Ding dong. Are you ready for your wired headphones to be gone? Apple’s new iPhone 7 pushes the masses to ditch wired headphones. But for health concerns and hassle, I will skip the upgrade for now.
The headlines out of the Apple iPhone 7 release:
In tech land, fall is officially kicked off at Apple’s annual September iPhone event. Last week, fans watched the unveiling of the latest iPhone – the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus – at the event in California last week. I have had my fair share of fun covering that event and speculating about the news over the years.
The new iPhones have upgraded features you expect with every new phone release: a (2 hour) longer battery life, sleeker design and improved camera capabilities. They also are Apple’s first water resistant devices (though NOT water proof) and can work for 30 min submerged in about 3+ feet of water, though competitors like Samsung offer more.
But the headline grabber this year was news that for Apple, the days of headphone jacks are numbered; as the new design that has entirely eliminated its headphone jack. Yes. Gone.
Ok, so how exactly will connecting headphones to an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus work? Let me explain: Instead of plugging your traditional wired headphones into a 3.5mm jack, you now connect via an adapter (see above) into your Lightning port, where you normally charge your phone. Alternatively, you can purchase wireless headphones, such as the newly introduced Apple AirPods for $159, that work over Bluetooth once paired, leaving your port open to charge.
Insert problems when removing headphone jacks:
This news is a real pain in the &%$ for those of us, like me, who lose headphones on a regular basis (and hence are afraid to own a pair of $159 ones, which are of no better quality than my wired ones and have no controls for music, volume or answering calls at this time). Also, there are some of us who aren’t ready to go wireless because we use wired headphones with non-Apple devices, out of preference or need.
In addition, a big downside of the new placement is that the use of wired headphones can come at the expense of charging your phone, unless you purchase a special device to allow you to do both! To be more clear, when you connect your wired headphones (via dongle adapter) to your Lightning port, you give up ability to charge your phone in the same spot! For those of us who regularly sit on 2 hour conference calls with only a 40% battery life, this is a risky trade off even with the enhanced battery life. Granted, third parties have already come to the rescue with simultaneous charging adapters for $40. But already the number of new cords you need are too much for my liking at this time.
Also a new concern for me, new evidence of health risks associated with wireless device use, including wireless headphones, because of the proximity of radiation to the brain, as a widely reported study done on animals revealed this May. In fact, a recent CNN article states, “RF of any wireless device — a cell phone, Bluetooth headphones or a wireless router — emits non-ionizing radiation. These devices aren’t as dangerous as those that emit ionizing radiation, such as X-ray machines, but some experts remain wary of them nonetheless.” Wearing a wired headset can reduce radiation exposure from a cell phone, according to experts. Though contrarians will argue that Bluetooth waves carry little energy because they travel short distances and are a safer choice than keeping a phone near your head. Even though I am aware that wired headsets may go the way of the dinosaur, eventually, and the scientific evidence is controversial, the hassle and health concerns aren’t worth a switch for me at this time.
For early adopters and dedicated Apple fans, the upgrade is a must. In fact, the design change is welcoming because once you pair your Apple AirPods, they will work with Bluetooth-enabled Apple products like your Apple Watch and Mac in one of the most simple interfaces we’ve seen for pairing.
If you’re on board, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be available in more than 25 countries beginning this Friday, September 16. The AirPods become available in late October.
Visit www.apple.com for more details.