- iPhone 7 gets rid of headphone socket
- Stereo speakers and dual-lens camera
APPLE has announced the iPhone 7 and as the internet rumours suggested, it has got rid of the traditional headphone socket. This is likely to annoy a lot of Apple fans as they will now require an adapter for existing headphones.
Apple said its lightning connector could be used with a headphone adapter. The company is now also promoting the use of wireless earphones and has released a set of its own called Airpods.
The 3.5mm headphone jack was made popular by Sony's Walkman cassette players, but it was actually first introduced in one of the Japanese company's transistor radios in 1964.
Also, this is not the first time that a smartphone manufacturer has ditched the headphone jack. Lenovo's Moto Z and some models from Chinese manufacturer LeEco have also launched without the 3.5mm socket this year.
In other features, the home button in the iPhone 7 can now detect how firmly it is being pressed and provide vibration-based feedback, but it will no longer depress. The new handsets can be submerged in water up to depths of one metre for 30 minutes at a time. The larger iPhone 7 Plus model gets a two-lens camera on its rear, allowing it to offer a choice of focal lengths.
Apple suggests there are advantages to using its Airpods, which will cost a hefty US$159. During the launch event in San Francisco, the company demonstrated that the wireless headphones could be paired with the iPhone 7 much more quickly than with Bluetooth wireless headsets.
The Airpods also have infrared sensors to detect when they are in the user's ears. This allows them to automatically stop music when they are taken out. Motion sensors in the buds also allow Apple's virtual assistant Siri to be activated for voice commands by double-tapping the sides. Apple said the Airpods would last "up to five hours" on a single charge and come with a recharging case that can extend their life up to 24 hours before it is necessary to plug into the main power outlet.
Another change to the audio in the iPhone 7 is the introduction of stereo speakers, one at each end of the handset. According to Apple, this means the iPhone 7 can deliver twice the volume of the iPhone 6S. The iPhone 7 Plus has both a wide angle and telephoto lens on its back, both using their own 12 megapixel sensors. This allows the owner to quickly switch to a tighter shot without sacrificing image quality.
Apple says it will also be able to combine data gathered by both camera sensors to simulate an effect usually associated with larger DSLR cameras. It said software would be able to automatically pick people's faces out from the background, keeping the humans in focus while blurring the rest of the shot. The feature will not, however, be available at launch but will rather be provided as an update later on.
The new phones are available to buy from September 16th. Prices start at US$769 for a 32GB version of the phone.
Apple also unveiled a new version of its smartwatch, which it describes as the "ultimate fitness device". The firm said the Apple Watch Series Two is water resistant up to 50 metres. It also introduces a built-in GPS location tracker, letting running routes be tracked without carrying a paired phone. It also has a more powerful processor and a brighter screen.
The real surprise at the event was the appearance of videogame legend, Shigeru Miyamoto. He announced that Nintendo's famous plumber would appear in his first iPhone videogame before the end of the year. He also confirmed that the running-themed adventure would be an iOS exclusive at launch. It was also revealed that the Apple Watch would soon gain the ability to tell owners how close they are to nearby monsters in Pokemon Go and to show which characters have hatched from eggs in the mixed reality title.
So is the new iPhone and Apple Watch enough to revive Apple's fortunes?
Apple analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo at KGI Securities, predicts that Apple, in the “worst case scenario,” could see iPhone shipments in 2016 lower than in 2014. To make matters worse, Kuo anticipates that Apple will be the only top five smartphone manufacturer to see a decline in shipments year over year.
According to IDC, sales of Apple Watches have also taken a tumble this year. And there is no prediction that it will improve immediately.
What about the removal of the headphone socket? The company said it had taken "courage" to take the step.
But why take it at all?
As Samsung has proved with the Galaxy S6 and S7, it is perfectly possible to make a water resistant smartphone with a headphone socket. It is obvious that its only goal is to fleece Apple buyers. Even during the launch event full of dedicated Apple fans, the hall went silent when the 'feature' was announced.
Buyers of the new phone will now need to factor in the extra cost of the Airpods. Wireless headset manufacturers making compatible headphones will need to pay Apple a licensing fee. As a popular saying on the net goes, you have a right to be fleeced if you are an Apple fan.
The core issue still remains - where is the real innovation? All the real features on the new iPhone 7 have already been implemented by other manufacturers.
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