iPhone 7 Headphones

The new Apple headphone jack, or lack thereof is perhaps the most talked about gaffe of the cellphone area after maybe antenna gate or bend-gate. But for business travelers it is more than an inconvenience.

If for some reason you really did believe that Apple’s new headphone tech was the wave of the future I have several issues that still need to be discussed.

  • Bluetooth still isn’t perfectly safe. It broadcasts your MAC address and can be used by attackers to figure out who you are as you travel. It’s the main reason I disable it when I’m in airports or out on the town. It’s okay in a conference room or at home where everyone there already presumably knows you. But beyond that, it’s really not a great idea to keep turned on, and that is assuming there are no vulnerabilities left in it beyond that, which I would never assume. More attack surface is bad. Weary travelers have enough to worry about.
  • It’s not noise cancelling. For those of us who have to do international travel, the lack of noise canceling capabilities is not just a slight inconvenience, it’s the difference between getting a decent nap and hearing the annoying conversation behind you about conspiracy theories by two misinformed luddites for 8 hours straight.
  • The battery life on the headphones are 5 hours. That’s not even long enough to make it through one international flight and definitely not one with a layover. Please don’t talk to me about charging my equipment on layovers either, most of the time I’m running through airports – the very last thing I have time to do is sit and have a latte while my headohones recharge. And you can’t charge it while you use it, so you’re stuck pulling it out of your ears, charging it up for 15 minutes so you get another three hours. If you manage to make it through the entire flight only charging it once, it’s because you charged it immediately before the flight. I don’t know about you, but I have better things to do than manage my headphone battery while I’m traveling through foreign lands.
  • I understand there is a dongle adapter for the phone but that is yet one more thing to manage, and it fully takes up the same port that I need to charge the phone. Of the two my phone’s battery will always trump the headphones, so yet another reason I’ll be without headphones – while I charge my phone. There is apparently some dock that can be purchased that will allow for charging and listening at the same time, but that is yet one more thing to juggle and lose. Further increasing complexity and making it harder on business travelers.
  • If you want to do a presentation with the HDMI cable from your phone, you cannot have sound at the same time without aforementioned dock and HDMI adapter combo. That’s a lot of pieces to go wrong, get broken, get lost, or otherwise not work with any sort of protective case. This could be fixed by a bigger/more complex dongle, or an external Bluetooth to RCA jack device, but that has not been introduced yet.

I don’t care about the cost personally, or the ever present Apple obsession to reduce cluttered on the device, or the issues with Apple’s desire for DRM. But I do care about reduced convenience and worse travel conditions. This was a big miss, and until they fix it, I do not recommend switching away from the 6 series of iPhones. It’s not courageous – it’s poor user design.