Get email delivery of the Cadence blog featured here
In the past few days, there have been many posts on the Internet around Apple planning to remove the 3.5mm audio jack support from the upcoming iPhone 7 to create the slimmest iPhone in history. Given their multiple attempts in the past, it’s perfectly understandable, and for sure the existing Lightning connector is capable of providing this functionality.
From users’ perspective, however, it obviously raises a lot of controversy as the current audio jack is most probably the most popular analog connection in the world, and removing it would cause lots of compatibility issues, also with very expensive headphones and headsets people currently use with their iDevices.
Now, if we take a broader view of what’s going on in the connector standardization space, it’s impossible to ignore the big revolution going on in USB right now, with the Type-C connector taking market by storm. It’s officially called the fastest adopting USB specification to date and USB itself is the most popular serial interface there is, already shipping billions of devices a year. USB Type-C is being applied not only to USB data transfer as the legacy connectors did, but also to provide power (through the Power Delivery 2.0 specification) and high-resolution display (in DisplayPort and MHL Alternate modes).
People in the know are aware of the part of the USB Type-C specification that talks about the Type-C Audio accessory mode. So far, both USB-IF and everyone else have stayed silent on the topic, for various reasons, but maybe this is how the dots should actually be connected? Wouldn’t it make more sense for Apple, and other vendors, too, to standardize audio over USB Type-C and provide better user experience (battery-less active noise cancelling comes to mind immediately)?
Compared to the Lightning plug, the Type-C connector is more bulky, so by going this route Apple would not be able to top the current iPhone 6S slimness, but is it really that important to the end user? Who would not want the iPhone to stay at the current thickness, but add faster charging, and much faster USB transfer speeds (Lightning is USB 2.0 only)?
I like the idea of the USB Type-C connector a lot, and its implementation in future iPhones would pave way for true widespread adoption of the standard in consumer and automotive markets.