Rumors earlier this week suggested that Apple could drop the 3.5mm headphone port on the iPhone 7 in favor of an all-in-one revamped Lightning port. Now additional sources claim that in addition to axing the headphone port, Apple will add wireless charging technology to its next iPhone, and make the whole thing waterproof to boot.
The latest rumors, courtesy of a source speaking with Fast Company on Thursday, support earlier claims about the loss of the iPhone's headphone port as part of the company's quest for ever-thinner devices. Instead, Apple is reportedly working with longtime partner Cirrus Logic to adapt the iPhone's audio chipset to work exclusively with the device's Lightning port, which will force users to rely on new Lightning-equipped headphones, purchase an adapter, or use Bluetooth.
There are already a few third-party Lightning-equipped headphones on the market, and while more will quickly arrive should these rumors prove true, companies will need to pay a license fee to Apple to use the Lightning port and related technologies in their products.
One question posed by the use of the Lightning port for headphones is how users will accommodate simultaneous listening and charging. Fast Company's source claims that Apple's answer to this problem is the introduction of wireless charging, something that many non-Apple smartphones, in addition to Apple's own Apple Watch, are already capable of. The source claims that Apple considered adding wireless charging capabilities to both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, but will finally roll the feature out with the iPhone 7 this fall.
Perhaps most interesting of all, Fast Company's source also states that Apple is likely to add a waterproof coating to the iPhone 7, another first for the iPhone line and something that will help to increase customer satisfaction and decrease support costs (no more waiting at the Genius Bar with a bag of rice and broken dreams).
While all of the claimed changes to the iPhone 7 are plausible -- Lightning-based audio is already a thing, Android phones have had wireless charging for years, and Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S7 is also rumored to be waterproof -- Fast Company's source is eager to point out that Apple "has in the past pulled features from new phones very late in the development process," which is a very nice way of saying "don't hold me accountable if none of this pans out."
Still, thanks to part leaks and loose-lipped suppliers, we'll likely have a very good idea of what the iPhone 7 will, and won't, be packing as production ramps up later this year.