours truly and many pundits.
Apple's opinion is ports is clear, and its disdain for modularity is frightening. While I normally agree with famed Apple pundit, John Gruber, Headphone jacks are the new floppy drive. His reasoning is flawed, very flawed.
Why would Apple care about headphone compatibility with Android? If Apple gave two shits about port compatibility with Android, iPhones would have Micro-USB ports. In 1998 people used floppy drives extensively for sneaker-netting files between Macs and PCs. That didn’t stop Apple from dropping it.
I remember 1998 too and perhaps more vividly, and everyone had Zip Drives and applications came on CD-Rom in big funky boxes. The floppy was already on its death bed, as 1.4mb was too small, the only things that came on floppies in 1998 for Mac users were drivers which could easily be printed on optical media. Everyone was asking for something better by then, hence why my PowerMac G3 450 that I bought in 1999 had one internally. While the iMacs did kill the floppy, they had USB, ethernet, a built-in modem, a CD drive and it wasn't long before they had CD-RW/DVD drives.
By the time the MacBook Air eschewed the optical drive, anyone looking to transfer files had the internet, USB drives and networks for file transfer, all faster and offering exponential storage over optical media. Much like the iMac, the MacBook Airs even added Lightning ports, a much-welcomed addition. Even by the mid-2000s, the internet had become the preferred way for most software distribution.
If anything, the 3.5mm headphone jack has hit a renaissance. My computers all have them (My media PC and Mac Pro have several). My Lightning port dock has two. My old iPod has one. My 2013 car has one. My PS4 controllers each have one. My iPad has one. My USB connected speakers, Vanatoo Transparent Ones still have one. My old Klipsch Promedias have both input and a nice front facing jack. My Numark NS7s have one (alongside its 1/4 inch), and I'm not even counting the test bed of devices I have at work for development. If we went back in time, 10 years ago, my car did not have a 3.5mm jack, nor did my game consoles have them built in, and my Motorola Razr didn't either, and that's not counting the items listed above that simply didn't exist in 2006.
Outside of a few fanboys, No one is asking for a replacement for the 3.5mm.
Apple switching to lightning port makes headphones incompatible even with their own Macs. I have a 2015 MacBook Retina on my desk as I type these very words and I can most surely assert that it does not have a lightning port but does have a 3.5mm jack. Same goes for my 2008 Mac Pro. On my desk, I have two pairs of $200+ headphones at work that at best are going require a dongle and at worse will not be usable with iOS.
The craziest part is we're in a world where we can have our cake and eat it too. Lightning port headphones, Bluetooth headphones, and 3.5mm all can continue to coexist. The Verge's Nilay Patel is 100% correct, Taking the headphone jack off phones is user-hostile and stupid, and I will not be buying an iPhone 7 if it doesn't have a 3.5mm jack.
Gruber followed up with the following quote:
Removing the analog headphone jack is inevitable, and the transition is inevitably irritating. This is what makes Apple different. They will initiate a painful transition for a long-term gain. Other companies will avoid inducing pain at all costs — and you wind up using VGA until the mid-2010s.
This analogy is clever if you do not understand the inherent physics of the problem. Video ≠ Audio. Unlike say HDMI vs VGA which offers an inherently better picture, lightning cables do not.
Video signal transfer isn't powering a transducer. No matter the signal chain of audio, if you want to hear it, you're inevitably going to convert audio to an analog waveform by DAC to an amplifier then to a transducer. All a lightning port cable does is delay the conversion. If you've ever wondered why the staying power of analog has been so strong, its due to the physics. Using a lightning cable solves nothing, and places the amp/DAC outside something the phone already provides, which in turn equates to expensive dongles or expensive headphones. For home theaters, we use a centralized receiver that takes digital inputs like HDMI, S/PDIF (Toslink or coax), Bluetooth/wifi and USB, decodes/converts the signals to analog to be amplified and transmitted rather than sticking a DAC/amplifier in individual speaker.
Taking this stance isn't standing in the way of progress, it's actually arguing for progress, it's an open standard that's virtually future proof, almost universal until we do away with transducers as we know them. If it were truly about thinness, we'd have a simple plug adapter from 3.5mm to a thinner variant as we do from 1/4 inch to 3.5 mm. This isn't progress; this is shackling us to a closed standard that Apple can tax.