On Apple and Headphone Jacks

“Courage,” said Phil Schiller, in 2016, when he announced that Apple was removing the headphone jack from the iPhone 7. I recall that, when I heard this, I was stunned by how a key Apple executive used this word in a marketing presentation. Courage was Rosa Parks not moving to the back of the bus; courage was Nelson Mandela spending 27 years in prison. Courage is not removing a technology that works in order to push people toward wireless headphones.

Apple and headphone jacks… I don’t know why this is something that is often problematic. Take, for example, the AirPods Max. I recently bought this headset, and, while it’s a Bluetooth headset, it can also be used plugged into a headphone jack (if you buy the $35 Lightning to 3.5 mm Audio Cable).

But there’s a problem. The lightning port on the AirPods Max is on the right. Traditionally, cables are on the left of headphones. And the headphone jack on the new iMac is on the left. So if I want to use this with my iMac, the cable will run accros my keyboard and get in the way. (On my previous iMac, the headphone jack was on the right side, on the back of the device.)

Yet on my MacBook Air – and pretty much every Mac laptop I can recall – the headphone jack is on the right. So if you have standard headphones, the cable will cross the keyboard on those devices.

Apple pays attention to small details in some areas, but not in this one. This is something that should be consistent, and take into account how headphones work.

10 thoughts on “On Apple and Headphone Jacks

    • I could, but the digital crown and control button would therefore be on the left, and, since I’m right-handed, that would be a problem. Not insurmountable, but if I have to do that every time I use them wired, it is a problem. (I want to be able to use them wired to edit podcasts, because Bluetooth latency would be a problem.)

  1. “Yet on my MacBook Air – and pretty much every Mac laptop I can recall – the headphone jack is on the left”

    The headphone jack on the M1 MacBook Air is on the right side (as it is on the 2016 MacBook Pro on which I’m typing this). Maybe the machine you’re using is the last to have the port on the “wrong side”?

  2. Apple pays attention to what Apple wants. And one of those ‘wants’ is money. Apple saw the expansion of Bluetooth and instead of just eliminating a jack for the purposes of progress, decided that making and selling a Bluetooth device like AirPods would be the right decision. That’s my opinion only, but it makes sense in a lot of ways, courage not being one of them.

  3. > Yet on my MacBook Air – and pretty much every Mac laptop I can recall – the headphone jack is on the right.

    Fwiw, on my MacBook Air (2013), the headphone jack is on the left.

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