For well over a year, rumors have been circulating that Apple was planning to nix the headphone jack in one of its upcoming iPhones. Now, new evidence has come to light suggesting that change could be upon us as soon as next year, when the iPhone 7 is expected to come out of Cupertino. 

At this month's Portable Audio Festival in Japan, multiple sources cited by AppleInsider and The Verge have claimed that Apple is looking to add high resolution streaming audio to its Apple Music Service in 2016. According to the reports, the planned 96kHz / 24-bit audio is specifically designed for use with headphones that connect to iPhones via the Lightening port. 

If the iPhone company was to remove the long-time standard 3.5mm headphone jack from its handsets, it wouldn't be the first time Apple took something away to make room for an improvement. In fact, that's simply Apple's way. Earlier this year, for example, Apple unveiled its newest MacBook Pro, which replaced the traditionally separate power, Ethernet and USB terminals with a lone USB-C port. Even in light of this, mere consistency has not yet been enough to convince iPhone users that minimalist design is worth rendering their existing headphones incompatible with their smartphones. 

Taking a closer look at what an iPhone without a headphone jack might look like, however, it is clear that the device would in fact benefit from far more tangible advantages than just improved design, some of which iPhone owners might see as being worth the temporary inconvenience. Here are a few ways the iPhone could stand to gain from losing its 3.5mm port:

  • Improved battery life: The headphone jack is currently the iPhone's deepest port, meaning that removing it would free up valuable space inside the handset Apple could use to instead include, say, a larger battery. This option could be especially popular considering the challenge Cupertino has faced in creating batteries that can keep up with the increasing power of their iPhones. Any iPhone 6S owners who have found themselves suddenly having to charge their phones in the middle of the day should know exactly how important this is. 
  • Thinner handset: In addition to being its deepest, the 3.5mm jack is also the iPhone's largest port. With the headphone jack included, Apple smartphones can get little thinner than the 6 models, which already leave very little room between the edges of the phone and the port. 
  • Potentially waterproof: While it might seem like a far away dream, most of us have imagined owning a fully waterproof iPhone. By eliminating the difficult-to-protect headphone jack, Apple would get one step closer to releasing a phone you could use to take underwater photos without a case. 

While none of the above improvements include ways for iPhone owners to use their old headphones with a new iPhone, they may make it easier to swallow the pill of purchasing a second pair. 

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