Another iPhone Deficiency

I must preface this by saying that I really do like the iPhone; it’s the best phone I’ve ever had, and, when one discounts the iPhone’s advantages of connectivity and size, the second-best PDA I’ve ever had, after the Newton.

That said, the thing continues to piss me off. Today’s chief annoyance comes from the headphone jack. As you may have read, the iPhone uses a standard headphone jack, which means that any normal mini-headphone plug will fit.

That is, any mini-headphone plug that has an extraordinarily slim shank. will fit. The headphone jack itself is pretty standard, but it’s recessed into the body of the phone:

Iphone Headphone1

When I try to plug my very nice and fairly expensive Shure headphones into it, this is what happens:

Iphone Headphone3

Similarly, I can’t plug in my car cassette adapter or anything else. (And the car adapter that plugs into the iPod dock connector on the bottom will charge the iPhone, but will not get sound out of the thing without shutting off the phone functions; the iPhone refuses to work except with new, specially-shielded car RF-modulator adapters. Which, of course, don’t exist yet.)

I can listen to the iPhone using the tinny built-in speaker, or using the Apple-supplied headphones, or not at all. And the Apple-supplied headphones are not a particularly good choice as they seem to block no outside noise whatsoever.

According to Apple, the reason for this design idiocy is to anchor the plug, so that it’s impossible (or at least more difficult) to snap it off in there. Fair enough; I’ve done this only about twice in my life, but let’s allow that the iPhone’s headphone jack is very delicate and must be protected.

Why, then, did Apple not supply an adapter with the thing? And if getting one free is too much to ask, why is it impossible to buy these adapters? AT&T stores, unsurprisingly, have never heard of the thing. Apple stores report that the sell out of the adapters as soon as they get them in.

Of course they sell out of them, because you can’t use decent headphones, or listen to the thing in the car, without one. If they’ve sold a million iPhones so far, I’d figure that there’s a market for about… a million adapters. Maybe more, if people want to leave them on the end of their headphones, car adapters, etc. rather than carry them around with their phones.

And yet they are effectively unavailable. Amazon lists them as ‘Usually ships within 4 to 6 weeks’. Apple will sell me a Belkin adapter and ship it in ’5-7 business days’, or one of the Apple-branded adapters for twice the price in ’2-4 weeks’.

What. The. Fuck. There’s a failure here in that Apple decided that the iPhone should have a non-standard headphone jack — because that’s what it is, ultimately — in the first place. But presumably there’s a reason for this.

The more serious failure here is in the fact that Apple cannot supply this adapter that they alone created a need for. I didn’t buy one when I bought the iPhone because I didn’t realize just how tight the fit was for the headphone jack; I thought that I might be able to fit at least some of my headphones in there (and one Sony pair does fit, but only barely, and after removing the strain relief on the cable, and the right ear tends to cut out because the plug isn’t really in there all the way), and because I plan to buy a pair of good iPhone-optimized headphones, with the microphone and everything, and didn’t want to buy an adapter I wouldn’t need. Apple, on the other hand, had to be in possession of the knowledge that nearly all headphones wouldn’t fit, and chose to just ignore this fact. Eh, Steve!


2 Comments so far. Comments are closed.
  1. Paul,

    The ship times on Apple’s website don’t always reflect reality. I ordered a keyboard rest protector for the 13″ MacBook which reports a 5-7 day time to ship and it shipped the same day. So it would appear you can’t count on those times to always be correct.

  2. Tushar,

    Yeah pretty nice blog you’ve got there.. I like the iPhone posts :)