An iPhone 7 report may contain a groundbreaking revelation about Apple's future direction. Fast Company, citing an anonymous source, said Thursday the device would ditch the headphone jack, backing up earlier stories making the same claim.
The report also said Apple has plans to bring wireless charging support to the iPhone range. If true, it's a move that could lead to the death of the phone’s last remaining port.
With wireless charging, Apple could in theory remove the Lightning port. It would be a bold step, but the building blocks are in place to make it happen. Audio and video can transmit through AirPlay and Bluetooth. Third-party devices already interact with the iPhone through their own cable-free systems. More and more professional cameras ship with Wi-Fi, making the USB connector kit less and less relevant. With charging covered, Apple could finally make the jump to a zero-wire device.
It’s clear Apple has a cordless future in mind. During the unveiling of the 12-inch MacBook in March 2015, Phil Schiller, senior vice president of marketing, went to great pains to stress how gorgeous the laptop looked in a wire-free setup. ”The only intelligent vision of the future of the notebook is one without wires!” he said. ”We don't have to plug up cables to connect to things!”
No tangling and untangling. No messy desks. Just slim slabs of metal, with dazzling glass screens, all communicating through the ether. It would almost seem like magic.
Time To Ditch The Wire?
The iPhone would not be Apple’s first all-wireless flagship device. Packed with magnetic charging and the latest radios, without a port in sight, the Apple Watch shows the company is not afraid to make a high-profile dive into the futuristic deep end.
The sole exception to the watch's wire-free design is a hidden 6-pin diagnostic port. Access is not for the faint of heart: Wannabe tinkerers need to slide off the watch band, wiggle the metal door with a sewing needle and pop it off without applying too much pressure. On a $10,000 watch, jabbing a lump of 18-karat gold with a sharp sewing kit isn’t exactly an attractive prospect.
The port is a perfect step forward into a fully cable-free future. A smartwatch-wearer could go the whole lifespan of an Apple Watch without ever knowing the port existed. Genius Bar employees have a way of hooking up a faulty device when it all goes wrong. Removing the visible ports has not hindered the watch's repairability.
An iPhone without any ports may prove irksome, frustrating and hard to use. What happens on airplanes, or when the batteries run out on peripherals? Cables provide a safe, convenient method for connecting a device without worrying about dropped signals.
On the other hand, it would mean more internal space inside the iPhone. That could lead to bigger batteries, thinner devices, or even larger screens.
With the Apple Watch, the company used the Qi open wireless charging standard in its design. If Apple uses the same technology in the iPhone 7, it could also mean a future based entirely around standards supported in the wider industry. No more weird-shaped ports, pricey dongles, or strange incompatibilities. With that in mind, maybe ditching the Lightning port would be for the best.